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Branch Community Support

Branch Community Support (BCS)

 

If you require help contact Alicante.bcs@rbl.community in confidence

 

The Alicante Branch of The Royal British Legion are here to help,

if we can, we will.

If you need the assistance of the Legion, or know someone who might, please contact your Branch Community Support (BCS) Member Mary Lou at Alicante.BCS@rbl.community
The Alicante Branch have Caseworkers, Hospital & Housebound visitors (currently on hold due to Covid 19) and Telephone Buddies supporting our Beneficiaries here in Spain.
Many people still don’t know that The Royal British Legion is here and is active and ready to offer help and support to any beneficiary who qualifies for help.
Each case is dealt with in full confidentiality on an individual needs’ basis by the relevantly trained people, and in most cases, we can offer some help or support, if we can’t help at Branch level then we have fantastic support from District who will either assist or signpost you to another source of support.
If we can’t help We will assess & consider requests for help for qualifying beneficiaries or family members, this does not always mean a financial payment, it could be guidance in where to get information or how to access social services.
We are often asked about things such as how do we get a Blue badge, home help, meals on wheels etc and we can guide people to where they need to go.
The Legion often have liaison between the beneficiary and their Regiment, Ship or Unit when help is delivered. This can be as simple as safety features in a bathroom, or a mobility scooter, a red button alarm in the home for peace of mind, a walking frame or other equipment, the list of things requested and supplied are endless.
If you think you may need help, then please contact Mary Lou or Jack Kemp using the details above. If you think someone you know may have served and needs some support encourage them to contact us as we cannot contact anyone directly without their permission, and we cannot discuss anyone’s Individual circumstances with a third party until we have their express permission to do so.
 

This is an article that will be published  in the February membership e-newsletter

 

How the Alicante Branch in Spain District North has helped Members and Beneficiaries during the pandemic and has recruited 102 new Members

Branches located all around the world have taken action to support Members and Beneficiaries who need help since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of these Branches is the Alicante Branch, in Spain District North led by Chairman Jack Kemp who was one of the recipients of the runners-up Community Response Award for Individual Impact in 2020, recognising his hard work in the course of this pandemic.

From the start of Covid-19, Jack, his wife Mary who is the Branch Community Support Representative as well as the rest of the Committee have sent letters to members and encouraged everyone to join as a telephone buddy volunteer. With an increased number of telephone buddies, they’ve made hundreds of phone calls to beneficiaries and members, ensuring they can help if needed.

Having members that are vulnerable and shielding, the Branch helped with delivering groceries and medication while following all the Covid-19 rules. When they identified that someone needed additional support, the BCS team including Jack would go above and beyond to assist as much as possible.

It was that level of commitment and continuous activity that enabled the Branch to recruit more members even within the current challenging environment.

‘Providing such support has paid huge dividends as during the pandemic we have recruited 102 new Members, and we are now the largest Branch within District North Spain. As the Chairman I’m convinced that this has been achieved by the hard work and dedication of my Branch Committee and Members.’ Jack said.

One example of how Jack and Mary both District Caseworkers helped a family when needed the most, is that of Ian and Vanessa whose story was first published in the Spain District North online magazine.

After Vanessa was diagnosed with a serious illness she had to stop working, which led to the couple struggling financially. Also, the accommodation they were renting at the time required repairs, but the landlord refused to make the improvements necessary, something that impacted Vanessa’s wellbeing.

Photo: Members and beneficiaries Ian and Vanessa

Photo Credit: Ian and Vanessa

As Ian explained ‘I was put in touch with the RBL, which made an immediate positive impact on our lives. I received a phone call from Pamela, the Community Support Coordinator for Spain District North, who arranged for a District Caseworker to visit.

I then received a phone call from Jack Kemp the very same day and he arranged to visit us in Torrevieja the same weekend. Jack and Mary who are both Caseworkers arrived and immediately made myself and my partner feel at ease, they showed us complete empathy.

Opening up to a stranger was not easy, that said nothing was rushed and Jack completed the documentation while Mary and Vanessa looked around the rented accommodation to see the issues that were undoubtedly affecting Vanessa’s health and causing us stress.’

