Reckless attack is kick in the teeth for hard working support staff, volunteers and wounded veterans

Help for Heroes is appalled by the attack in today's Mail on Sunday. We have referred this to our lawyers and this article is now subject to a legal complaint.

By recklessly attacking an organisation which supports and represents the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, the Mail on Sunday is effectively putting at risk those who have been injured in the service of our Country by jeopardising the vital support they may receive in the future.

The Mail on Sunday only informed us yesterday that they were planning to write an article about the charity and gave us only a few hours to respond. No evidence to substantiate the claims was provided and the Mail refused to give us a proper opportunity to reply.

We replied in as much detail as possible and told the paper that the claims were false and without foundation. The Mail on Sunday had clearly selected its headline and let sensationalism get in the way of fact.

The reality is the following:

  • Help for Heroes has sound safeguarding procedures and is registered and fully compliant with the Information Commissioner's Office .
  • As with other leading organisations, including the NHS, Help for Heroes follows Caldicott Data-Sharing Principles to protect our beneficiaries and staff from harm. These specify that a charity has not only permission but a duty of care to share information internally if someone is felt to be a risk to themselves or others.
  • Should an employee fail to meet required professional standards then action has to be taken. In these instances we adhere to legal advice.
  • The Charity Commission is obliged to look into any allegation about a charity, regardless of the source. Help for Heroes is not subject to a statutory inquiry. To date, we have answered all their questions to their declared satisfaction and will continue to work closely with them.

H4H was launched in 2007 in response to a simple desire to support our wounded, injured and sick service personnel and their families. With the incredible support of the British public, H4H has been able to do precisely that since its launch, often in the face of inertia or even outright hostility from less informed quarters.

Far from losing our way, we have helped move care for British Service Personnel forward, working closely with over 60 specialist charity partners and as an active member of the Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO).

We now have the world-leading Defence Recovery Capability, a unique partnership between the Ministry of Defence, The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes. No other nation cares for its Service Personnel and Veterans in such a co-ordinated manner, linking the Services, the leading charities, the public and corporate support. Other countries, including the United States, now work with us to shape best practice of the future.

Tim Collins and Kevan Jones appear to be worryingly ill-informed of the facts and we will invite them to visit our Recovery Centres to help address this:

  • H4H has granted over £30m to specialist charity partners whose services collectively help support “The Blokes – the men and women of the Armed Forces”. These include Combat Stress (£6.5m) and Blind Veterans UK (£1m) and SSAFA (£500k) as well as partnering with BLESMA and RBL in support of our beneficiaries
  • H4H aims to support wounded, injured and sick Servicemen, women, veterans and their loved ones from ALL conflicts: the oldest and youngest recipients of direct H4H Grants have been 96 and 18 years old respectively
  • Within the last 12 months The Daily Mail itself has supported our fundraising for the 96-year-old World War Two veteran

The Mail on Sunday has hurt not only our beneficiaries but also every member of our team. This is unacceptable and we are taking legal advice about redress.

We and our beneficiaries are all rightly proud of what Help for Heroes does and we are honoured to work alongside some extraordinary volunteers and staff - people who always go the extra mile to help ‘the Blokes’. One need only read any of the many letters we regularly receive to see the impact of the work of our teams.

It really is as simple as that.

Thank you to all our staff, volunteers, fundraisers and many partners.

We are rebuilding lives and that is vital work; we are privileged to be a part of it and it is an honour to work alongside you all.

Keep believing in what we do and keep smiling!

Onwards and Upwards

Bryn Parry Signature

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Supporter Chris presents his positive poster

Chris And Steve

Help for Heroes supporter Chris Young visited the Colchester Recovery Centre, Chavasse VC House, on Thursday 4 February to hand over his H4H poster to Steve Schollar, Head of Recovery (East).

Chris, who has Cerebral Palsy, had always wanted to join the Armed Forces but unfortunately because of his condition was not able to. So instead, Chris decided the only way he could show his support for our Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen was through fundraising for Help for Heroes.

Always keen to keep busy, Chris has taken part in collection days at Tescos and buys merchandise from the online shop to show his support publically. However, Chris wanted to express his gratitude in a more creative way. Once a week, he attended an art therapy group in his home town of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire and created an inspirational poster. Scattered between the Hero Bears are Chris’ own thoughts and messages to our wounded such as: “ You inspire me with your bravery” and “Please keep going with your recovery. There is lots of opportunities for you” [sic].

After the presentation, Chris, his mum Stevie and carer Nicki were given a tour of the centre to see for themselves how Help for Heroes is helping to rebuild lives.

