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Keighley & Aire Valley division of the SSAFA Forces Help group takes on more staff and moves to bigger office to cope with rise in caseload
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 than 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 only two of us serving as caseworkers, so it was a bit overwhelming.
“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 I’m helping now is 93 and the youngest is 22.
“If it’s something we can’t support our clients with we refer them to someone who can. But it’s rare for us to find that we can’t help people.”
Mr Kendall, who lives in Oakworth, served in the Army’s Royal Signals Corps for ten years.
He said Keighley’s division of SSAFA was delighted to be the chosen charity for next year’s Haworth 1940s Weekend. But he added 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 campaign to attract more volunteers.
He said the group needed a steady influx of newcomers to replace members who had stepped down due.
People willing to help locally can contact Keighley & Aire Valley SSAFA Forces Help on 01535 669354, 07960 512707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.