One of 16 new Royal British Legion advice and information centres across the country opened its doors in Aylesbury this morning.
Military personnel, civic dignitaries and local beneficiaries gathered to celebrate the opening of the new pop in centre in the heart of the town.
The idea of the High Street branch is to bring the charity’s services closer to its beneficiaries.
It will be supported by a network of community outreach hubs as part of the Legion’s biggest transformation in its 93 year history.
In a complete change of how the charity delivers its frontline support services, each centre will offer a welcoming space for service personnel and veterans to get practical help and advice, and for members of the public to find out more about the wide range of services and community activities provided by the Legion.
The centres are located on the UK’s high street, where members of the armed forces and the general public can ‘pop in’, as easily as going to the shops, for advice and information on the charity’s support and community services.
Legion area manager for the south east midlands Mark Collins said: “The Royal British Legion was established to help those returning from the First World War.
“A century on from the start of that conflict the Legion’s role remains as contemporary and as vital as it has ever been supporting today’s generation of Armed Forces families and veterans.
“This new centre will allow us to provide help and advice to the armed forces community how and when they need it, helping them live on independently.
“We know the total number of the armed forces community is set to decline, yet the demand for Legion support is predicted to increase, as the population ages and our beneficiaries’ needs become more complex.
“Through our welfare work we can help the British armed forces, veterans and their families to live a more hopeful future.”
The driver behind the change in the Legion’s way of working came from research conducted in 2005 and 2010 into the demographic and long-term needs of the armed forces community.
Respondents said it was difficult to find the help they needed, either because of not knowing who to go to and what services were on offer, or because this information was hard to access.
There are now three main points through which the Armed Forces community can access the Legion’s help: a comprehensive website, with live web chat, offering information on Legion services and where to go for further support, a Freephone central contact centre open seven days a week from 8am-8pm, and our network of 16 advice and information centres, supported by outreach bases from where we run regular drop in sessions - all in easily accessible locations for face-to-face contact.