Posted by: madkentdragon | February 3, 2010


OK, I’ve now been retired two whole weeks and I feel free! When I finally left I felt as if a ton weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Why? I think it’s because I can now volunteer to work as and when I want to – I know it will be for free, but the only expectations will be mine.

When I left I was supposed to fill a tick box on the job and how I felt about it – but what’s the point? HR don’t even know or understand the duties of a County Secretary, the job description did not explain 25% of the duties & “occasional” weekends was a vast understatement – my replacement has at least 17 Saturdays in his diary – I know because I helped set the County events list before I retired. So come on HR pull your socks up and realise that there are a raft of overworked under supported diligent people in the field offices that need help. You employ trainers in that ivory tower – but you ask for a course and it’s BOUGHT in? Why?? Because, you like the other departments are too busy empire building and ignoring the other departments that you’ve lost contact with who and what the Legion is about.

Corporate Communications win awards for great publicity on campaigns but then can’t be bothered to send out an e-mail to let field staff know what’s happening. Instead they put it on an in-house intranet that field staff don’t get time to read! So they don’t communicate – do they?

I’ve found in the 20 years that I worked for the Legion that things have got worse, because there are so many non-member employees who don’t even know what our governance document (Royal Charter) is that they have lost touch with the core beliefs of this great charity.

At the other end, although most of HQ don’t ever bother about them are the volunteers and members who do a lot of very good work for the charity. OK – a lot of members join because of the Clubs & the cheaper beer – but the committees who run the clubs put in a lot of hours at no charge to make sure that the Club succeeds and that way our membership – who all pay an annual fee – is kept quite high. This pays a lot of wages – HQ!

Those who volunteer to help as welfare visitors go out any time they are asked to visit the veterans and their families to make sure they have what they need, from a wet-room because they can’t use the bath, a stairlift, an electrically powered wheel chair –  right the way through to just a bit of help filling in forms or popping in to see them at home or in hospital – even school uniforms have been supplied this way.

Then you’ve got the poppy collectors and fundraisers – admittedly not all members but often a non-member will organise the collection before Remembrance but the members (often elderly) will be the little old fellow at the railway station or supermarket with his tray of poppies and collecting tin. The same with coffee mornings and bring & buy sales – this is the real face of the Legion – OK a lot of people look at them marching behind the Standard on Remembrance Sunday – and say “A lot of old farts on parade” – but look now – in the light of recent conflicts – there’s quite a few youngsters among them. After all WWII is now forgotten – but Iraq etc are still there and this generation don’t want their mates forgotten.

So all in all as an outsider looking in – but with the benefit of inside knowledge I’d say this:

The Royal British Legion is a worthwhile Charity founded in 1921 by a generation of young ex-servicemen and their ethos is still there, however the Headquarters needs to get out and meet them and support the staff in field offices who have day-to-day contact with the members and start COMMUNICATING with them – you won’t know what you had until you’ve lost it. Especially all those volunteers who do so much for nothing.


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