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COVID-19 (Cornavirus Disease 2019)

Message from our Director General Charles Byrne
Dear All,
It can all feel like a roller coaster at the moment. There are real challenges for us all as we try look after our loved ones and do the best we can in our work. The global news is tough and it is impossible not to worry for the future. But this week I have been speaking to members and colleagues across the Legion, and whilst of course there are challenges, all I have heard is how we are facing them and fixing them step by step and delivering amazing support, drawing strength from our families and caring for those in our communities.

One of the people I spoke with this week was Jo-Anne Wilson, Manager at Galanos House. Our care homes are on the very front line at the moment, caring for the most vulnerable. Please watch this short video as Jo shows us how they are getting on:


Resilience is not just about how we just endure, but rather it comes from understanding how we recharge ourselves. Listening to and sharing these stories gives me great hope for the future. Whatever lies ahead this is how we build a strong community and country and we all have a part to play.

Thank you for your courage and commitment in this time. I hope you get the chance to recharge over the next few days.

Best wishes
Charles Byrne
Director General



 Dear Member,

I understand that this can be a worrying time and wanted to reiterate what the Legion has been doing to plan and prepare as the situation with the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop.

The health of our members, volunteers, people we support and Legion employees is our priority. The Government has been very clear in their advice on self-isolating and social distancing, and we are strongly encouraging all our members to follow the advice given.

Events and meetings

We strongly recommend that all meetings are cancelled or postponed, including branch and county meetings, and that members follow the government's advice, particularly guidance on social distancing for the over 70’s and vulnerable people.

I am sorry to say that we have had to make the decision to cancel this year’s Annual Conference in its current form. We will be exploring other options and next steps and will keep you informed of our plans around this. All of the Legion's fundraising events until the end of June have been postponed and we will make efforts to reschedule these at a future date where possible. All three Membership meet-ups for this year have been cancelled.

With regards to the VE Day commemorations, the Legion has taken the difficult decision not to continue with plans to facilitate attendance for members of the Second World War generation at events in London for VE75. The Legion is working with the Government to develop alternative commemorations for VE Day.

The Legion has also taken the difficult decision not to continue with planned events in Bayeux to commemorate the 76th anniversary of D-Day. We are continuing to identify ways that we can still commemorate the anniversary of D-Day on Saturday 6th June.

Due to the exceptional nature of the crisis the Church of England has announced that public worship is suspended until further notice. Accordingly we are asking that Standard Bearers do not attend any funerals they may have been asked to attend, and do not undertake any further public duties until advised.

Branch Community Support and volunteering

We also need to ensure that while we maintain our service, we are protecting both the people we support and our Branch Community Support volunteers. To that end, from now until advised otherwise, please avoid making any home visits to beneficiaries and instead explore other options.

There are many ways by which we can continue to provide much needed support to those who may be feeling more isolated than ever at this time. Our telephone buddy service is a vital route through which we can check that individuals in our community feel supported; are safe and well; and continue to have a connection. We would also like to ask that our Branches make regular telephone contact with those individuals who you know are, or may be, particularly vulnerable at this time. We need to make sure that everyone has sufficient food and access to their medication, as well as the reassurance that their needs are being considered.

The Royal British Legion has an important role to play in ensuring that if the most vulnerable in our society need to be more socially isolated, they will not be forgotten and a friendly voice is at hand. Through our extensive local networks we are well placed to support the national effort and we are working on plans with partners and other organisations to stand together in face of these difficult and unsettling circumstances.

If you become very concerned about an individual, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0808 802 8080 and the Area Welfare Team can provide appropriate support. The Legion’s 15 Pop In Centres on high streets around the UK have now closed until it is safe to reopen them.

Thank you in advance for your patience and continued support for the Legion during this time. Please stay safe, follow the Government’s advice, and through both what we do and how we do it, we will continue to play a vital role in supporting our community and nations.

With very best wishes,

Una Cleminson
National Chairman

 ‘With coronavirus, there are no guarantees as to what will happen, but people will pull together and they will strengthen each other.’ WWII Veteran Mervyn Kersch said. As the government is advising social distancing and self-isolation, veterans and older people are facing the prospect of having to stay at home for weeks. Here is what some WWII Veterans had to say about how their lives have been affected.

