Growing demand leads to Keighley & Aire Valley division of SSAFA Forces Help group seeking bigger premises

Keighley News: Phil Kendall (right) Keighley divisional Phil Kendall (right) Keighley divisional

The Keighley branch of an armed forces charity has moved home to cope with heavy demand for its services.

The Keighley & Aire Valley division of SSAFA Forces Help (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) was set up in March last year.

Until two months ago the group occupied a small room in the Temple Row Centre, but it is now based in a larger office at 182 Skipton Road. The charity shares the building with Aire Valley Counselling & Therapy.

Phil Kendall, divisional secretary of Keighley & Aire Valley SSAFA, said: “We needed to move because the amount of people we were getting through the doors was too much for our small office. We didn’t have privacy for our clients.

“We work mainly on a house visiting basis. But we were encouraging clients to treat our office at Temple Row as a drop-in, because many people are more comfortable speaking face-to-face rather that with someone at the end of a telephone.

“Last year from March to Christmas we dealt with 90 cases, some of which also involved the clients’ families. There are now six of us, but at that time there were initially only two of us serving as caseworkers before another two joined later in the year.

“The issues we deal with can be anything from someone needing their tumble dryer replaced to helping to provide mobility scooters or stairlifts. We help people who are in debt, or people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re here for anyone who has served in the forces, including people who have done National Service or been in the reserves. The oldest person we’re helping now is 93 and the youngest is 22.

“We provide assistance to all cultures and nationalities, as long as they’ve served in the British Forces.”

Mr Kendall, who lives in Oakworth, served in the Royal Signals Corps for ten years.

He said he would welcome additional volunteers prepared to give up a few hours of their time each week.

Bob Holt, the charity’s acting county secretary for West Yorkshire, said the national organisation had been running an advertising campaign to attract more volunteers.

He said the group needed a steady influx of newcomers.

People willing to help locally can contact Keighley & Aire Valley SSAFA Forces Help on (01535) 669354, 07960 512707 or ssafa keighley@yahoo.co.uk.

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