A LEADING military charity needs fresh frontline recruits in the county to cope with a rise in former service personnel  and their families needing help.

SSAFA has confirmed a  23 per cent increase in the number of cases it has dealt with in the county over the past year.

At this stage, the charity believes the rise is a result of budgetary restraints on national and local government and a “ growing awareness”  of  what SSAFA can offer.

A key factor is  said to be the  establishment of The Military Charities Helpdesk - in Herefordshire Council’s customer service centre - which SSAFA manage in partnership with the Royal British Legion.

Chairman of the Herefordshire Branch of SSAFA, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Smart saluted an “an excellent team of dedicated, well trained volunteers” already in place and offering advice on issues such as housing matters, medical help and accessing the benefits system.

“This work can be demanding and people are asked to devote some spare time to casework but it is also very rewarding and you don’t need to have been in the armed forces to volunteer,” he said.

Tony French,  a SSAFA caseworker for four years, said he signed up to help those “who have given so much” and for whatever reason find themselves needing help.

“Only recently I was able to help an ex-serviceman who needed some assistance with a complex medical problem. Along with other agencies we were able to get him some independent living aids and adaptations he needed and now he as a much better quality of life,” said Tony.

SSAFA offers full  training to those “joining up” and, although the work is voluntary, expenses are paid for travel.

For more contact Herefordshire SSAFA on 01432 273932.