The poster will have pride of place in the Reception so all recovering personnel and veterans can see his hard work.

We could not do what we do without supporters like Chris! 

If you would like to do your bit, there a lots of ways you can! Click here for more fundraising ideas.

Veteran hopes to take fellow wounded, injured and sick heroes to the skies

A Liverpool Veteran who was paralysed from the waist down after a motorbike accident has found a new lease of life by taking to the skies – and hopes to instil fellow Veterans with the same passion for flying.

Alex Krol, 33, of Formby, has credited the charity Help for Heroes with supporting him in his recovery after his accident in 2005, which led to the end of his military career with the Royal Marines. The Charity has provided him with more than £18,000 in grants.

Paralysed from the chest down with serious spinal injuries, Alex is a full-time wheelchair user but he never gave up on his dream to pilot an aircraft.

Alex Krol And Tecnam

He said:  “I was gutted to leave the Marines. I was young, ambitious and having the time of my life before my career was cut short.

“After the accident, I was in a bad way for a couple of years but I soon realised I was still fit and I tried as many activities as possible. I still had that ‘can do’ mentality that is instilled in every recruit throughout Commando training.”

In 2008, Alex applied for a scholarship with Flying Scholarships for the Disabled. He went to RAF Cranwell and was lucky enough to get a full scholarship for 45 hours flying in South Africa to do his private pilot’s licence.

Currently Alex has to travel from Liverpool to London to use a plane especially adapted for disabled people to fly but hopes soon that hand-controls will be ready to fit to a plane at Liverpool John Lennon airport.

He then plans to introduce flying to other disabled veterans in the area, through flying school Ravenair.

Alex said: “Flying gives me an amazing buzz. Being disabled, there are not many thrills in life but this is definitely one of them. 

Alex Krol In Uniform

“Flying a plane is hard enough. But wheeling up to a plane knowing the spotters are looking over my shoulder thinking ‘but where's that bloke’s instructor’ gives me a great kick. I'm hoping others will take my lead and join me one day.”

Alex is actively involved with disabled flying charity called Aerobility.

He said: “We are hoping to host Help for Hero Flying days throughout 2016 for wounded injured or sick personnel to come and try their hand at flying. Hoists and winches will be available to enter and exit the plane for those with limited mobility like myself.”

Mike Miller-Smith, Aerobility Chief Executive, said: “Aerobility exists to make aviation accessible to all, whatever the disability, and our close partnership with Help for Heroes is effective in making participation in flying and aviation activities accessible to the wounded, injured and sick military community.

“Flying is not just great fun, but, in the background, it also helps re-instill confidence and skills for those that participate.

“It is a privilege for Aerobility to support Alex in his flying goals. His enthusiasm is infectious, he has a great aptitude for flight, and we look forward to working with him to bring accessible flying to Liverpool and the North West.”

Alex, who is from Aintree and went to Maricourt School in Maghull, said staying positive and getting involved with sports and fitness has been the key to his recovery.

Alex Krol At University Of Liverpool

He is a wheelchair skills trainer with the charity Whizz Kids and goes into schools and hospitals to teach people how to become more proficient in using there wheelchairs. Help for Heroes funded him with a light weight wheelchair to help him deliver these sessions.

Alex is a member of Help for Heroes Band of Brothers, network, which provides life-long support to those with a career limiting/ending injury or illness attributable to service.

He said: “Help for Heroes has really supported me. They have awarded me a number of grants and I have been away on several events with the Charity, such as the Wounded Warrior Solider NYC Ride 2015. I also took part in a flight simulation day with Band of Brothers at the University of Liverpool, which was a fantastic experience.

“Help for Heroes has also helped me out with one or two flying courses as well as a lot of sports equipment.”

Alex is also a keen skier and is a member of the Armed Forces Para Snowsports Team, representing his country at the highest level. The Help for Heroes Quick Reaction Fund provided a grant for Alex for a carbon-fibre-sit-ski. The ultra-keen athlete also takes part in triathlons and did the Help for Heroes Hero Ride in 2015, using his specially adapted handbike, funded by his former unit.

Bryn Parry, CEO and Co-founder of Help for Heroes said: “Help for Heroes is proud to be supporting Alex as he rebuilds his life beyond injury.

Alex Krol And Tecnam 2

“We understand that no recovery journey follows the same path which is why it so important that a holistic, individual approach to support is available.

“We are excited to follow Alex’s progress with his flying and are committed to supporting him, and all those who have been injured in the line of duty, for life.”

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Prince Harry visits UK Invictus Hopefuls with 100 days to go

Prince Harry today dropped in on UK team Invictus Games hopefuls as they were taking part in trials at the University of Bath Sports Training Village 100 days ahead of the second-ever Invictus Games, in May this year.

