Blesma,The Limbless Veterans officially 90 years in the making
In our last edition of Arena Digest, we reported that Ubique Lodge No 1789 raised £6,000 at their 2021 Summer Ball in aid of the charity Blesma. Subsequently, we contacted Blesma to find out more about their wonderful work to support limbless Veterans and how Ubique Lodge’s donation is helping our ex-Service men and women.
The First World War led to the birth of nearly 18,000 charities, of which just ten still exist today. Blesma, The Limbless Veterans is one of them.
Dedicated to assisting active and ex-service men and women who have suffered the loss of a limb(s) or the loss of use of a limb(s), an eye or loss of sight, either during or after service, the Association support these men and women in their communities throughout the UK.
Since 1932, and celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Blesma has been the only national Services charity that supports limbless veterans for the duration of their lives, helping a staggering 62,000 injured servicemen and women. Their members range from the youngest amputee Veteran to those who fought in WWII, some having lived with limb loss for more than half a century. Despite advances in modern medicine, there is still a vital need for Blesma to support the younger generations, and their families, who have coped with complex trauma injuries and will need specialised support as they face the long journey ahead.
How Blesma provides support:
- Fellowship: Members have been supporting their fellow members since the very first days of Blesma. This allows Blesma to draw upon a shared knowledge base of experience; of traumatic injury, recuperation, and eventual stability. In addition, Blesma’s welfare team offers precise professional support when it is needed.
- Prosthetics: Blesma does not generally pay for members’ prosthetics, but they do help prosthetists develop their skills at undergraduate and PhD levels. Blesma also works closely with the NHS to ensure the latest technological advances in the relevant medical fields are converted into practical solutions that can benefit all their members, and often the civilian population as well.
- Advice: Blesma includes experts in the War Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) and various other allowances. They offer advice and assistance on applications for entitlements, benefits, and allowances. They also aid members and Widows at War Pension Tribunals and AFCS Hearings.
- Grants: Blesma offers financial assistance with the additional costs and hardships of disability, contributing to the provision of wheelchairs, stair lifts, and home and garden adaptations so that members can remain mobile and independent in their own homes.
- Employment: Since its inception, Blesma has campaigned for equal employment rights, opportunities and practices and strives to help members find fulfilling employment.
- Independent advocacy: Blesma provides independent advocacy on behalf of individuals, networking with local and national representatives.
- Members’ activities: Staying active after an injury is essential to continued health and well-being. Blesma’s activities and courses range from the cerebral to the adrenaline-fuelled and are specifically tailored to each Veteran’s needs.
Blesma has received regular donations from Freemasons, with several Lodges having a direct connection to the Armed Forces. In the last four years, Blesma has received £35,000 from 64 Masonic Lodges in the UK and overseas.
In particular, Ubique Lodge’s donation of £6,000 could help fund the following:
- five pieces of mobility equipment from wheelchairs to mobility scooter repairs and purchases
- four personal emergency alarms to help Veterans or widows remain independent at home
- five home maintenance-related costs from décor, removals or utilities
- three garden grants to help Veterans access their outside space and keep their gardens tidy
- three other essential items or services from counselling to individual adaptive recreational equipment and employability training
- Fourteen Veterans or widows to attend a local or regional outreach activity from golf days to coffee mornings, lunches and brunches.
W Bro Barry Adamson of Ubique Lodge commented: “Once our Worshipful Master, W Bro Jack Hargreaves MVO decided that in his year of office he would wish to support Blesma, we made it our focus to raise funds culminating with our 2021 Summer Ball.”
If you would like to know how you can support Blesma, please visit www.blesma.org
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 49 August 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 49 here.