Britons urged to wear poppies to support our veterans
The Royal British Legion launched its annual Poppy Appeal 2023 Thursday, raising funds for armed forces veterans and their families.
The Remembrance tradition started after the First World War with wearing red poppies used as a sign to honour British servicemen and women since 1921.
One veteran who will be supporting the campaign is Mel Bensley from Nottingham who served in Northern Ireland as part of the Women’s Royal Army Corps and later the Royal Signals.
“In 1991 I actually stood in Aldershot selling poppies” she said.
“It’s not just about the First and Second World Wars. It’s about everyone who’s passed away or been injured in every conflict since.”
Mel became homeless in 2022 after PTSD from her tours during the Northern Ireland conflict resurfaced, turning to alcohol during lockdown to cope. She lost the pub she was landlady at and where she was living making her homeless.
“I don't know what to do with myself, I became very lonely and scared. I started closing down. The only thing I knew what to do with myself was reach for alcohol to make me feel human. It made me feel something.”
“Over time the alcohol was getting more control over me to the extent that it controlled me, and I didn’t control it.”
Local homelessness and housing support charity Framework helped Mel build back her life through drug and alcohol support, plus arranging a permanent home. Now she helps others overcome trauma.
In the last year, homelessness has increased in Nottingham by 51 per cent according to the charity.
Around 7.4 per cent of veterans have PTSD compared to 4 per cent of the public according to a study by Kings College. The condition is just one reason why some ex-forces are sleeping rough.
The Royal British Legion supports veterans and their families struggling with the effects PTSD and adjusting to life after service can bring including homelessness, substance abuse, and loneliness.
Director of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, Andy Taylor-Whyte said:
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to get a poppy this year and show their gratitude and support to those in the Armed Forces whose service and sacrifice should never be forgotten.”
The British Legion makes 170,000 poppies a day to meet British demand during Remembrance.
There have been 10 variations of the poppy including silk, cardboard and plastic.