The UK’s oldest military charity, SSAFA, has been recognised for its exceptional voluntary services in the Sussex region after being named as a recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2015 — ‘the MBE for volunteer groups’.
SSAFA, formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association, provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families.
The assistance offered by SSAFA’s Sussex Branch, which is split into eight local divisions covering East and West Sussex and Brighton and Hove, has been directly acknowledged by the Queen, with particular focus given to the breadth of services provided for currently serving men and women and veterans and their families in need.
SSAFA’s Sussex Branch is one of the oldest in Britain, launched shortly after the organisation’s formation in 1885, and assists hundreds of people a year with the widest range of need including, debt advice, housing adaption, mobility issues, and general welfare support.
The accolade is recognition of the Sussex Branch of SSAFA’s ability to meet the wide ranging needs of the Forces and their families both through services provided and direct financial support.
As recognition of the award, SSAFA’s Sussex Branch will be presented with a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal by the Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex at an investiture in the near future.
Alan Tait, who has been Chairman of the Sussex Branch of SSAFA for the past six years, and who served in the Army as a Gordon Highlander, said: “It is a great honour to receive this prestigious award which is testament to the great work done by all our volunteers in East and West Sussex and which very much reflects the tremendous work carried out throughout SSAFA across the country and overseas.
“The Sussex Branch was among the first in Britain to be formed at a local level and has been providing support to many thousands of service personnel, veterans and their families for the past 130 years.
“The main bulk of our recent work has been providing financial support to ensure that those who have served their country and might have fallen on hard times get to enjoy a life that they deserve. It is the very least we can do, but we are also, for example, working with local government civil military partnerships across Sussex to try to ensure that the many disadvantages they face in trying to access local facilities such as housing, healthcare and school places when they leave the armed forces are removed or mitigated.
“We are immensely proud of this recognition but we are also only too conscious that there will always be more work to be done and we remain committed to our pledge of providing lifelong support to those in need.”