SSAFA says its work has become ‘more complex and expensive’

SSAFA gathered its members and local dignitaries for their annual general meeting at the Needham Mar

SSAFA gathered its members and local dignitaries for their annual general meeting at the Needham Market Community Centre on Friday, 20 March. - Credit: Su Anderson

The Suffolk branch of the UK’s longest-running military charity has highlighted a pressing need for funding to cope with the growing cost and complexities of its operations.

Leading figures in the county’s branch of the Soldiers Sailors and Families Association (SSAFA) described the challenges facing their organisation during its recent AGM in Needham Market.

The branch, which was founded in 1885, the same year the charity was set-up, continues to provide support to serving and ex-service men and women and their families, whenever they need friendship, advice or assistance.

Last year it dealt with 350 cases in the county, and raised around £134,000 through various other military charities and grant providers.

But while the work continues, branch chairman Lieutenant Colonel Tony Chibnall RM said changes to the welfare system and a difficulties identifying the relevant public bodies from which to seek support, made the charity’s case work more complicated.

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“We are the oldest military charity in existence and we still look after the lovely men and women who have served their country underneath the colours,” he said.

“But cases are generally getting more complex and expensive.”

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The meeting, attended by charity members, supporters and local dignitaries, heard about some of the fundraising success stories of the year.

Suffolk County Council’s chairman Christopher Hudson supported SSAFA as his chosen charity for the year, and was thanked for raising a “significant sum” during a ball in November.

There was further praise for senior aircraftman Kevin Ogilvie, from Suffolk, who was paralysed is a Taliban explosion in Afghanistan, but went on to raise more than £17,000 by taking part in a variety of events with his wife Aimee.

Former soldier Alan Kemp, from Stanton, was also recognised for his efforts in a gruelling 14 day sponsored cycle ride from Gibraltar to High Wycombe, which raised more than £3,000 for the charity.

Lt Col Chibnall said there was always a need for further support.

“Anyone can help us, as case workers, fundraisers or helpers,” he said.

“There’s many ways of helping and age is no barrier.”

To find out more about the charity’s Suffolk branch email or call 01787 377850.

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