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Annual Review 2011/12 

Chief Executive’s Welcome

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By producing the Annual Review in the format of a web document, we are able to share with you highlights of our work in imaginative and engaging ways. So, as well as reading words and looking at photographs, you can watch a number of videos and click on links to gain further information about our support to Scotland’s Armed Forces community.

It is important to note that instead of the 12 months normally under review, we this year cover an 18-month period of activity, from 1 April 2011 to 30 September 2012. The reason for this is because in June 2011 Poppyscotland merged with The Royal British Legion, which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to become the largest Armed Forces charity in the UK. We will remain a separate, distinct charity within the TRBL group of charities but one of the immediate changes we have made is to align our reporting period with that of The Royal British Legion. Future Annual Reviews will cover a 12-month period, doing, to coin a phrase, exactly what it says on the tin.

The merger with The Royal British Legion took place because we were determined to increase the support available to veterans living north of the Border. Since then we have been examining how best to address the needs of the community in Scotland. Extensive research has provided us with an understanding of the types of services that are required now and an insight into how these needs will develop over the next 10 years. As a result, we are producing a five-year plan, which we believe will transform the range of services we are able to deliver.

2011 was an unforgettable year for Poppyscotland as we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Scottish Poppy Appeal. Thanks to the generosity of the public and the dedication of our remarkable volunteers, we achieved a record £2.68 million, a 14.7% increase on the year before. A number of other successful initiatives took place during the Appeal, including the creation of Scotland’s first ever Field of Remembrance, where 11,000 crosses displaying heartfelt messages of remembrance and support were planted in Princes Street Gardens, raising £242,000. Our community fundraising and retail merchandising continued to grow, the second of these by as much as 111%, generating £128,000. Our education programme supported the 90th anniversary theme through a short film competition, with an encouraging number of entries from schools across Scotland.

Crucial to this successful outcome has been the role played by our many volunteers and supporters. Organisations such as rotary clubs, schools, student groups, churches and many, many others worked tirelessly throughout the Appeal period, and in many cases over the whole year, to support and raise funds for our work. Individuals, whether acting as Poppy Appeal Area Organisers, running local events or simply holding a collecting tin, played a huge part too. Royal British Legion Scotland branches and members acting as Area Organisers and volunteers once again made an immense contribution, raising 32% of our 2011 Appeal income, a total of £852,538, a simply phenomenal achievement.

The money that we raise through our fundraising programme makes a significant impact on the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the veterans’ community in Scotland. When the first Scottish Poppy Appeal took place 90 years ago, no-one could have foreseen that it would still be needed today. Sadly, Poppyscotland is needed as much now as ever before with more and more veterans requiring support to help them cope with often complex and multiple needs.

With this in mind, energy and innovation has been evident in our welfare activity. We continued to support veterans and their families by providing financial grants, employment training grants and mobility aids. Our largest area of support has been through our grants to organisations that deliver specialist services for veterans. Our flexible approach means that we can direct our funding to where the need is greatest and during the period covered by this Annual Review we have supported initiatives in the areas of employment, housing and mental health.

As well as progressing our own projects, we recognise the benefits of collaboration in order to maximise the reach and effectiveness of our services. An excellent example of this is our Armed Services Advice Project, delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland and funded by Poppyscotland and other charities. By providing confidential and expert advice to members of the Armed Forces community it has helped 1,723 clients and brought them total financial gain of £1,060,587, an impressive return of £2.65 for every £1 it has cost to run.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Poppyscotland’s thousands of volunteers and supporters, prominent among them members of the Royal British Legion Scotland. Poppyscotland is at the threshold of a new and exciting era, in which we will have the means and impetus to do more and better for our beneficiaries, and I thank you all for your unforgettable support.