I am currently on holiday in Oman. A bit like Aden but the people are much friendlier!
As a volunteer and unpaid SSAFA Divisional Secretary and Caseworker I feel that I need to respond the the recent comments about SSAFA. Firstly, I am also surprised about the payments made by SSAFA which Tony has mentioned in his letter. I have sent a copy of Tony’s letter to my Executive committee for an urgent response. I will publish in full when received.
Secondly, just to clear up any misconceptions about how SSAFA support the military community. We generally do not make benevolence payments to veterans and serving personnel as we are an almonising charity. Basically, that means that if you come to us for assistance, we will visit you and prepare a report which is sent the other military charities such as our own benevolent fund which’s administered by the PWRR, the RBL or many other charities, civilian or military. They provide the funding or other support which might be needed.
First and foremost, all of the military charities have to make sure that you are receiving the statutory benefits and other help you may be entitled to from the state. SSAFA caseworkers are trained to identify potential state benefits that you might be entitled to. Yes, there are occasions where we cannot get assistance for you; such as non priority debt, too much disposable income or your need could be satisfied from statutory sources. In this latter case, for example you might ask for a stair lift which in theory should be provided by the local authority but invariably there is a long waiting list. The military charities will take into account your need and probably provide assistance.
Returning to SSAFA as a charity, the monies raised on our behalf go to support the caseworking organisation (all unpaid volunteers) and the professional backup behind us. We have paid employees who are experts in social care, adoption, health care, publicity, fund raising etc. etc. We do have retired very senior officers from the three branches of the armed forces who head up the organisation. But this is no different to many other charities, like it or not you have to have people who move in the higher echelons of society and have the requisite skills in running large organisations to maximise the fund raising.
Not wishing to preempt the outcome of my request for info from SSAFA Executive, but It may well be that the payments identified by Tony relate to fund raising or similar activities. I will let you know as soon as I get an answer. If anyone wants to PM me regarding SSAFA help or you are not happy with the support you are getting, please feel free to do so.
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