The Invictus Games Foundation Patron met with serving and veteran servicemen and women who are using sport as part of their recovery, and who hope to be selected as part of the 100 strong UK team that will head out to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida from 8 – 12 May 2016.

Familiar faces from the 2014 Invictus Games were joined by many new sign-ups who have all been spurred on by the inaugural games in 2014 and the day-to-day sports recovery activity that takes place. The Invictus Games set out to harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for our wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.

INVICTUS GAMES 1

The UK team will be selected based on the benefit the Invictus Games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with performance and commitment to training.

Hopefuls will have the opportunity to take part in ten sports at the trials, which run across three days (29 – 31 Jan): Athletics; Archery; Wheelchair Basketball; Road Cycling; Powerlifting; Indoor Rowing; Wheelchair Rugby; Swimming, Sitting Volleyball, and Wheelchair Tennis.

Continued training will take place across the country at Recovery Centres and other external venues as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme to train, select and develop the team.

The Royal British Legion will be supporting the Friends and Family of the UK Team as part of its work to recognise the vital and valuable contribution that family and friends make to the recovery of wounded, injured or sick Service personnel and veterans. The Legion will co-ordinate travel, accommodation and tickets for family and friends attending the games in Florida to ensure that every participant can enjoy the support of their loved ones. The charity will provide support and pastoral care here in the UK while participants are preparing for the Games, and in Orlando during the event itself.

INVICTUS GAMES 2

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “I wish all those taking part in the trials the best of luck. Having made great sacrifices while protecting their country, they are rising to a new challenge with strength and determination. The Invictus Games will provide inspiration and opportunity and will demonstrate the importance of sport in the recovery process.”

Jaguar Land Rover is proud to support the UK Team. Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director Jeremy Hicks said: “As a proud British brand, Jaguar Land Rover UK is delighted to be supporting the UK Team and continuing our long-standing relationship with many of the competitors. We also look forward to forming new relationships and supporting those who are using the power of sport to help their recovery.”

INVICTUS GAMES 3

The Endeavour Fund, a project led by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry which supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation, has provided funding to support the UK Armed Forces team who will compete during the 2016 Invictus Games.

The Invictus Games Orlando 2016, will take place from 8 – 12 May 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

Tickets for the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 will go on sale in February. However, from today fans can reserve their tickets by clicking here.

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Canals and Veterans come together as Heritage Heroes is awarded £500,000 dream fund

The UK’s canals and heroic Veterans are the winners in People’s Postcode Lottery’s ‘Dream Fund’. Leading charities Canal & River Trust and Help for Heroes were delighted to receive the £500,000 award for their ‘Heritage Heroes’ project at a gala awards ceremony held last night (28 January) in Edinburgh.

Canal & River Trust and Help for Heroes have come together for the first time with an ambitious plan to change the lives of ex-servicemen and women through a programme of canal restoration, transforming waterways across England in the process.

Canals Award

The project will train ex-servicemen or women with an accredited qualification as they recruit volunteers to help transform the waterways. Around 200,000 local people will be involved through events, walks, education programmes and other activities.

Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “The ‘Dream Fund’ gives organisations the opportunity to work on projects that they could only dream of. Heritage Heroes will make such a difference to the lives of so many and I am delighted that as a result of support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery that this dream can now become a reality.”

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said:  “I’m absolutely delighted that this ambitious project has been chosen for People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund. Working with veterans who have done so much to serve their nation, and with local volunteer groups, we will be restoring and renewing canals for the people and communities around them.

“The project will teach the ex-servicemen skills in land-based management and construction. Inspiring and working with volunteers they will be rebuilding locks, restoring canal-side hedgerows, making repairs to canal heritage and getting thousands of local people to connect with their local waterway.”

Susan Turnbull, head of career recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “Leaving the military and finding a new direction can be daunting especially for those who are living with life-changing injuries and illnesses. This project has afforded us the opportunity to help rebuild the lives of countless wounded injured and sick servicemen, women and veterans who remain highly skilled and motivated, whilst also restoring our forgotten canals.

“When an injury occurs to our servicemen and women, it can change their life instantly and, before they know it, what they thought would be a career for life has gone. Suddenly they are left with the feeling of “What next?” This project will give them not only a sense of purpose, but will help develop new skills that will set them on the path for a new and purposeful career. A recent study we commissioned revealed that at least 66,090 service personnel will need our support now or in the future. The People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund has given us the chance to offer these wounded heroes renewed hope and we are extremely grateful.”

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