Okehampton’s Royal British Legion (RBL) branch is upping its welfare and community support with several new services in the pipeline to provide more help to the armed forces community

The RBL is hoping to re-establish itself in the community as a safe space for the armed forces community to come for help and is planning to provide new services such as meet and greets, a telephone buddy system and offer more help for those in need of urgent help.

RBL chairman Darren Kelly said: ‘We will be launching a branch support system which has been in place for many, many years, but it’s been gradually lost due to circumstances like covid.

‘There’ll be a release date for these but we’re going to start getting involved with home visits and hospital visits for beneficiaries and their families, offer bereavement support and also work as their touch points.

‘It’s an existing system that the branch do but on a local community basis. We’re now putting ourselves back out there ready for veterans and their families and the beneficiaries to come and have a point to come and speak.’

The RBL Okehampton branch will host its first meet and greet session on April 15 from 8:30-11:30am at the club which will take place on a regular basis to provide a contact point, social opportunities and a chance to ask for help. But the armed forces community will not only be provided with help during the club’s opening hours as a contact number will be posted outside for those in need of help when the club is closed.

Any veteran, serving member of the armed forces or their family in need of help should call 0808 802 8080 (open from 8am-8pm seven days a week) and the RBL Devon head office will contact the branch’s community support coordinator who will be able to provide help. However, the branch will be able to offer immediate support in exceptional circumstances when the main office is closed.

Joe Endacott, branch community support officer, explained: ‘It’s immediate needs. If it goes up to the central office it might take a day or two to come back down again. So the branch can offer immediate, short term help.’

To help raise money for the branch, Mr Kelly has also organised the RBL Okehampton Moorland Trek fundraising walk in memory of former RBL standard bearer Mark Murdoch who passed away at the end of last year.

The event, which will take place over three days in June (June 2, 3,4), will see Mr Kelly and anyone who wants to join him walk 38 miles across moorland near Okehampton.

The inspiration for the walk came after Mr Kelly attempted a 121-mile walk in November last year but found himself 38 miles short, which Mr Kelly decided he would complete in a separate event.

For more information contact Mr Kelly at [email protected] or Mr Endacott at [email protected]