We chatted with our charity partner, Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI), to discuss their mission, how donations are used, and the importance they have in helping to improve the lives of ex-service personnel.

Seat Unique spoke to Welfare Officer Maria Gallego and veteran Peter Topley about the impact that our charity partner RBLI (Royal British Legion Industries) has on the lives and rehabilitation of ex-armed forces people in the UK.

Keep reading to find out more about the work and methods used by RBLI, and how donations significantly help contribute to the success of the charity.

What is RBLI’s mission?

Since the charity was founded in 1919, RBLI has worked to improve the lives of veterans once they leave the armed forces.

Welfare Officer Maria told us that they “provide bespoke support to veterans - from the minute they come to us, right through to the point that they are integrating back into society.”

Typically, the charity helps “support veterans with mental health issues, addiction problems, and those who are homeless,” as well as disabled people and those who are out of work.

Rehabilitation adopts a variety of techniques including detox programs, mental health assessments and support, housing, and eventually employment and education.

Why is RBLI important to veterans?

For many veterans, the transition towards civilian life can present many difficulties.

RBLI’s community of ex-armed forces members creates a space that encompasses “like-minded people '', whereby the “banter and camaraderie” works as a “vital part of the journey” to stability.

Veteran Peter told us how important this sense of community and likeness has been to him. At RBLI “you can help each other. I know it may sound strange but being ex-service, sometimes you take things differently to what a civilian will”, some people “prefer to talk to somebody who’s ex-service than somebody who’s a civilian” because they understand more.”

Veteran Peter Topley being interviewed by Seat Unique
Image: Veteran Peter Topley, Photograph taken by Sam Lacchin, Social Media and Content Executive at RBLI

At RBLI, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company also offers employment opportunities to veterans. This is particularly important because many of those arriving at RBLI will have had up to “five jobs in a year because they are struggling with their mental health and haven’t had the right help or support.” These opportunities directly contribute to the building of confidence and belief in meaningful work.

Check out our interview with ex-armed forces member Jeff, to discover more about the impact of employment at Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.

How is RBLI different from other charities?

Maria told us that the key difference between RBLI and other charities working for the same cause is that they will accept people with addiction issues.

For many veterans leaving the forces, the struggle to adapt to civilian life results in the development of addiction.

Therefore, it is hugely important that RBLI works to successfully help to end addiction by offering mental health support and detox programmes before pursuing other rehabilitation areas.

How do donations help RBLI?

Donations to RBLI ensure that the charity can continue to do its amazing work and help more vulnerable veterans improve their lives.  

Maria spoke about the importance that donations have on purchasing and improving facilities and equipment, and particularly in helping to take veterans off-site to complete other tasks and activities, such as helping out with gardening programmes at local schools.

The Seat Unique team having a tour of Britain's Bravest Manufacturing Company
Image: The Seat Unique team having a tour of Britain's Bravest Manufacturing Company, Photograph taken by Sam Lacchin, Social Media and Content Executive at RBLI

For Peter, fundraising has played an essential role in the organisation of on-site activities including fish-and-chip nights, bingo, and film nights. He described the importance of these activities, particularly after the pandemic “as people don’t want to come out of their flats and we want to get them back down here as soon as we can to join in again.”

RBLI is working to expand the reach of its programmes by pursuing projects such as getting a bus to open up the potential reach of off-site activities. Meanwhile, Peter is working on launching another Breakfast Club as well as a “kebab or curry night!”

These on-site and off-site activities are essential to helping veterans build relationships and skills, and directly contribute to their rehabilitation and emotional wellbeing.

How can you donate to RBLI?

There are many ways to donate to RBLI including direct contributions through their website, as well as involvement in initiatives such as the Tommy Club.

RBLI is running an exciting new initiative whereby donations of up to £250 will be matched by the National Emergencies Trust Local Action Fund. This is an excellent opportunity to see your donation doubled and have twice the impact on improving veterans' lives.

You can also donate by purchasing merchandise from Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company such as ‘Tommy’ figures for your garden.

Seat Unique works to contribute to the success of RBLI through our WRU Supporter Exchange. To find out more about how you donate to the charity when you buy through the WRU SE, check out our post on “Tickets for Good”.

The work of RBLI is indisputably important to the lives and welfare of veterans in the UK. The charity’s support helps to rehabilitate as well as improve the mental health and future potential of armed forces members when they re-enter civilian life.

Any donation to RBLI, no matter how big or small, will make a difference and contribute to their continued success.