It was an honour to meet with Royal British Legion veterans at an event in Parliament this week. The Royal British Legion is the biggest armed forces charity in the UK, you probably recognise them from the Poppy Appeal that they help run every year to raise funds and to honour those who have died in the armed services.
I had a really interesting conversation with Legion’s Wales Area Manager, Antony Metcalfe, military veteran Chris Headon about the issues facing veterans and the vital work that Legion does in providing care and after care to serving soldiers and veterans. I look forward to meeting them in the future and continuing to work together.
It was the last Labour Government that coined the idea of the Military Covenant, the duty of care that the nation owes to those who put their lives on the line to serve their country. But we need to be doing more to meet that duty. At the last election we said that a Labour Government would;
- Set targets to increase the number of veterans in apprenticeships
- Create Homes fit for Hero’s providing free insulation to the homes of veterans
- Encourage more companies to get involved in supporting veterans
I hope that the Government is open to carrying these ideas forward, but given the chaos engulfing the Tories at the moment I’m not hopeful – but I will carry on pushing for these changes.
We need to make sure we properly look after veterans as part of our society too, better access to disabled benefits by creating personalised care plans and ending endless demeaning private assessments and also boosting the amount of money available to the Welsh Government to fund the Welsh NHS.
Late last year, I visited the Cardiff City Foundation to see the amazing work that they are undertaking with veterans in the community.
They’ve teamed up with the Royal British Legion to create a Veteran’s Project, designed to use the power of Cardiff City FC to engage with socially isolated retired and ex-armed forces personnel or those at risk of becoming lonely in and around Cardiff.
The project backs into the Welsh Government’s national strategy to develop a coherent, holistic and long-term response to loneliness and social isolation in Wales.
Working closely with the Sporting Memories Foundation, Cardiff City FC Community Foundation are also developing sporting and military reminiscence materials that will be used to support those suffering from dementia, as well as working to up-skill and train members of the group and wider community to deliver reminiscence activities.