Royal British Legion blasted for not paying for funeral of soldier with no family | UK | News

Royal British Legion blasted for not paying for funeral of soldier with no family | UK | News

Veterans have attacked the (RBL) and Soldiers’, Sailors’ & Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA) – an armed forces charity – after both refused to support the funeral of a former serviceman who had no family.

Roger Southern, 57, was found dead in his home on February 2 but was last seen alive on January 17. It is believed he had been dead for around two weeks prior to being found.

He was a member of the Staffordshire Regimental Association (SRA), Stafford branch and served as an armourer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

SRA members got the money together to give Mr Southern a “military style” funeral complete with standard bearers. The ceremony took place on March 1.

The group contacted the Royal British Legion Stafford branch as well as SSAFA for financial assistance but neither provided any support.

Chair of the SRA Stafford branch, David Lovell, told the MailOnline: “We made an immediate appeal. Calls to Stafford Branch of the Royal British Legion. The message we got from the Royal British Legion Stafford branch was that they wouldn’t help because he wasn’t a member.

“We approached the SSAFA on the phone and we were told they couldn’t help so we decided to raise a GoFundMe page because we weren’t sure of the situation with Roger financially and we raised the target within 48 hours of starting the page.”

Mr Lovell noted that “the Royal British Legion is a good organisation” but its issues were at branch level.

Fran Clark, another SRA member, told StokeonTrentLive: “The RBL is the main charity for veterans within the town and we had the door slammed in our face.

“I’m disgusted, completely and utterly disgusted. It’s absolutely dreadful.

“SSAFA and the Royal British Legion have told us they can’t help because Roger wasn’t a member but I know they’ve helped people in the past and I know it can be done. They’ve left a veteran cold on his feet.”

Mr Southern did not have any relatives the police could find and was adopted at birth.

Mr Lovell set up a GoFundMe page to finance the funeral. The £5000 target was hit in 48 hours and in total £5,747 was raised for the send-off.

Mr Southern’s funeral was attended by more than 150 ex-service personnel and Mr Lovell said: “A big thank you to the donations that came in and a prompt response from the public for their support.”

A RBL spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry to hear of Mr Southern’s passing and send our condolences to those who knew him.

“When an individual has passed away and has no known relatives, the local authority has a statutory duty to plan and fund a public funeral where no family member can be found or the funeral cannot be funded.

“RBL branches provide friendship and support to the Armed Forces community, including to those that find themselves socially isolated.

“However, branches are unable to provide direct funding to individuals so the local branch would have been unable to cover any costs towards Mr Southern’s funeral.”

Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO at SSAFA, said: “All at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity were saddened to learn of Mr Southern’s death, and naturally we extend our condolences to his friends and anyone else that knew him. Having no family and no next of kin makes his passing all the more tragic.

“SSAFA provides practical, emotional and financial assistance to serving personnel, veterans and their families in their time of need. However, as SSAFA was aware, there was no individual, no next of kin, no identified person to whom a death certificate for Mr Southern could be issued. »

He added: “Unless a death certificate can be provided, the only organisation authorised to conduct a funeral would be the local health authority. Again, our condolences to the friends of Mr Southern.”

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