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16 Mar 2022
Chichester Bus Driver Allen Harper has been sleeping outside as part of a fundraising campaign to raise crucial funds for homeless veterans affected by the pandemic.
Allen is taking part in Royal British Legion Industries’ Great Tommy Sleep Out which will see participants brave the cold for a night this March in aid of the roughly 6,000 military veterans living on the streets in the UK.
He has joined more than 11,500 people throughout the country who have already signed up to the challenge. Every penny raised by the campaign will go directly to RBLI’s wide range of services providing a home, welfare and employment support to military veterans.
RBLI, which is a separate charity to the Royal British Legion, provides a home to more than 300 veterans and their families through its Kent village, including homeless veterans through their emergency accommodation Mountbatten Pavilion.
At the heart of the village is the charity’s social enterprise factory, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, which provides employment opportunities to veterans and people with disabilities. Throughout the pandemic, the team in BBMC have been helping to keep the county running producing signs for major infrastructure project, pallets for the transportation of food and ventilators and hand sanitizers for the telecoms industry. The team have also been fulfilling the thousands of challenge fundraising packs which include a beanie hat and booklet printed professionally in-house.
All veterans living on the village are provided with a tailored welfare support programme to help them regain their independence and overcome challenges caused by physical or mental disability, drug or alcohol dependency and unemployment.
Allen said “After leaving the army I struggled to adjust to civilian life. Everything was turned upside down, career, friends and my sense of purpose was lost in an instant. Luckily I had a partner and child who needed my support and they helped me to find my feet again.
Some veterans are not that lucky; we have a saying ‘once a soldier, always a solider’ so when I saw the challenge advertised I had to take part. I decided that one night wasn’t enough so I decided to give up my bed and sleep out for every night during March.”
“I joined Stagecoach in 2014, it was a role that helped me settle back into civilian life. Stagecoach took me through my PCV driving test at the driving school in Winchester, and they’ve supported me in this challenge by providing a secure outdoor location to spend some of my nights, as well as colleagues sponsoring the challenge too.”