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RNA sends all shipmates best wishes in this Delay phase during our confinement to barracks, particularly our senior shipmates in the High Risk category needing social shielding. However we need to put a virtual “arm around the shoulder” of all our shipmates in this time of urgent need. The Research phase is proceeding in parallel with this to identify treatments and how the virus spreads but solutions will be some way off. Social distancing and self-isolation as necessary will continue for all of us with many shipmates self-isolating for an extended period due to risk and others due to suffering symptoms or exposure. This briefing provides information on protecting the body.
Do not forget the key advice to all is Stay at Home to protect yourself, others and the NHS so
· Only go outside for food, health reasons including exercise or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
· If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
· Wash your hands as soon as you get home
· Do not meet together with others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms
Am I a clinically extremely vulnerable (high risk) NHS patient needing social shielding? The NHS recently sent out texts and letters to patients on their shielded patient list for Coronavirus to give them the information and advice they need. You may have been contacted by your GP or hospital clinician. If you have had any contact in this way you are High Risk. If you have a condition as below and not been contacted you can register online or do it on behalf of someone else at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable . You’ll be asked for your NHS number (on any letter the NHS has sent you or on a prescription) but you can still register if you do not have it. More details at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/ . There is separate guidance for all four parts of the UK. The extremely vulnerable groups are:
1. Solid organ transplant recipients
2. People with specific cancers as at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
However remember the initial list of nearly one million patients was produced by combining routine NHS data from multiple sources. Their priority in this extremely complex process was to ensure that NHS got vital information to patients as quickly as possible so some may have been sent in error. It may also take time for any support offered through this new service to arrive so wherever possible you should continue to rely on shipmates, family and wider support to help you meet your needs.
Where can I get current information I can trust? This briefing supplements official guidelines with advice on protection and who can help shipmates survive our isolation. Follow on articles will
look at other issues such as bereavement and financial help during the crisis. The government websites (www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ and https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus) offer detailed guidance and FAQs on all aspects but delivery of the reality of caring is down to us where we live making a difference for our shipmates and others. Alternatively look at NHS 111 online (https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/) for advice and assessment if feeling unwell but only call if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.
Have you joined or created an RNA Virtual Shipmates and Oppos group? I am aware and send BZs to the many shipmates in branch reporting formation of virtual shipmate, oppos or buddy groups to keep in contact by phone, text, letter or e-media. A great chance to make new friends and contacts! Additionally though physical support in terms of food shopping and collecting medicines is vital for self-isolating shipmates. Don’t forget that self isolation sadly will not be new but a continuation of social isolation for many seniors. Let’s use this situation to make a difference! Branch Secretaries should have contact details for all their shipmates that they can act on but all shipmates in Branch can help. The Secretary and Welfare Officer cannot reach everyone. Even if there’s only have a group of three or four that will help.
Can anyone else help? There are many community responder groups with volunteers running mutual aid programmes developed by residents, voluntary organisations and churches in many localities. Details are on your local council websites who are acting as co-ordinators of the community responses. Do not think you have to cope alone, your branch shipmates or local community group should have contacted you. If not, reach out to them and ask for help.
How can I help my shipmates? Practically if you are at low risk and staying healthy then volunteer to help in as above. A friendly shipmate chat over the phone or at 2m is a boost to anyone in isolation. Contact your more senior shipmates (but only if sure you are not infected) and ask if you can help in their self-isolation. Keep a safe distance of 2 metres when the door is answered and find out what is needed. Keep your hands clean on returning items and wipe the bags. Be aware of what else is being offered by community groups locally and share that to shipmates. Even a copy of the newspaper dropped off is keeping shipmates in touch with what’s going on. We can make this happen to everyone’s benefit. Sadly many shipmates are already socially isolated and one “benefit” of Coronavirus could be to make us more aware and supportive of our shipmates so as to make the family motto “Once Navy Always Navy” a reality.
Will the NHS help me? The NHS is now moving to provide essential priority care and so elective or non-urgent support will be much reduced as capacity will be really stretched in the coming months whilst we all try to delay the disease to protect the NHS and save lives. Advice remains not to go to your GP, Pharmacy or Hospital if you have symptoms but to self isolate. You are allowed to leave home for medical appointments but hospitals and GP practices may postpone non-urgent health checks or routine appointments or arrange telephone consultations. You should consult your doctor if there is an essential medical need, only call 111 if you're unable to get help online and for life-threatening emergencies only call 999 for an ambulance.
RNA sends all shipmates best wishes as we continue in lockdown and self-isolation. The last briefing provided advice on protecting the body and this one looks at protecting your mind as lockdown looks set to continue. However do not forget the key advice to all remains as Stay at Home to protect your life, others’ lives and the NHS.
We all need to keep our minds shipshape during this period, particularly those shielding due to being extremely vulnerable. Loneliness already affected many people, including some shipmates, before lockdown and enforced social isolation can only make it worse and increase the numbers feeling lonely whatever their age. That said, senior shipmates over 70 are more at risk. So what can you do if you are at home alone?
Firstly do keep in touch and ask for help if you need it. Many branches are running successful virtual support groups under various names and some are also able to offer direct support (but a distance) with food and medicines. There are also many local community groups operating throughout the country aiming to help who would have already been in contact.
