Beyond poppies: six things you didn't know about The Royal British Legion

From supporting veterans and their families in debt and emergency situations to providing breaks for service families, Legion initiatives provide vital support.

Expert rehabilitation

Being a member of the armed forces can be high risk and many personnel leave with life-changing injuries. The Royal British Legion provides high quality recovery and rehabilitation support to ex-service personnel who find themselves wounded, injured, sick, or who are experiencing multiple challenges such as being out of work, dealing with mental health problems, financial issues and alcohol abuse.

The programme's flagship is the £27m Battle Back Centre at Lilleshall in the West Midlands, which provides sports and adventure activities designed to promote self-confidence and improve motivation to aid recovery. Tailored programmes help the wounded cope with both physical and psychological challenges.

Find a new job or start a business

For most, leaving the Armed Forces means starting a completely new career. The Legion offers a wide range of services designed to help ex-service men and women find employment including Civvy Street - a dedicated website which lists job vacancies and provides online training resources and information on changing careers. The Legion can also provide funding for additional training or education through its employment support grant scheme.

Anyone planning on starting a business will also be supported in their ambition. The Legion provides guidance on business plans, finances and tax requirements. Specialist assistance is also available to put together a business plan, source funding and even find mentors.

Help to live independently

Not everyone is a DIY whiz and not all former members of the services are equipped to tackle repair jobs. However, rather than booking a handyman, The Royal British Legion provides a handy van service across 21 counties to help with minor home adaptations and repairs for older or less able veterans and their families. The fully trained team assists with maintenance round the home­ covering everything from putting up shelves and grab rails to building access ramps and storage sheds to provide shelter for personal mobility vehicles.

They can also install the Legion's system of care phones. A type of personal alarm, a care phone is a telephone-based unit worn on a user's wrist or neck that can be used to summon help in an emergency.

A much needed break

It can be tough and stressful for families and children of those serving in the Armed Forces. Often some light relief can make a real difference, but taking a much-needed holiday can prove difficult for those on a tight budget. The Legion provides a range of welfare services including week-long adventure breaks for children. These breaks offer a great opportunity for youngsters to have fun, make new friends, have new experiences and improve their self-esteem while giving parents a well-earned break.

Parents are not left out either. Week-long breaks for service families are offered at four Legion centres in traditional British seaside resorts during the Easter, summer and October school holidays. Guests are free to take in the sea air while exploring the coast or visiting local tourist attractions. The breaks offer rest and recuperation for people recovering from life-changing events such as illness or bereavement.

A team of dementia nurses

In the UK today, one in six people over 80 has dementia and by 2025 more than a million people could have the condition. Inevitably, former members of the services feature in these figures. The Royal British Legion provides care in the shape of its purpose built dementia wings at four of its six residential care homes in Somerset, Warwickshire, Norfolk and north Yorkshire, as well as specialist, Admiral Nurses - developed in partnership with Dementia UK - who work in the community. Currently operating in Lancashire, the west Midlands, Hampshire and Somerset, Admiral Nurses offer specialist support, information and advice to the family carers of people living with dementia within the Armed Forces community.

Tackling money problems

Leaving the Armed Forces means having to deal with an array of financial issues that can be confusing if you're not prepared for them. Bring in The Royal British Legion's team of benefits and money advisers. This financial team provides support and guidance in the event ex-service people and their families suffer money problems or need guidance to help set up a new home or access benefits. It also provides help with debt and other unexpected crises, plus support through grants.

The Legion has set up MoneyForce, a dedicated website designed to improve understanding of financial issues with information on essentials like interest charges or buying a home. Managed in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and Standard Life Charitable Trust, the scheme has saved beneficiaries £70m through increases in benefits, tax credits, writing off debts and gaining grants since it began in 2007. It gives ex-service men and women the skills they need to manage their money, smoothing the transition to civilian life.

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The Royal British Legion has been supporting Service men and women, veterans and their families since 1921. And we're not going anywhere.

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