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Help for Heroes restructuring plan puts 143 staff roles at risk

Undated handout photo issued by Help for Heroes of Brian Edwards, known as Eddy, a former soldier who was told he was unlikely to walk again following a car crash. Mr Edwards is hiking 360 miles across England and Wales for the charity.

By Tom Pilgrim, PA

Military charity Help for Heroes has announced plans to cut 143 staff roles due to the “devastating financial impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK charity, which supports sick or injured veterans and their families, said it had made the “difficult” decision to restructure to protect its “life-changing recovery services”.

In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, Help for Heroes said it relied on public donations for 97% of its income, but this had “reduced hugely” in recent months.

Since April, all its planned face-to-face fundraising events and activities have been cancelled or postponed.

The charity said: “We are also anticipating a 30% reduction in Help for Heroes regular income over the coming years with the ongoing economic recession.

“This loss of income, coupled with a significant surge in demand for our recovery services during the height of the pandemic, means we have no choice but to review our service delivery and put 143 staff roles at risk.”

Help for Heroes said demand for its mental health support rose 33% during lockdown in May and June, when compared to the same period last year.

There was also nearly 30% more new referrals to the charity’s physical health focused service.

The charity said its recovery centres in Catterick in Yorkshire, Colchester in Essex and Plymouth in Devon will not be operating “for the foreseeable future”, as it focuses on face-to-face community and digital services.

Covid-secure services are due to return to the Tedworth House centre in Wiltshire in the coming months, with Help for Heroes also looking to reopen a community office in Wales.

Increased numbers of staff will be put towards new Community Rehabilitation Teams being introduced across England and in Wales from October.

The charity said it already had to furlough nearly 40% of its staff for up to seven months earlier this year.

Melanie Waters, Help for Heroes chief executive, said: “In 2007, we made a promise on behalf of the nation to provide lifetime support to wounded veterans, and their families, and we are striving to keep that promise.

“The crisis has had a devastating impact on the whole UK charity sector, with lasting consequences, and it has hit us hard.

“These tough decisions have been made to protect the future of the charity and have been taken with our beneficiaries in mind.

“We remain absolutely committed to our wounded and their families and will continue fighting for, and changing the lives of, those we support for as long as they need it.”

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