….. so off I went to the Swindon 105.5 Radio Station this morning for the Girls About Town programme that starts at 10.00 a.m.  Our guest this morning was Richard Warren from a new charity shop in the town centre, "Forces Support".  As you might guess by the name, it supports those who have been in our armed forces and who are finding life a challenge either because they are veterans, or are now back in “Civvy Street” after a period in the forces, if they have been injured whilst on active service or family members who have been bereaved. 

Of course, we had to have the obligatory “selfie” so I took this one of Jo, Richard and me.  When he saw the shot, Richard, who had to almost kneel down to get in the shot, remarked that I looked very small - when I tell you that Jo is 4 inches taller than me and Richard is almost 6 feet tall, it’s hardly surprising that I looked small!

One of the aims of Forces Support is “to ensure that the parents, widows and children of families bereaved through a military death can access practical support throughout the UK and that they have equal access to our support.”

Richard gave us examples of how they had helped many ex-servicemen and women in our town and the income from the shop provides the means for them to do that. 

My mind was in overdrive, therefore, when Richard told us that they had built scooter shelters for veterans using money from their charity shops.  I had visions of 90 year olds on little scooters with wide handlebars and small wheels - just like I had when I was about 9 years old - but of course, he meant mobility scooters - silly me!  As he explained, if veterans lived in a small flat, they had nowhere to house their scooter so the shelters were a boon and meant that the veterans didn’t need to worry about their scooters being dry and safe.  What a great idea and financed by those who support the shops in different areas of the UK.

The shops are run mainly by volunteers, with people like Richard, whose background is in retail, helping out on the managerial side, but he did say that they didn’t have too many "people at the top" so were able to plough the money raised back into the work that the charity does and wants to do for those who need their help.  At the moment in Swindon they have about twenty volunteers but are always looking for more to help out in the shop and to sort out the items that are given to the charity.  

One thing that pleased me was that they take all types of furniture providing it’s decent and in the case of sofas and upholstered chairs, they do need a Fire Certificate attached.  I remember when we were trying to dispose of some very nice teak units a couple of years ago, we asked about three charities to come and look at them, but they all refused them, saying there was no call for teak!  I would have thought that if someone has nothing, they would be happy with teak, oak or pine, so it’s good to know that the Forces Support shop in our town is willing to take decent furniture to help those who are struggling.

All in all, a great morning and Richard and the Forces Support charity got the “thumbs up” from Jo and me, so we will be decluttering and taking our bags to Richard and his team to sort out.  After meeting Richard, and hearing his story, this quote describes him and all he is aiming to do for the charity.

Do more than belong….participate.
Do more than care…
Do more than believe…..practise.
Do more than be fair… kind.
Do more than forgive…..forget.
Do more than dream…
William Arthur Ward

P.S.  Under Door number 4 of my Advent Calendar supporting the SeeAbility charity it said : "Today you have helped to provide specialist therapies enabling someone with learning disabilities and sight loss to achieve things they never thought possible."

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