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Independent to support veterans charities

The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, i, London Live and London Evening Standard yesterday launched their Homeless Veterans Christmas campaign in association with ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Veterans Aid.

Following on from the success of last year’s campaign, which raised £500,000 for Space for Giants, an organisation fighting to save the African elephant from extinction, ESI media have pledged their support to a cause closer to home. Both The Soldiers’ Charity and Veterans Aid work to support veterans who are struggling and at risk of falling into homelessness, as well as reaching out to those who were homeless but are now re-building their lives.

The fundraising efforts will include an online auction, powered by Ebay, which will take place through December and into January. Readers will be able to bid for a variety of exclusive lots, including lunch with an editor, a personalised front page, and a game of chess against The Independent’s Grandmaster John Speelman.

Aside from this, readers can also be in with a chance to bid for a tour with De Beers of the world’s richest diamond mine in Botswana, a private tour of Edinburgh Castle with lunch served in the officers’ mess, and a visit to the iconic manufacturing home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood. The renowned Connor Brothers, and ex-serviceman turned artist Michael Crossan, have also donated superb artwork to the cause.

Evgeny Lebedev, Chairman of Independent Print Ltd and Evening Standard Ltd said: “I believe campaigns are the heart of journalism: they unite people behind vital causes. Servicemen and women risk their lives doing things most of us simply aren't brave enough to do. On the front line there is an old rule, about not leaving anyone behind. About picking up the fallen. If these brave men and women sometimes need us - whom they have fought to protect - to stoop to pick them up and help them on their way, it should be both an obligation and a humble honour to do so.”

Dr Hugh Milroy PhD, CEO of Veterans Aid said: “We are delighted to be a beneficiary of the Evening Standard and Independent Group’s campaign, not just because it will help fund our work of providing immediate support to veterans in crisis, but because it will raise awareness of the many practical ways in which we can help. Ex-servicemen and women become homeless for the same reasons as everyone else, but they have unique access to help. Veterans Aid is the A&E of the veterans world and if members of the military community seek our help before things get desperate we can prevent homelessness happening."

Major General (Ret’d) Martin Rutledge, Chief Executive ABF The Soldiers’ Charity said: “Media attention is often drawn away from our soldiers once military operations are over. With the Evening Standard and Independent Group’s campaign, we will see the hidden issues that our veterans face when returning to civilian life brought to the fore. As a Charity, access to adequate and appropriate housing is one of our key priorities, so the support that this campaign will provide will greatly assist us in addressing it.”