Littlehampton veterans support scheme awarded £20,000

A £20,000 grant for Littlehampton Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club means support put in place during the coronavirus outbreak can continue for at least six months.

The donation from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust’s Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten scheme has helped the club set up Littlehampton Isolated Veterans Support Project, known as LIVeS.

The move expands on the work that has been going on since March, supporting isolated veterans and providing them with cooked meals.

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Ian Neville, chairman, said the club had been using its own funds and a £5,000 grant from the Sussex Community Foundation’s Sussex Crisis Fund to run its Covid-19 Meals Project since March, and this community support had helped boost the second grant application.

Littlehampton Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club launches its new LIVeS project, helping isolated veterans. Picture: Steve Robards SR2006232

He explained: “What is clear is that with the grant from the Sussex Community Foundation that provided us with the ability to fund our initial project, it also gave us a springboard to not only provide continuity of support but also to enhance the support with the funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

“We are extremely grateful to be given the ability by both these organisations to support the military family locally. Should anyone know of a veteran in the Arun area that needs assistance, please contact us.”

The LIVes project launched on June 1, with funding for six months. As well as continuing the meals, the project will be able to offer tablets to veterans who have limited access to digital devices, to help them keep in touch and prevent isolation.

The breakfast club has built up a network of veterans since it was launched in February 2018 at Café 72 in High Street but had to suspend its meetings in March due to the pandemic.

Ian said: “We have remained virtual and not only that, we have been providing support to isolated members of the military community veterans and families ever since.

“We took the decision to suspend all club meetings to keep our members safe. However, mindful of the vulnerable nature of some of our members, we looked at ways of utilising the resources we had accumulated to support the most vulnerable members of the military family in our community during the pandemic.”

The club’s administration team approached Gary and Ruth Hughesdon from Café 72 to discuss ways of helping the veterans.

Ian said: “As a result, we decided to use our club welfare funds to start a prepared meal delivery service. This was no easy task as at the time, the panic buying was rife and accessing the necessary ingredients to cook the meals was a challenge in its own right.

“On March 20, we made the first deliveries to our vulnerable members, supplying them with five freshly-cooked meals that they were able to freeze and reheat.

“Funding this support was an issue that we knew would be a problem moving forward, as we had identified 12 people with immediate need. So, while Gary and Ruth were busy preparing meals, we built a group of volunteers from the club, who give up their time in various ways.

“We realised very quickly that this was not going to be a short-term problem and we began looking for funding sources to ensure we could provide continuity of support to the members we were assisting and also to the wider veteran community, where a need was identified.”

The Sussex Crisis Fund grant was approved on April 10, guaranteeing support until the end of May.

The LIVeS grant application was then made, to ensure the activities could continue.

Ian said: “As chairman of the Littlehampton AFVBC, I personally would like to thank all the aforementioned organisations, as well as the group of volunteers from the local veteran community, both from within our breakfast club and from outside the club, who have assisted us in providing support.”

Telephone Ian Neville on 07728 760246 or email [email protected] for more information or visit littlehamptonafvbc.wixsite.com/lafvbc

Cafe 72 is offering a free brew for any member of the military family on Armed Forces Day. Simply visit the cafe, in High Street, Littlehampton, wearing a Veterans Badge or LAFVBC Club badge, or show your MOD 90 for a takeway cuppa.

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