Finding suitable accommodation for the couple was the priority for Jack so the team focused on that. With the help of the Legion, the couple managed to move to a temporary home in Spain before moving to Cardiff. As Ian mentioned, upon returning to the UK, they’ve received help from the South Wales Branch and Lauren Kennedy who helped with the purchase of white and brown goods for their new home, a bungalow that better suits their needs.

‘We cannot express in words our gratitude to all of the RBL team in Spain and indeed the UK for their fantastic work, which is carried out with such compassion and dignity to help veterans. We would urge everyone to support the Legion, your help and kind donations will allow this essential support to continue.’ Ian said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Jack has also helped a number of other members including Janet whose husband David, a veteran who served with the Royal Engineers sadly passed away at the end of March as lockdowns were introduced worldwide. Janet herself was hospitalised after suffering a heart attack and was in need of surgery.


Photo Right: Janet Brickhill with panic alarm that she received with Jack’s help

Photo Left: Veteran David Brickhill’s funeral with Janet, Alicante Branch Standard carried by Jack

Photo Credit: John Pratt Alicante Branch Secretary 

‘Janet was one of the members that I looked after as she is a High-Risk Member in terms of her health, so I had shopping, medications and post collected and delivered to her on a regular basis. She also got a panic alarm fitted with help from Pamela, Janet needed the panic alarm due to her ongoing health problems.’ Jack said.

With the restrictions already in place when David passed away, Jack  and John were the only two Branch Members that were permitted to attend the funeral service, Jack arranged for the service to be recorded by John which was then sent back to family members in the UK who couldn’t travel to Spain.

Prior to David’s passing, Janet had bought an adjustable hospital bed to make David’s final months more comfortable while at home.

‘This is an essential item for someone who is terminally ill so Janet asked if the bed could be used by others, which was a very kind gesture. Moving such an item took some planning and manpower, a task that I gladly accepted knowing the relief this item would bring not only to another terminally ill member of the community but also his or her partner and carer.  It was enormously pleasing to see first-hand the benefit such an item could bring to a family in need, but sad to say that the bed has been moved on five occasions during the Covid 19 pandemic. The bed has however generated considerable donations for TRBL Poppy Appeal.’ Jack explained.

Janet is now a Telephone Buddy for the Alicante Branch.

Jack alongside Pamela and the rest of the BCS team are also helping members that might not be beneficiaries and therefore not able to receive financial support from the Legion but the RBL can signpost them to other local organisations that can help. A recent case is that of two members Barry and Judith Thurston who needed help after Barry had his leg amputated and needed to install a stair lift in their home. Jack and Pamela helped Barry and Judith with their application to the British Benevolent Association, an organisation helping British citizens in Spain, and now hope that they can receive the support needed.

‘The support of TRBL has improved our quality of life, the comradeship from Branch Members during the last 10 months has been fantastic.  The assistance from Jack and Mary still continues today, a quick message and they are with us to sort any issues we have, both Mary and Jack have become very close friends.’ Judith said.

‘TRBL are the backbone of the community, nothing is too much trouble, the reason we joined TRBL was very simple, the support was and is first class.  On my darkest day, before my leg was amputated I was in severe pain and needed to get to the doctors, even with the support from Judith I could not get up our outside stairs to the car, Judith text Jack who was on route to Alicante and explained, he immediately came back and assisted Barry to get up the stairs and to the doctors.  I would encourage people to join TRBL’. Barry Said.

Photo: Judith and Barry Thurston with Jack Kemp

Photo Credit: Mary Kemp

 

   

Photo: Judith and Barry Thurston

Photo Credit: Jack Kemp

 End of Article 

 

Barry & Judith Thurston – Our Help from The Royal British Legion

We have both been members of the Alicante Branch of The Royal British Legion (TRBL) since September 2019, our only regret is not joining TRBL sooner, but we were under the impression that it was just for Serving and Ex Serving Members of HM Forces, how wrong we were.

The Branch meetings are split between El Campello and Castalla, and we have seen the Branch grow so much over the past 12 months, in fact 24 months ago the Membership was 26, now two years on the Branch have 107 Members.

