On the 181" March, as the COVID·19 pandemic was taking hold the Littlehampton AFVBC took the decision to suspend all club meetings to keep our members safe. However, mindful of the vulnerable nature of some of our members we looked at ways of utilising the resources we had accumulated since being founded In 2018 to support the most vulnerable members of the military family In our community during the pandemic.
This In mind a decision was made by the club admin team to approach Gary and Ruth Hughesdon from Cafe 72 who co-founded the Club with myself to see If together we could provide some sort of support for those most vulnerable due to the virus. As a result, we decided to use our club welfare funds to start a prepared meal delivery service, this was no easy task as at the time the panic buying was rife and accessing the necessary ingredients to cook the meaIs was a challenge In Its own right. On the 20th March we made the first deliveries to our vulnerable members, supplying them with five freshly cooked meals that they were able to freeze and reheat.
Funding this support was an issue that we knew would be a problem moving forward as we had identified twelve people with an immediate need, so whilst Gary and Ruth were busy preparing meals, we have built a group of volunteers from the club who give up their time in various ways, whether it be administration fundraising, delivering the meals, carry out essential Item shopping and as well as this numerous club members were baking cakes ready for the deliveries.
We realised very quickly that this was not going to be a short term problem and as such, we began looking for funding sources to ensure that we could provide continuity of support to the members we were assisting and also to the wider veteran community where a need was identified.
On the 30th March we applied for a grant from the Sussex Community Foundation ( https://sussexgiving.org.uk/ ), hoping to tap Into funding from the Sussecrisis fund. We applied for £5000 for what we called 'COVID-19 Meals project', which was the maximum allowed. On the 10th April we received the news that we were awarded the full amount requested from them. This funding guaranteed us the ability to provide support up until the end of May.
Not content with having to cease activities after May due to lack of funds, we looked at further funding opportunities. As members of ASOIC (Assoclatlon of ex-service drop-In centres https://www.asdic.org.uk/) We were Informed of funding made available from The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (AFCFT https://covenantfund.org.uk/) on their 'Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten' scheme. This required a plan for a six-month project up to a maximum cost of £20000 which had to begin as soon after the end of May as possible. As such an application was made for our new project named 'LIVeS project' (Littlehampton Isolated Veterans Support) and we looked to utilise the COVID-19 meals project as a basis for our bid as well as enhancing the support by look ing to provide access to digital communications with funded Tab lets for those Isolated physically and digitally.
On the 27th May we were delighted to be informed that our Bid had been successful and we had been awarded the maximum grant available from the AFCFT, this has ensured that not only has our support been able to continue but also we are now able to help with the isolation by getti ng the necessary technology to those most at need in our veteran military community locally.
What is clear rs that with the Initial Grant from The Sussex community Foundation for .£5000 that provided us with the abillty to fund our initial project it also gave us a springboard to not only provide continuity of support but also to enhance the support with the Funding from The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, we are extremely grateful to be given the ability by both these organisations to support the mllitary family locally.
Should anyone know of a veteran in the Arun area that needs assistance please contact us using the contact details on the image below.
As chair of the Llttlehampton AFVBC I personally would like to thank all the afore mentioned organisations as well as the group of volunteers from the local veteran community both from within our breakfast club and from outside the club who have
assisted us In providing support.
Chair (Littlehampton AFVBC)