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The armed forces charity has been forced to cancel regional Poppy Day events across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fund-raising events have been scrapped in Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester and smaller events in several other towns and cities have also been called off. The Royal British Legion said London’s Poppy Day event was still being planned at this stage with its own dedicated staff focusing on the challenges presented by COVID-19.
The Legion’s work is more vital than ever as we support our community through additional hardships
The charity’s Director of Fundraising Claire Rowcliffe said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an overwhelming impact on people’s livelihoods and way of life, leaving some in the armed forces community in dire need of urgent help and support.
“The Legion’s work is more vital than ever as we support our community through additional hardships from those struggling with social isolation, financial difficulties and unemployment, to those who have lost loved ones or are facing the threat of homelessness. Every poppy counts.”
This year’s Poppy Appeal kicks off on Thursday and runs until Wednesday November 11.
But plans to send armed forces personnel onto the streets to collect money this year have had to be abandoned because of coronavirus restrictions.
A spokeswoman said: “This decision has been taken to safeguard our staff, volunteers and members of the public in the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 poses for this year’s Poppy Appeal.
“Whilst disappointing for all concerned, we would like to stress that this decision has not been taken lightly and hopes that anyone affected understands why this decision has been made at this time.
“We are committed to delivering these events in 2021, subject to further COVID-19 restrictions.
“London Poppy Day planning is currently continuing as it has its own dedicated staff resource who is able to solely focus on the challenges that COVID–19 presents.
“We are currently hopeful that appropriate measures can be implemented so that London Poppy Day can still take place, although subject to restrictions.”
Birmingham’s community fundraiser for the Royal British Legion Yanto Evans said the charity was “desperate” for volunteers to come forward to help to distribute collecting tins.
The ex-Para said: “We are still doing an appeal, but we couldn’t hold the City Poppy Day because of the situation that we are in.
“London’s City Poppy Day is going ahead on a slightly smaller scale, but we felt that we couldn’t have 400 people coming into Birmingham.
“We are still going to be delivering poppies to schools and to shops where they will be available.
“The poppies be in stores that have a big footfall – with a physical barrier – but there will be QR codes there, too, to help people to donate that way.
“We are doing things like a virtual Poppy Runs which thousands have signed up so far.
“While you lose in one way, we are trying to gain in another.”
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Royal British Legion local organisers are facing similar issues the lenth and breadth of the country with many older volunteers who usually man the stalls still shielding because of the pandemic.
The spokeswoman said: “This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may see less of our devoted volunteer Poppy Appeal collectors in your local communities, but you can help family, friends, and neighbours to get hold of their poppy and contribute to the appeal.”
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