Dramatic rise in veterans in need of support in Northumberland

SSAFA is looking for more volunteers in Northumberland.
SSAFA is looking for more volunteers in Northumberland.

A military charity has seen requests for support rise by 46 per cent between 2013 and 2015 in Northumberland.

And SSAFA, whose network of volunteers support serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families, also saw the number of home visits in the county rise by 16 per cent last year.

This spring, in a bid to meet the increase in need, the Armed Forces charity is launching a search to find new recruits to join its ranks of dedicated volunteers.

SSAFA is the oldest national military charity in the UK, supporting 55,000 people in the Armed Forces community each year.

In Northumberland, it has divisions in Alnwick, Berwick & Norham-upon-Tweed, Blyth & Seaton Valley, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale District and Wansbeck.

The charity expects the increase in requests for help to continue to grow due to the ageing population of the UK and an increase in younger veterans from more recent conflicts, and their families, coming forward for help.

In 2005, 25 per cent of the beneficiaries SSAFA supported across the UK were under 60 years of age; 10 years later, this figure has risen to more than 40 per cent.

Sue Pillar, SSAFA director of volunteer operations and former Army Lieutenant Colonel, said: “In Northumberland, not only have we seen the needs of the local Armed Forces community increase significantly, but their welfare needs have become more complex.

“As a result, we desperately need more local volunteers to help our Armed Forces community.

“SSAFA predicts that the welfare needs of this community will continue to grow as World War Two veterans are now well into their 90s.

“At the same time, the impact of recent conflicts on our younger veterans and their families continues to reveal itself.

“If we take a moment to think about the courage shown and the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces while serving our country, it is shocking that we still see veterans of all ages, and their families, struggling.

“Men and women who have served with our Armed Forces have given so much through service and their families have supported them through their careers; it’s now up to us to support them when they need us.”

If you are interested in joining the Northumberland SSAFA volunteer team, contact SSAFA on 0845 658 1167 or visit www.ssafa.org.uk/newrecruits