A VISION FOR OUTREACH
"As a veteran of campaigns in Northern Ireland, The Balkans, The Gulf, and latterly two prolonged and very demanding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have seen many comrades leave the Services carrying injuries both mental and physical that will be with them in some form for life.
When interviewed by the Commissioners for the post of Governor I therefore stated that if I got the job I would not only do my utmost to ensure that the 300 or so Pensioners continue to be cared for to the highest standards, and to preserve our glorious buildings for them and for the Nation, but that I would seek to leverage the influence and reputation of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to provide more direct support to veterans, particularly the elderly, living outside our Chelsea home.
This important programme will deliver on the aspiration to provide Outreach services to tens of thousands of veterans from all three Services who live outside the Royal Hospital."
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw
KCB OBE DL - Governor
Our comprehensive active ageing programme here at the Royal Hospital Chelsea encourages Chelsea Pensioners to support each other, just as they did in the British Army. This includes spending time together socially, accompanying each other on visits and activities, going with fellow Pensioners to external medical appointments, and visiting comrades in hospital. Veterans together, with their shared experience of the Service ethos and of the rigours of military campaigns, can be of enormous help to each other, leveraging the bonds between veterans that go beyond the spoken word. This can be of significant benefit to their mental health and wellbeing, particularly in dealing with the effects of PTSD. Chelsea Pensioners also work together to support the routine and services of the Royal Hospital and contribute to the community to which they belong.
The Royal Hospital is immensely grateful for the annual Ministry of Defence funding that meets about half of the cost of providing services to our resident Chelsea Pensioners and maintaining our buildings. But now, by providing our unique brand of comradeship, care and sense of community, we want to help not only the 300 or so fortunate and deserving Pensioners living here, but also many from amongst the almost two million veterans from all three Armed Services and the Merchant Navy who live beyond our gates.
The Chelsea Outreach programme has begun to operate from new facilities here at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including the purpose-built Activities Centre and, in due-course, the adjacent Outreach, Heritage and Visitor Centre. We will offer supported activity groups, talks, demonstrations and refreshments for veterans who visit us for a morning, afternoon or the whole day. The Royal Hospital's extensive grounds and gardens will provide the health and wellbeing benefits of urban green spaces. The programme aims to provide comradeship and a sense of community to veterans of the three Armed Services and Merchant Navy, in particular to those over the age of 65, who might benefit from the company of other veterans who have shared the Service ethos and experienced the unique challenges of military campaigning and keeping the peace.