Naval charity launches drive to support personnel during cost-of-living crisis

Up to 500,000 naval personnel, veterans and their dependants could be entitled to help with the cost of living crisis from a charity founded 100 years ago.

The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (RNBT) has launched a drive to get people to seek support after research it commissioned showed 57% of people not being familiar with charitable help available to them.

The charity, which is supported by The Railway Children and Call The Midwife actress Jenny Agutter, provides grants to serving and ex-serving men and women ratings and their families, no matter how long they were in the Royal Navy.

Grants are available for anything from help with energy bills, to buying essential white goods like fridges and washing machines, modifications to homes and support getting into employment and setting up businesses.

As it celebrates its centenary, the charity has nearly £3 million available this year to help naval families who have been struggling during the cost-of-living crisis.

With the average age of a seaman being 30, research conducted by the RNBT found in the past year only 5% of all grants have been given to those aged 18-34.

This was despite the research showing that 61% of 18-34 year-olds are worried about going into debt in order to pay essential bills and are also concerned about the impact on their mental health.

Rob Bosshardt (pictured), chief executive of the RNBT, urged those eligible to come forward to help tackle concerns and apply for financial support.

He said: “I urge anyone from the naval family who needs help to get in touch with RNBT. The first call is always difficult, but you will be talking to someone who is keen to help.

“We want to make a crucial difference at this difficult time for naval people and their families.”

A third of people admitted they were embarrassed to find out what support might be available to them, while 52% believed it was too difficult to find out what support is available, the survey found.

The charity provides grants to serving and former ratings of the Royal Navy and other ranks of the Royal Marines, no matter how long their service was.

In the past year, it has pledged over £161,000 to support people to pay essential household bills and rent, with a more recent surge in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis.

Agutter became vice-patron of the RNBT after her aunt moved into a a care home run by the charity, and said: “I have had a longstanding relationship with the military after my dad served in the British Army, so I know first-hand the incredible work service men and women dedicate day in and day out.”

She added: “With the cost of living becoming ever more difficult, this is now more important than ever, and I encourage anyone with a tie to the Royal Navy or Royal Marines to get in touch with the RNBT and utilise the vital support they have to offer.”

The RNBT has given the equivalent of well over £200 million in funding since its inception 100 years ago.

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