‘Every poppy counts’ is the message this year as the annual appeal is launched - with a difference.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in a number of ways.
In May this year it was the 75th anniversary of VE Day, however, the country was still in lockdown so many events were either cancelled or took place virtually.
This week the Royal British Legion launches it poppy appeal, but with many of its World War II veterans unable to sell poppies due to being in the at risk category the charity is having to do things a bit differently.
The appeal starts on October 24 and runs until November 7, with remembrance Sunday taking place on November 8.
Lisa Evans, West Sussex community fundraiser for The Royal British Legion, said: “Like so many things this year, the appeal has had to adapt to the threat of Covid-19 and we are asking the public to support us like never before, because every poppy counts.
“Each year 40,000 volunteers make the poppy appeal happen. However, many of our collectors now fall into vulnerable categories, so it is simply not safe for them to do face to face collections.
“The same risk exists for many of our supporters who can’t leave their homes as the would normally to find a poppy.
“The reduction in collectors makes running the Poppy appeal much harder, but the Legion still has a job to do.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating impact on people’s livelihoods and way of life, leaving some in the Armed Forces community in dire need of urgent help and support.
“The Legion’s work is more vital than ever as we support people from all generations who have new hardships as a result of Covid-19 such as struggling with social isolation, financial difficulties and unemployment, losing loved ones or facing the threat of homelessness.”
Paper poppies and other poppy products will still be available this year.
More than 15 million paper poppies will be distributed in supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Asda stores as well as via some online retailers and the poppy shop.
Lisa said: “There are a variety of cashless donation options at each location with Morrisons and Sainsbury’s offering people the opportunity to add a donation to their shopping bill.”
Local collectors will have new ways for people to donate including unique QR codes and contactless machines to ensure the safety of those collecting and those choosing to donate in person.
Lisa added: “Dealing with the pandemic has brought home the sense of duty we all have to protect the most vulnerable in our society and our way of life. The same sense of duty has endured through generations of our Armed Forces community from the oldest of our WWII veterans to the newest recruits, and this year once again they have been there when we need them, standing alongside essential workers on the front line in the fight against Covid-19.”
Other ways in which people can support the appeal include virtual poppy runs.
From October 1 until November 30 people are being asked to set themselves a goal and walk, jog or run, whether it’s a distance on one day, or over days or weeks, get out there and do your bit knowing others are running with you.
It’s free to register via the Legion website and participants can also purchase a medal and T-shirt.
There is a printable poppy, which you can download to display in your window. Either download and print off a colour version or the version to colour in yourself. The Royal British Legion simply asks for a small donation.
A free fundraising pack is also available.
Emily Prestidge, from the British Legion, said: “Maybe you’re a keen knitter, brilliant baker or fancy getting creative with the family? Order your free fundraising pack and the Legion will keep in touch throughout poppy appeal on your progress.”
So how does the Legion support serving and ex-personnel and their families?
Emily said: “The Legion’s work is split into a number of areas. Physical and mental wellbeing – which includes the Battle Back Centre and recovery through the arts projects assisting wounded, injured and sick serving personnel and veterans
“Financial and employment support – including immediate needs grants for those most in need, benefits, debt and money advice to support those in financial difficulties and training and education funding to assist people into work
“Care and independent living - six care homes and support for more than 1300 families who care for a family member living with dementia
“And expert guidance – On individuals rights, pensions and entitlements.”
Sainsbury’s is marking 25 years of partnership with the poppy appeal with a number of fundraising activities and poppy-inspired products. It is offering a poppy recycling service at all stores.
Emily said: “Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the ways in which we can deliver the poppy appeal this year, our community of staff, volunteers, partners and suppliers have been working together to ensure that the 2020 poppy appeal is able to go ahead and the nation can take part in Remembrance activity.
“The safety of the public, our staff, members and volunteers is our top priority and we are working with charity regulators and the relevant local and national authorities to ensure that all activity is safe and in alignment with both national and regional regulations.”
While many remembrance services have been cancelled or moved online.
For the first time the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in London will be a closed ceremony.
The service is expected to go ahead with representatives of the Royal Family and personnel from the Royal Navy , British Army and Royal Air Force.
The nation will be able to watch the service live on BBC One and come together for a national moment of silence at 11am on November 8.
The Royal British Legion, said: “Despite the changes, we are encouraging people across the nations to ensure Remembrance Sunday is still marked appropriately by taking part in remote and socially distanced remembrance activity, whether that be watching the service on television or pausing for the two minute silence in their home or on their doorsteps.”
How you can donate:
Online: www.rbl.org.uk/poppyappeal and click on ‘donate’.
By phone by calling 0845 845 1945 to make a donation.
You can also donate via text:
To donate £3, text Poppy to 70020 - cost £3 plus standard network charges (typically £2.97 goes to the Royal British Legion).
And by post. Just print off a donation form via the website and return to Freepost Plus RTZT-ATBH-RGBZ, The Royal British Legion, Bumpers Way, Bumpers Farm, Chippenham, SN14 6NG.