New VE Day educational resources for children aged 7-14 are now available for Legion members and volunteers, teachers, and families to use. School resources are available now via the Legion website, with the home education versions available at the end of March. Please share this with your community.

While serving in Afghanistan in 2006, Andy Barlow ran into a minefield to help an injured fellow soldier but he got injured and his leg was amputated. After leaving hospital, Andy spent time at Headley Court and he now credits his time there, and being around other injured soldiers, as a catalyst for his rehabilitation.

This Women’s History Month we are celebrating everything the women of the Armed Forces community have achieved. In the video above Lisa Evans, an Army veteran who saw tours of Iraq and Afghanistan talks about how she moved hundreds of people around including repatriating soldiers who sadly lost their lives. Visit our Women at War timeline to discover how women’s role in the Armed Forces has changed since WWI.

Sergeant Hayley Ridgeway joined the Army in 2005 when she was just 15. After completing her basic training, she became a medic, and saw tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was while on a tour of Afghanistan in 2011 that Hayley’s selfless actions saved the lives of many after her unit were hit by an IED. Hayley is still serving in a non-deployable teaching role training new Army medics, and is also the mother of a three-year-old daughter.


Now is the time to share your secret recipe for carrot cake, or perhaps your famous Victoria sponge! The Legion will encourage its corporate partners to raise money by hosting a bake sale fundraiser later this year and we are looking for recipes to inspire those who will take part. Put forward your recipes by sending them over to corporatepartnerships@britishlegion.org.uk along with a photo of the finished cake for a chance to be included!

At the time this e-newsletter was sent, the event below was still scheduled to go ahead as planned.

Enjoy a great day of racing with additional entertainment including a Standard Bearers’ Parade. Special discounts are available for members with Premier Enclosure tickets costing £21 and Grandstand and Paddock £14.25. Call 0344 579 3010 (for 1-9 tickets) and quote RBL2020 or 01638 675 500 (for groups of 10 or more) – press option 4 and quote RBL2020.

The Great 'All British' film 'Remembrance'. Already considerable prominence has been given in the Press to the great film 'Remembrance', which is British throughout and is produced under the auspices of the British Legion. A story of love and adventure interwoven with humour inseparable from the British Tommy is perhaps a good way of describing the film. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, as one might expect from his untiring efforts on behalf of exServicemen, has shown much interest in 'Remembrance' and is by his personal consent included in a portion of the film which depicts a Dug Out Night at a British Legion Rally.

Many community groups have been launched to support elderly/vulnerable people during this difficult time, have you joined one?

1. Yes
2. Yes I am doing this through my Branch
3. No
4. No but I am looking for other ways to help
5. No because I am currently self-isolating
6. Other

Test your knowledge of VE and VJ Day

739 Participants

0-10% correct answers - 14 respondents
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21-30% correct answers - 120 respondents
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41-50% correct answers - 200 respondents
51-60% correct answers - 187 respondents
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71-80% correct answers - 76 respondents
81-90% correct answers - 48 respondents
91-100% correct answers - 40 respondents

If you have any questions about the e-newsletter, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you have questions about your membership card or want to change your home or email address please contact our Membership Services team MembershipServices@britishlegion.org.uk

Best wishes,

Dimitra Nikolakopoulou
Membership Communications Officer


Message from the National Chairman

Dear Member,

I wanted to write to you and explain what we as the Board of Trustees and Executive Board are doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an unprecedented situation and puts us all in uncharted territory. I understand that this can be a worrying time and wanted to reiterate what the Legion has been doing to plan and prepare as the situation continues to develop.

The health of our beneficiaries, volunteers, members and employees is our priority. We will continue to take our lead from the Government advice, responding to the expert guidance as that is issued, with planning and decisions that we think are right for the Legion.

Government advice is clear on wanting people to work from home where possible. Our offices are remaining open for the time being, however, across the Legion more employees are working from home and teams are swiftly undertaking planning and arranging work to keep the Legion going. We will review all of our events and make decisions on those over the next couple of days.

