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CHAIRMANS MESSAGE


January 2017
 
When an organisation is as old as The Royal British Legion it is very hard to update the image, and convince the general public that it is moving with the times.  It is not so much that the focus of the Legion has changed that much since it was formed in 1921, but the beneficiaries for whom we work are now spread across several generations.

Never will we forget the sacrifice of those who fought in World War 2, and some of our work is still assisting those who served then and their families. Such things as care homes, dementia care and break centres ensure that aging beneficiaries and their carers are able to live in comfort and with dignity for the rest of their lives.

However, the later generations of service people, those whose service was in Korea, or Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Iraq, the Gulf War or The Falklands Conflict have different needs and those of us who work for them are keenly aware of this.

Royal  British Legion members, in the minds of many  people are still elderly gentlemen meeting in a dark pub, with berets, blazers and medals, talking about their war service and humming along to “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag”.

There may well be a few small outposts of conservatism within the Legion where this is all that still goes on. However, today’s Legion member or beneficiary may well be a born-again biker, a fit and healthy, hard working father of three young children,  or a rock and roll loving woman.  Coin Branch, for example, consists of many ex-service men and women who range in age from 50s to eighties, and also a lot of people who were never in the forces but meet, socialise and raise money for the Legion.   

Until the popular image of The Royal British Legion changes recruiting younger people to carry the torch for their ex-service friends is going to be difficult.  The Legion tries to ensure that it promotes itself as relevant to modern times.  Today this is increasingly so, and a visit to the Legion website will show how the Legion now attempts to embrace the 21st Century. (www.britishlegion.org.uk )

The beneficiaries of these later generations are younger and look to the Legion to assist with such concerns as job or career applications on leaving the forces, holiday breaks, debt advice or in the worst scenario, recovery centres for the awful injuries modern warfare causes.  Sadly too, the trauma of service means that homelessness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders are issues the Legion works to deal with. Today these centres and The Royal British Legion are increasingly geared towards the younger person who is firmly part of the 21st Century with current music, technology and lifestyle.

I urge people to consider who the 21st Century Legion beneficiary is. 

Jo Taylor Chairman