Charity focus: BLESMA

April 6, 2018

On 4th April my colleague, Charlotte Jose, and I were raising money for BLESMA at Canary Wharf Station.  We joined a team of 5 other enthusiastic BLESMA staff members and volunteers for two busy hours.

We have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of busy commuters, either by exchanging a few words or only by exchanging smiles.  I received a few words of encouragement and appreciation from a few commuters, which were received with a big smile.

Some people asked me what BLESMA supports before making their donations.

  • BLESMA was formed during the 1920s by limbless ex-service men who gathered together in Glasgow to discuss their problems and support each other.  Its initial name was LESMA (Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association).
  • In 1932 BLESMA gained national charitable status becoming the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association.  BLESMA opened a number of care homes since its formation that care for hundreds of injured veterans and widows, providing them with housing and support in specialist adapted accommodation.
  • The charity has been very active in representing its members and campaigning on their behalf.  Thanks to this campaigning, the NHS started to routinely provide microprocessor knees for NHS patients who meet the criteria in 2016.
  • Many limbless veterans have been supported by BLESMA through sport.  The charity’s first national sports day was organised in 1961.  Many BLESMA members took part in the Paralympics Games in the 90s and some also got involved in activities like walking the Geographic North Pole or took part in race and swimming challenges.  46 of its members participated in the 2014 Invictus Games in London.

More details about the charity can be found on their website: https://blesma.org/about-us

Through its good work, BLESMA has managed to redefine the way disability is perceived and makes a difference in the life of its members, by supporting them to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

Charlotte and I also had the pleasure to meet one of BLESMA’s members, who has been supported by the charity following an accident he had suffered whilst serving as a Private in the Corps of Royal Engineers, where he specialised in bomb disposals.  He was taking part in the bucket collection that morning and has been volunteering with BLESMA for over 9 years.  He spoke very passionately about his service in the Army and also about his involvement with the charity following his accident.

Recovering from serious injury cannot be easy.  It takes time, patience and support.  Rehabilitation, both psychiatric and physical, can be very costly.  Our veterans are often not given enough support and many have to turn to charities in order to get the support that they need.

We managed to raise some much needed money and also raise awareness about the great work BLESMA does.  I feel very proud to have had the chance to take part in this bucket collection and was inspired by the people I met.

Cristiana Mitrofan is a paralegal in the Military Claims team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or you are concerned about treatment received, contact Cristiana free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4867 or at CristianaMitrofan@boltburdonkemp.co.uk.  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Military Claims team will contact you.  Find out more about the Military Claims team.

Posted by: Cristiana Mitrofan

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