Like all, The RCEL is now into the third week of a new way of conducting business. The focus of the UK Government has rightly been on the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the work of the UK military charity sector at home. However, we would like to assure all that we continue to support those veterans and widows who served The Crown, either British or Commonwealth citizens, living abroad.
Our Business Continuity measures are holding up but it is challenging for some of the Member Organisations in our 48 countries who are already operating in difficult circumstances. No one country is at exactly the same point on the pandemic curve and each country has implemented different levels of restriction. Some significantly more restrictive than seen in the United Kingdom.
Over the last week we have asked our Member Organisations across the world to complete a questionnaire in order to allow us to design a unique process for each in order to assist them in the delivery of vital welfare support at this very difficult time for all. Our Member Organisations have stepped up and we are able, with the help of the 40 or so UK based military charities, to continue to support those who are in desperate need. The measures to put in place practical and realistic short term processes by the UK military charities have been hugely appreciated by all overseas.
The analysis of the responses to our questionnaire, which will be of interest to many are:
As of 8 April, 65% of Member Organisations have completed and returned the survey. Of those:
· 74% are still able to deliver aid and the remaining 26% are developing alternative delivery methods
· 68% are in official lockdown but all remain functioning
· 87% are in touch with beneficiaries directly with the other 13% relying on family and friends
Only one country has confirmed cases amongst beneficiaries (number not specified). Two suspected but unconfirmed deaths among those beneficiaries.
Four Member Organisations have no alternative method of distribution other than cash. All others who currently distribute via cash are looking at alternatives such as phone or electronic transfer.
Of those countries not in official lockdown, restrictions of some form are in place including a declared State of Emergency, travel restrictions and curfews.
Some countries are developing plans to distribute funds if the restrictions continue over the coming month.
Many good practices, especially relating to alternative distribution methods and protecting beneficiaries and caseworkers, are being shared.
Morale is high amongst Member Organisations despite the challenges.
Many of our Member Organisations are behind the UK pandemic curve so we have been able to share with them the UK Government advice and lessons being learned from other countries. This has been well received. The RCEL remains very grateful to all supporters with whom we work, particularly at this time of great uncertainty. Our survey shows that despite the challenges we all face The RCEL is very much open for business as we strive to ensure our overseas Comrades in Arms are not forgotten.