News : A New Helpline Set Up by the Royal British Legion
Dec 26, 2013 -- A new helpline set up by The Royal British Legion to offer support and advice to the Armed Forces community is being run from Nantgarw using the experience of Welsh veterans.
The new Freephone helpline covers the whole of the UK and is just one of the new changes to the way the charity will be operating in Wales.
A team of 16 call handlers, around half of whom are veterans themselves, man the Freephone number from Connect Assist in Nantgarw on behalf of the Royal British Legion (RBL).
Phil Jones, the legion’s area manager for Wales, said: "This has been an important step in the legion’s history. The helpline signifies an important step in the way the legion is going about its welfare business which is the most important reason we exist to help and advise the Armed Forces community in the UK and internationally."
The helpline is manned by trained advisers including some Welsh speakers and is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.
Mr Jones said the new model being followed by the RBL will offer a more consistent approach across the whole of the UK and will allow the charity to be more effective in the use of its resources.
The helpline went live in May and now receives an average of between 500 and 800 calls a day.
Rusty Livock, Connect Assist’s deputy chief executive, said some of the most common issues which the helpline currently has calls about are homelessness, household goods, clothing for children, food and pensions.
In Wales, centres will open in Cardiff, which will act as the national Wales office, and also in Wrexham, Carmarthen and Swansea but on a smaller scale.
Mr Jones said members of the public will be able to meet staff and volunteers. He said these ‘hubs’ will act as the focal point for the network of outreach activities and one to one meetings across the whole of Wales.
Mr Jones said there will be four professional case officers in Wales who are employed in the four hubs and who will work with case worker volunteers who they are going to be recruiting more of in Wales. He said the case workers will meet with the person and complete a full needs assessment to really understand what the issues are.
There are currently around 70 case worker volunteers in Wales.
The charity is also setting up partnerships with local authorities, housing associations and other organisations in Wales to help with referrals and to pass on training to the staff of those organisations. The Legion will also be able to use their facilities to set up advice surgeries in local communities.
Mr Jones said these partnerships are being set up with local authorities as part of their commitment to the community covenants.
He said: "One of the issues I find when I speak to authorities in Wales is that we’d all like to be more precise in knowing how many Armed Forces veterans and dependants there are in Wales, where they live and what issues they are facing and what their aspirations are.
"We’d like to know much more about how many need help and where they’re living. We’ll only know by launching this. We are beginning to scratch the surface. By doing that it means the Legion can better allocate resources and our partners can all orientate their services to better meet the needs of the armed forces."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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The Royal British Legion provides help and welfare to the serving and ex-Service community and their families.
Published: Friday, December 27, 2013