It's been a wee while since I posted an update about Holidays4heroes. I thought you might like one in this, a month of reflection.
About 100 families have been whisked away to Spain since April, others have been to Gibraltar, France, Portugal, Turkey, Cyprus and the US. Either widows, the injured, traumatised or quite simply those who are on their uppers, we've flooded destinations with Servicemen past and present, the youngest being 20 the oldest being 91
Other have been to locations within the UK, from respite care in the Lakes to adventure holidays in Scotland.
Currently we are running two locations in Spain, one being Le Torre although there are now no flights there until April, when we hope the route will be reopened by a number of operators. We've become established there and its been a tiresome exercise to move from Le Torre and recce other places. The other is a resort just outside Alicante, but in no way is it permanent, its just not the same as Le Torre!
Homeless, hungry, broke, separated, imprisoned and robbed; we've had them all. Illness, disease, stranded.... the limits of the problems that ex serviceman and serving men can get themselves into is as vast and varied as the areas on the planet they populate.
Its very, very rare we have to turn a case away, but when that's happened its usually as a result of not having the resources of the other more grown up types of organisation (SSAFA, Combat Stress, RBL, ABF) which are better equipped to deal with intermediate and long term solutions.
We've dealt with well over 100 cases in the last six months.
In our minds, one of the best parts of this organisation is the very quick reaction time. We can lift a bloke off the streets in ten minutes flat, no red tape, no committees, no grand board meeting, just a quick check on service number etc and its dealt with in an instant.
Its allowed us to put food on the tables for families of men who, (and this is an ongoing problem), simply cannot admit that they need help.
How we spend your money
We've bought cars and people carriers in Spain, insured them, maintained them and run them. We've rented villas, (peoples goodwill can only stretch so far, and we've have that many to Spain this year I am considering approaching the resort and asking for a NAAFI bar!). We've payed for flights, train tickets, given spending money where needed, funded passports, payed rental bonds and maintained Ian (the Hols4heroes rep) in Spain.
Accounts are being audited but we've raised around £150k this year, and if you look at how far thats stretched, we have done well.
We are grateful to all who donate. No funds are spent on administration and we are particularly grateful to those who have contributed large sums, who have introduced new donors and those who have made personal sacrifice on our behalf. Of note is the kind and substantial donation from the Charitable Committee of the Merchant Taylor's Company and their kind offer of advice and support over the coming year.