DfID Award - Media Statement

Her Majesty The Queen

Grand President
HRH The Duke of York KG

Deputy Grand President
General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux

Hon Recorder
Colonel MI Winarick OBE

Hon Treasurer
Mr JM Archer

Chairman of SCOWP
Brigadier JCL. King MBE

Secretary General
Lieutenant Colonel CF Warren

Controller Finance
Colonel N Dransfield

Controller Welfare
Captain U Gill

Office Manager
Mari Gordon-Roe

Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League
'helping Commonwealth veterans who fought for our freedom'


The Royal Commonwealth Ex Services League (RCEL) is delighted with the news that the Secretary of State for International Development has announced a significant package of support to Commonwealth veterans who served in the British Armed Forces and their widows prior to their countries' independence and are resident overseas.

The RCEL was established in 1921 as a charity to provide support to those who served The British Crown during The Great War. Over the last century RCEL has continued to support veterans who served in the British Armed Forces and their widows from Commonwealth Nations prior to their country's independence. All those supported are resident in their country of origin and living in poverty.

The aim of RCEL is to provide a meal a day to keep people alive and provide some dignity in their twilight years. Most are WWII veterans and widows in their 90s but the RCEL has not been able to meet this objective due to financial constraints. In order to address the shortfall the Commonwealth Veterans Review Committee (CVRC) was established in July 2017 following an initiative by the Chief Executive of Zimbabwe a National Emergency (ZANE), Tom Benyon, and is chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind and General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux.

The major Services Charities are represented on the CVRC by The RCEL, The Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), The Royal British Legion, The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), the ABF The Soldiers' Charity and The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF).
An early conclusion of the CVRC was that the primary aim should be to provide 2 meals a day to eligible beneficiaries and a review of the global situation was completed. The review did not cover Commonwealth veterans and widows residing in the United Kingdom as they may be eligible for UK State and Service Charity support. The review confirmed there are 43 countries where pre-independence veterans who served in the British Armed Forces and their widows reside.

The cost of a meal a day varies from country to country and following a global census and actuarial forecasting an analysis captured the number of veterans and widows in each country and the cost of providing 2 meals a day. The beneficiary number, as at May 2018, is 8,425 and the cost of providing 2 meals a day to each is over £5M and beyond the resources of the RCEL. RCEL allocated welfare distribution this year is in the order of £1.75M and is some way short of the requirement to provide even a meal a day to all.

DFID has recognised that the RCEL has the data, governance, experience and global network of case workers to allocate targeted funding to individuals and has agreed to work in partnership to close the funding gap and ensure that each veteran and widow receive 2 meals a day.

RCEL - Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League - Registered Charity No. 1174874 - Haig House, 199 Borough High Street, London SE1 1AA, United Kingdom - Telephone +44 (0)20 3207 2413

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