Help for Heroes
Help for Heroes (H4H) was launched in October 2007, by Bryn and Emma Parry, out of a desire to help the wounded members of the Armed Forces coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Our young men and women of the Armed Forces will say that they are not heroes, they will tell you that they are just “blokes doing their job”. H4H believes that anyone who volunteers to serve in time of war, knowing that they may risk all, is a hero. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and some of them are living with the consequences of their service for life.
H4H may not be able to prevent our people from being wounded, but together we can help them get better. Help for Heroes was borne out of an immense respect and awe for the courage, humour and professionalism of the men and women of the Armed Forces who put their lives in danger, on a regular basis, on our behalf. What was started by a small group of friends with a desire to help, quickly ignited support across the entire country. Within weeks, celebrities, politicians, sportsmen and women, and people in all walks of life were wearing wristbands to demonstrate their support for the injured, embarking on fundraising events and making donations.
Help for Heroes is very simple; they are strictly non political, they accept that wars happen under any government and are not critical; they simply want to help.
Help for Heroes called for the people of the United Kingdom to show their support and affection for ‘our blokes’ and to do so by ‘doing their bit’. Their call has been heard throughout Britain and an army of volunteers is fund raising to support our wounded. People all over the country have done something: run marathons; climbed mountains; ridden bikes; shaved their legs; eaten pies; washed cars; run balls; swum the channel; rowed the Atlantic; run across a desert; shot a clay pigeon; jumped out of a serviceable aircraft; sold a thousand cakes; any number of things as long as they are legal, safe and decent.
To date H4H has raised £20 million. They have had huge donations from £1.5m from a businessman to a cheque for £0.2p. They have had the country’s top rugby players raise £1.4m at Twickenham and they have had Hugo give them the contents of his money box … all donations are of equal value to H4H and all show that the donors really care.
The majority of the money raised has been designated to build much needed rehabilitation facilities as long-term injuries need long-term solutions. Going forward, Help for Heroes aims to supplement the available facilities and care so that those in rehabilitation get the very best facilities and treatment in order to recover from their injuries and rebuild their careers.
H4H understands that the reason people give money is to make a real difference to the lives of our wounded men and women. Most of the donations have come from ordinary decent people who might never have responded to a service charity before, much of it raised by those people actually doing something. For example, a staggering £1.35 million was raised by the 300 or so saddle-sore riders on their Halfords Help for Heroes Bike Ride and over £1 million has come from the readers of The Sunday Times and The Sun. £1.4 million was raised at Twickenham in a single wonderful day and £1.5 million was raised at a ball, but most donations are small – but there are lots of them!
If you have been involved in one of the amazingly imaginative events to raise some money, you will want to know that your efforts are appreciated. You don’t want to think that your hard-earned cash is sitting in a dusty bank vault waiting for a rainy day; that is clearly not your style and nor is it theirs. H4H are passionate about helping our wounded servicemen and women and the sooner results can be seen, the better.
The first £8m has been allocated to the task of helping to provide the new swimming pool and gym complex at DMRC Headley Court. The designs have been submitted to planners and all being well, work should begin in November this year and the complex will be complete in the late autumn of 2009 – we can’t wait!
The team at Headley Court know how important it is for their patients to get back to doing sporting activities that challenge and get the adrenalin flowing. A new Adaptive Adventure Training Team called Battle Back has been set up to ensure that the wounded get a chance to ‘feel the wind in the face and the sun on the back’. The skiing trip was a great success earlier this year and now plans are afoot to provide a great many more trips to help with rehabilitation and confidence, and moral, building. H4H are working closely with Battle Back and will be providing funds as and when they are needed.
H4H have also been able to give Combat Stress, the charity that helps veterans with mental wounds, a grant of £3.5 million. The money, the biggest grant in the history of Combat Stress, will be used to pay for the much-needed expansion, modernisation and reorganisation of their specialist treatment centre, Tyrwhitt House in Surrey, in order to accommodate more Veterans including carers and to provide up-rated clinical and welfare working space. This was something H4H were able to do now and ensure that the centre can get on with their plans immediately and start caring for more of our mentally wounded rather than have to wait. With the increase of tours and the level of mental stress experienced, it is vital that we have the facilities to give our boys and girls the best treatment, for their mental wounds as well as their physical.
H4H have also been able to donate £500k to complete the SSAFA Forces Help ‘Homes from Home’ appeal to provide relatives’ houses at Headley Court and Selly Oak. The houses are fully equipped to be a haven for the relatives of the wounded when they visit their loved ones in hospital and, as the Controller of SSAFA outlines below, are a place where the patient’s relatives can recharge their batteries and allow them to go back refreshed. It is a great idea by a great charity and we are delighted to be able to help SSAFA Forces Help to complete their appeal.
They are also working with an inspirational group of volunteers called Troop Aid who supply goodies to the hospital at Selly Oak to make the wounded patient’s life a little better. With H4H’s funding, they are able to ensure their service is now even better. Every patient who is injured while on active service and goes through Selly Oak will now receive a Troop Aid Hero Grab Bag. This is a very simple idea but it makes a real difference to the morale and comfort of the patient. The bag contains all the ‘nice to haves’ like a t-shirt, underwear, socks, washing and shaving kit, or female equivalent, as well as other items like writing paper, a telephone card and memory stick. It also has a letter from a school child wishing the patient a swift recovery ... simple, but rather wonderful.
Help for Heroes’ latest venture will be helping to fund the Pathfinder project for an Army Recovery Centre in Edinburgh. H4H, working with the Army and Service Charity Erskine, will be creating a house for 12 Solders to live while they begin to launch back into their lives after sustaining injuries. The intention is that once the concept has been proven successful, there will be up to 7 other such houses established, with H4H’s funding, around the country. H4H are really pleased to be able to play our part in this Army initiative and very much look forward to a rapid expansion of the concept to all super garrisons around the UK.
If you would like to make a donation to Help for Heroes, buy something from the shop to
support their work or find out more please contact them on:
t: 0845 673 1760 or 01980 846 459
Help for Heroes shop:
t: 01725 513 212
Charity number 1120920