The reason for this article is to make people aware of what TRBL can do for not only the Serving and Ex Serving Members but also members of the community with no military background what so ever.  I now know this term to be called signposting within the Legion, which is when TRBL is unable to assist financially due to not being classed as a Beneficiary, but can very much help by ensuring you are pointed in the right direction should the need arise and support emotionally. 

The help provided by the Legions Caseworkers, Branch Community Support Members, Hospital & Home Visitors and Telephone Buddies is 1st class, most people are unaware of the extensive help available from this group of volunteers that exist in most RBL Branches.

So, our story, I have been undergoing chemotherapy for 14 months and managing quite well with the never-ending assistance from Judith my devoted wife and some very close friends and members of the local community and Alicante Branch Members.  Unfortunately, during the Covid 19 lockdown, things took a turn for the worst, in April 2020 I was diagnosed with Thrombosis, unfortunately the blood clots could not be removed from the veins, so the only option at that time was a bypass, so off to Valencia hospital in May, but sort to say that failed, month later I was back in for the second full bypass, again in Valencia hospital, the staff at the hospital were fantastic and looked after both Judith and myself very well.  Unfortunately, both bypasses failed, so I had to have a mid-thigh amputation of my left leg.  As I have said the support from family in the UK and friends in Spain has been fantastic.  What I did not know was that when I was in hospital Jack Kemp our Chairman and Mary Kemp our Branch Community Support Members, both also District Caseworkers had been speaking to Pamela Twissell-Cross the Spain District North, Community Support Coordinator, between them we have been signposted to the British Benevolent Fund who with a referral from TRBL are now looking at helping financially towards a Lift to allow me access to and from the home.

So, who are The British Benevolent Fund is one of the oldest English-speaking charities in Spain with records dating back to at least 1933. It operates with the support of its Honorary President, HM Ambassador to Spain, and HM Consul General. It is run by an independent Chairman and Committee, all of whom know Spain and its people, and are very familiar with the issues British citizens living there face, be they tourists or long-term residents. They donate their time and knowledge for free with no remuneration whatsoever.

The next step so to speak, was to get quotes for the lift, again Jack called two companies and was at our home to ensure we received the best quote possible, again we can’t thank Pam, Mary and Jack enough and of course our family and friends both within the Legion and the local community.

If I could just say, we joined The Royal British Legion to help others, I’m please to say we have contributed throughout the year, helping with Poppy Collection at Alicante/Elche airport, Poppy Collection in Castalla and general fund raising for the Branch.  It’s not all about what TRBL can do for you but also what you can do for TRBL.  Please remember that even if not a Beneficiary, the Legion can still help with Signposting.  We are both so pleased we joined the Alicante Branch of The Royal British Legion.

Lastly, I would like to thank my dear wife Judith, she has been so strong, and together we are even stronger.

Once again, I would like to say thank you to The Royal British Legion, the BBF and the Doctors and Nurses at Valencia Hospital. 

 

Alicante Branch - Telephone Buddy - Janet Brickhill 
I was asked to become a Telephone Buddy by our BCS Member Mary Kemp, I was very please to be asked, I was given the documentation to read which explained the role of the Telephone Buddy, once I had read the information and decided that I would like to help. I was then informed I had to complete three online training courses, which at first I found daunting as school was a long time ago, but the online courses can be completed at your own pace and were basically common sense.
Once I had finished the courses I was then matched with someone who was basically in the same situation as myself. We have been chatting now for a few weeks and I would say we are more pals now than Telephone Buddies.
I would like to think it has helped Kim to talk about her experiences and to be open and honest, it has helped me too. It was and is a very good match.
I'm now looking forward to helping someone else soon and continue to call Kim.
Kim White (Testimonial)
My Telephone Buddy Janet Brickhill contacted me in May, about four months after my husband died. It was so refreshing being able to talk frankly to someone outside of the family who could relate to my grief without upsetting them. Since the first contact I would like to think that we have become friends.
 

Janet Brickhill (Testimonial)

Thanks to the RBL, Jack in particular, for persuading me to get a red cross alarm. I already feel safer and I can use it outside too, giving me more independence.
But, does this mean I am officially old.
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