Thanks to a major donation of £135,000 from Kent Freemasons, more than 350 vulnerable military veterans will be supported by Royal British Legion Industries’ (RBLI) pioneering welfare programme.
Through its STEP-IN programme, RBLI helps individuals with multiple, complex health needs and severe disabilities. It will provide each of the 360 veterans with a tailored plan based on their own needs to give them the tools to overcome challenges and move them towards independence.
The programme will include activities from gardening and horticulture to music and fitness. It includes a specially-designed relationship with nearby Aylesford School, where its pupils will be helped with reading and literacy while offering the veterans tips on using computers.
The grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales, will help veterans across Kent to maintain their independence and quality of life over the next three years.
Mark Estaugh of Kent Freemasons, said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the veterans in the RBLI village to get access to a wide range of activities, helping them keep their independence and improving their quality of life.
“These are people who have given a tremendous amount to our country and we’re proud to be able to give something back to them.”
Steve Sherry CMG OBE, Chief Executive of RBLI, said: “With 100 years’ experience, we have produced a pioneering model of care, which is both cost effective and replicable, and which can help veterans overcome multiple challenges at once.
“Our STEP-IN programme tackles the growing demand for integrated care, and encompasses health, social care, welfare and employment in one single place to help the country’s most vulnerable veterans turn their lives around more quickly. And this generous gift from the Masonic Charitable Foundation will help us to support more veterans.”
The grant will also help deliver community events for veterans of all ages and the local community, including a Christmas market and summer concerts.
RBLI, which was established in 1919 in to support British troops returning from the First World War, provides care, accommodation, training and employment services to veterans and people with disabilities.
The charity has a diverse range of service and facilities and offers the full care pathway – from fully independent accommodation to high dependency on its Kent village which houses more than 300 residents.