The County President invited Branch Presidents to Chavenage for lunch on 16 June. The purpose was to brief them on work being undertaken on their behalf and also to provide an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. The County was fortunate to have the National Chairman, John Crisford, attend and give the keynote speech; additionally the SW Midlands Area Manager and the County CFR were also there to field questions.
As well as the Branch Presidents there were a number of County Vice Presidents. Also in attendance were the County Chairman, County Vice Chairman, County MSO, County Training Officer, and County Publicity and Recruiting Officer; see link for attendees.
Keynote speech summary
The Keynote speech addressed the Legion’s work over the past year, and highlighted some of the dilemmas and concerns for the future. Welfare service delivery accounts for 70% of the paid staffs work, 50% of whom work in our care and break homes with only 20% of Legion staff working from Haig House. Each one of our paid fundraising staff last year was responsible for generating £651,000.
Last year’s income was £133.5M, of which 61 pence in the pound was in the form of donations with roughly half coming from the Poppy Appeal. Poppy Appeal income at the end of March stood at £42M which represents an 18% increase in comparison to last year. Our Direct Marketing continues with our door-to-door activity finding 11,000 new supporters who on average donate a direct debit of £9.20 per month.
Members and volunteers are hugely important in getting our work done. Our staff could not get the work done without our members and volunteers but equally our members and volunteers could not get the work done without our staff. It's a partnership and together we are stronger than the sum of our parts.
We have this year awarded 7,414 Immediate Needs and Crisis grants. In the last quarter alone the value of our grants totalled £1.9M. A further 1,670 individuals are being supported by projects funded through our external grants programme such as the Battle Back Centre. Our commissioned services include Independent Living Advice, Outreach, Benefit and Money Advice - with Child Benefit, Tax Credits, War Pensions and Medical Discharge being the most requested. This shows that the people are accessing information
Annual Conference attendance by Branches this year was disappointingly low. Although Counties were well represented their delegates are only permitted by our Royal Charter to take part in the debate. They cannot influence the outcome of Charter or General Motions by voting, that power lies only with Branch delegates. With the low branch delegate representation, democracy in action was limited and as such is a dereliction of duty. That such a small element of our total membership attends Conference cannot be right and certainly isn't democratic. The Royal British Legion conference is the place to go if you want to change the way that the Legion does business. We have some severe limitations in our governance strategy which is holding the Legion back from being an even more successful charity than it already is. So the Chairman’s call is for branches to send a delegate to Eastbourne next year. Start formulating some good substantial motions which will excite the membership and get them really debating what they want of The Legion in the years ahead and make our organisation a membership organisation that we can all be really proud of. Do nothing and the membership will surely die and that will be a great pity.
The full keynote speech can be found at link.