The strength of the Legion is in our branches and counties and this is more important now than ever. As a member, I know you fully understand and appreciate this and will want to continue in your Legion work, but we do ask you to follow government’s advice. We strongly recommend that all non-essential meetings are cancelled or postponed, including branch and county meetings, and that members follow the government advice, particularly guidance on social distancing for the over 70’s and vulnerable people, which includes avoiding large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs and clubs. If you have any cold and flu symptoms at all, the right thing to do is to stay at home and not to travel.

Importantly, as the Royal British Legion, we are committed to playing our part to support our Armed Forces Community and our nations. We have set up a separate working group to look at how members, volunteers and staff can help in their communities and we will be issuing advice shortly. That said, if you find yourself in need of support and are eligible for Legion help, please call the contact centre on 0808 802 8080.

No one will have all the answers in this situation but more than ever addressing these challenges together will make a difference. This remains a rapidly changing situation and when we make any changes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will of course let you know. Please do your best to share this information with all of your members, to help keep everyone up to date.

Thank you in advance for your patience and continued support for the Legion and our beneficiaries during this time.

With very best wishes

Una Cleminson

Chairman, Board of Trustees

The download link is the Membership Notice Header
This information is intended to help you, as a member of The Royal British Legion to decide what steps you should take considering the spread of the covid-19 virus. 

What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. This strain, covid19, is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.

What are the symptoms?
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has covid-19 infection:

• A cough
• A high temperature
• Shortness of breath 

If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 coronavirus advice website*.  Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment. 
The latest advice and developments on the covid-19 situation can be found on the GOV.UK  website.

What’s the best way to prevent the spread of covid-19?

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser; this is particularly important after taking public transport.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
• Always carry tissues with you to cover your cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in a bin. 
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment. 
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
• Avoid close contact with people who are unwell. 
• If you or someone in your household suffers from diabetes or an ongoing respiratory illness (such as asthma) and the situation does escalate, you may want to consider not using the crowded public transport to travel, as this seems to be the most likely route to infection.   
• If you have the option of using IT or telephone systems for meetings, then please use them. 

What can you do to protect other members, volunteers, and those that we support?

• If you are feeling unwell or are worried that you may be at risk, please don’t come into Legion locations or carry out any visits. Let other members or staff know that you won’t be attending.
• Take note of and share with other members and volunteers the information provided via our communication channels. 
• GOV.UK has published clear and printable instructions on handwashing techniques – display them in offices, meeting rooms, clubs and other Legion venues.
• Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours - frequently clean key areas including keyboards and door handles. 
• Download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster from the NHS website* for use in your home and or member/volunteer location.

How can I support our beneficiaries/clients?
Generally, infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Some of our members, volunteers and people we support may be more at risk or highly concerned about the virus. Remember:

• If carrying out visits to those we support in their home, check that they are well and if they have recently travelled to risk areas.
• Ask members if they would prefer to carry out their roles from home (if they have the infrastructure and the role facilitates this).

What if I or someone I know has travelled recently or is about to 

• Keep up to date on current travel advice. The Foreign Office has published information and advice on travel safety and the World Health Organisation is providing updated covid-19 travel advice. 
• The government has listed high risk areas/countries by category 1 (highest risk areas) and category 2 areas.   
• Members and volunteers who are symptomless but have returned from category 1 areas within the last 14 days should self-isolate for 14 days from their return.   
• Members and volunteers who have returned from a category 2 area within the last 14 days and who develop symptoms should self-isolate. 
• Let your contact at the Legion know if you are travelling or returning from travel, particularly if it is from a risk area.

What about the Annual Conference and other large Legion events/meetings

At this stage we haven’t made any decisions regarding cancellations of large gatherings such as the Annual Conference or Membership Meet-Ups, but we will keep you informed of any changes to the current plans. 


Key up-to-date information from the government:
GOV.UK: COVID-19 latest information and advice
NHS coronavirus advice

Travel advice
GOV.UK: COVID-19 travel advice
GOV.UK: COVID-19 specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK

Handwashing techniques
Catch it, Bin, it, Kill it’ poster