Former Minister of State for the Armed Forces and current MP for Rayleigh and Wickford attended the weekly session
On Thursday 30th November, the Southend Veterans’ Club welcomed Mark Francois, Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford.
The visit was part of Mark’s ongoing commitment and personal interest in the military community, which he is closely affiliated with.
As a former infantry officer in the Territorial Army, including with the local Royal Anglian Regiment, Mark has first hand experience of military life. He has also held a number of senior positions in government, related to the military.
This includes Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Min DPWV) in the Ministry of Defence (2012). In this role Mark liaised with service charities and was also instrumental in the provision of the latest generation of prosthetics for service personnel injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Following this, Mark was promoted to the role of Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Min AF) and given responsibility for operations, operational policy, operational legal matters and training.
Recently, Mark was also asked by Prime Minister Theresa May to carry out a study regarding the future recruitment of regulars and reserves into the Armed Forces.
The SSAFA Southend Veterans’ Club is a social group that was set up in January 2016, to provide local veterans with a place to go for companionship and social interaction. The group was started by Michele Everett, Divisional Secretary of Southend and Rochford SSAFA and it runs every Thursday afternoon from 12pm – 4.30pm.
Funded purely by donations, the SSAFA Veterans’ Club currently has 25 members and takes place every week at the Royal Naval Association in Southend-On-Sea. The club is open to veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces, male and female, and the current age range of the group is between 57 and 93 years old. Widows and widowers of veterans are also welcome to attend the groups.
An average day at the club involves the veterans enjoying a two course lunch, before taking part in activities including: playing cards, darts, pool or even the guitar which usually ends in a group sing-along with volunteers. The team hope that Mark’s visit will help to raise awareness of the fantastic work the volunteers carry out to support the veteran community in Southend.
Founder Michele Everett comments:“We are pleased that Mark Francois has taken the time to join some of our local veterans and see first-hand what SSAFA Southend Veterans’ Club offers veterans on a weekly basis. As a respected MP with a huge amount of insight and experience of the Armed Forces community, it was our pleasure to welcome him this Thursday.
Our group provides a regular opportunity for local veterans to interact with one another, and we can offer them something to look forward to every week. We also work with local social workers to help lonely, vulnerable veterans and to ensure that they get the support that they need.”
Notes to editors
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Every year our staff and team of volunteers help more than 67,000 people, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts.
About SSAFA Southend & Rochford Branch
SSAFA’s Weymouth & Portland division is completely volunteer run and is dedicated to supporting the Armed Forces, veterans and their families across the region.
- Address – SSAFA Southend & Rochford, Royal Naval Association, 73-79 East Street, Southend-On-Sea, SS2 6QL
- Telephone – 01702 463 113
- For more information on the Southend Veterans Club visit: https://www.ssafa.org.uk/ssafa-southend-veterans’-club