Coronavirus information for Blesma Members
The outbreak of Coronavirus/COVID-19 in the UK, and globally is deeply concerning. As the pandemic continues Blesma is taking daily account of the situation and the governmental measures relating to it. Our absolute first concern is to the health and wellbeing of our Members and staff and we are continually reviewing how we deliver our services to ensure this is the case.
INFORMATION FOR OUR MEMBERS
Please know that Blesma will continue to support its Members in all the ways it can. Ours is an Association founded on a strong sense of community, and this community is more important now than ever.
We have now been able to partially reopen our Chelmsford office in line with Government social distancing guidelines. Most staff will continue to work from home on a rotational basis and we monitor the situation daily in line with government guidance and our ongoing COVID-19 Risk assessments.
In summary, Blesma has continued to support its Members and, where the current pandemic has cut across our usual ways of working, we have adapted and innovated, and utilised the goodwill of our community to make sure all are safe.
SUPPORT IN YOUR AREA
In all aspects it will be as far as possible “business as usual” with physical visits by Blesma Support Officers, Outreach Officers, volunteers and Welfare Representatives replaced by phone and video calls, with some staff even organising virtual events to replace physical get-togethers.
The Blesma Connects app is also a way for Members to keep in touch. If you require any additional support at this time, or wish to volunteer to help those Members who are most in need, please do make contact with your BSO or Outreach Officer.
ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
Please note that due to the current situation with COVID-19 many Activities have been cancelled or postponed. These will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
As the COVID situation changes, our Activities calendar is changing too. Keep up to date with current Activities by checking the Blesma Connects app!
The Activities and Outreach teams have also put together a wide variety of Virtual and at home Activities - why not give one a try?
If you have concerns about national Blesma events/activities, you should make contact with the Activities team at Chelmsford.
Local events are likely to be similarly affected, so please double check arrangements with your local Outreach Officer / Support Officer before you make plans to attend.
Coronavirus, changes to Veterans UK services
As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, and in line with Government public health advice, Veterans UK are taking steps to minimise the risks to veterans and their families.
War Pension Scheme/Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) Medical Examinations
With effect from 17 March 2020, all planned medical examinations in relation to compensation scheme claims will be cancelled for a period of up to 3 months. All veterans with dates for medical examinations during this period will be contacted direct by the DWP’s Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) to confirm cancellation. Veterans UK is now reviewing whether individual War Pension and AFCS claims can be progressed without a medical examination and more information will be issued to those affected in due course. There is no need to contact the Veterans UK helpline at the moment.
Please be reassured that all Armed Forces Pensions payments will continue to be made as usual into your nominated account.
Pension enquiries can still be answered by calling the JPA Enquiry Centre on 0800 085 3600 during the hours of 10am to 4pm.
If you experience a problem with your payments or have an urgent question, please call our helpline service or email Veterans-UK@mod.gov.uk
Veterans Welfare Service/Defence Transition Services/Integrated Personal Commissioning For Veterans Visits
Veterans UK have decided to suspend, apart from in the most exceptional circumstances, all face to face welfare meetings with veterans with immediate effect as a protection for both clients and staff. They will continue to provide advice, information and support via telephone, email or letter and their welfare staff will remain available to assist veterans in need at this difficult time.
Appeal Tribunal Hearings
With effect from 20 March 2020, all appeal hearings in England, Scotland and Wales (against War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme decisions) are being cancelled until further notice. The HM Courts and Tribunals Service are contacting all those with appeals affected. Northern Ireland have not yet made a decision on hearings.
Veterans UK Helpline
Veterans UK have unfortunately had to temporarily close their helpline. Urgent enquiries, including requests for welfare support and for anyone experiencing payment problems, can be sent via email to Veterans-UK@mod.gov.uk . A reply or call back will be provided as quickly as possible but please be aware reply times may be longer. Urgent emotional support is still available as callers in need of immediate emotional support will continue to be given the option to be routed to The Samaritans 24 hour helpline.
Though now is a time in which communities should be coming together, scammers are notoriously opportunistic. Many are using the upheaval cause by the Coronavirus to create convincing scams. These may include fake text messages claiming to be from the Government, or phone calls offering fake refunds on cancelled travel.
Supporting children and young people
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is going to affect daily life, and this change can cause discomfort and distress for all Members of the family. It’s important that as well as looking after their physical health you look after your family’s mental health too.
20th November 2020