If not in a Branch, you must be a HQ Roll member but help is still available to you. Have you used the RNA Helpline (07542 680082) manned initially from 0900-2100. Although primarily aimed at HQ Roll members any shipmate in need of assistance who cannot raise their Branch or an Oppo can use it. Depending on need, help can be from within Central Office or via the nearest Branch to you. Also why not become a member of the HQ Roll Buddy Buddy service via the same number (07542 680082) to pair up shipmates who might find themselves on their own.
Why not pick up the phone whether mobile or home handset? Texting is much used but actual calling is better. In these days of 24h e-media do not forget the value of a good old-fashioned phone call. A regular call can make a huge difference. In our branch the Branch Sec and I call shipmates regularly and that chat is much appreciated. I’ve learnt a lot about my shipmates in Branch since lockdown. It keeps the RNA family going
Why not try a new method of (virtual) social contact? Texting is popular but can be a bit limiting so why not try talking for free to family, shipmates and friends over Skype, Google Duo, Face Time or WhatsApp? The technology is relatively simple and a great way to see how shipmates, family, friends and grandchildren are doing. A chance to talk face to face about anything you have been doing. Guidance on set up and use can be found online but remember Face Time is limited to Apple iPhone and Mac devices and not available on android. Skype, Google Duo and WhatsApp all work on android devices. Download from https://play.google.com/store/apps or https://www.apple.com/ios/app-store/. All these apps run over the internet with free calling but, to save going over your mobile data allowance, do remember to use these apps on your wifi (you should be at home anyway!).
Why not set up or join a group chat? Whats App is a messaging app that allows you create shared chats with branch shipmates, family or neighbours using your mobile number. Many groups are being set around the country and you can quickly share messages on how you are getting on, how they are or ask for help. I belong to one for the two roads of our estate and it works very well. It’s a quick way of getting someone to deliver a pint of milk or some bread by your front door. It just needs someone to start it off and invite others to join. The app needs to be downloaded from Google store (see link above)
Are you keeping your mind active? Everyone can use the time to keep their mind active. How is up to you but why not try crossword puzzles (free with other challenges in your daily paper), quizzes, Sudoku books or jigsaws? Solving puzzles gives a sense of satisfaction and achievement which refreshes our minds. Reading can take us to other places and, although libraries are closed, why not go back to some favourite books or if you have a Kindle download some freebooks?
Why not start a new project? Each day I suggest dedicating a time to a project that you have wanted to get on with for ages. Hobbies give you something to focus on other than isolation. Make a plan and start today! One of mine has been to start archiving photos of which I now realise I have thousands taken over the years and converting them to digital versions (yes I am that old that I have slides and negatives stored).The choice is up to you and it can be a large or small project, that doesn’t matter but something to work on is what’s important. Getting on with those DIY jobs you always meant to do is a good thing too.
Are you keeping active physically? Self isolation can make you less active which we all need to avoid. Keeping active includes both body and mind but it needs to be realistic to suit you. Have a look at https://weareundefeatable.co.uk/ for ideas. There are lots of activities some of which you do not have to leave the sofa for or there’s marching up and down the room or stairs (remember drill shipmates and how much you loved the GI?). Given the warmer weather the garden is a good place to “exercise” in! Exercise can boost your immune system so get some in!
Are you struggling with or stressed by the current situation? Do not let this worry you as it’s natural. Stress affects us all but can be magnified by social isolation however we are all more resilient than we think. So what can you do? Some suggestions made are:
Put it in perspective – Select one of your worries and think of it shrinking to the size of a peanut. In your mind watch that peanut roll out of the door and go away. Feel better? This can help so why not try it?
Stay calm and stay positive – Anxiety is bad news for us all and can adversely affect our immune systems, very much not wanted at this time! So try slowing your inner thoughts by saying things in your head slowly and use breathing techniques to calm you as this can calm your body and enhance our immune system. Breathe in though your mouth for four seconds then hold for five then out for five. Other alternatives are yoga or meditation techniques.
Get enough sleep – This is so important to maintain physical and mental health. Try calming techniques before bedtime, avoid TV or mobile phone usage and be active in the day. Having a dark bedroom can help too.
Develop healthy habits – No we’re not talking your runs ashore here shipmates but those of eating fresh fruit and vegetables which help by providing vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system. Stay well hydrated with current NHS guidance that we should drink at least six to eight glasses of fluid (1.2 litres) a day which includes water, lower-fat milks, tea and coffee and particularly so if you have a fever. Exercise as above is good but only do it if you feel well.
Try tuning out from the “bad” news – TV coverage and e-media coverage is relentless and often sad and depressing. Whilst you need to know what to do and what’s happening, when at home try turning it off or watching humour or other programmes. Your mind needs a change from all the depressing statistics and the many unknowns that are circulating.
Please distribute this widely and look after yourself and your shipmates.
Best wishes and stay safe, stay well and stay at home,
Deputy National Welfare Adviser
Royal Naval Association
RNA sends all shipmates best wishes as we continue to week 6 of lockdown and social distancing. The last briefing provided advice on protecting the mind. This one looks at protecting your finances as lockdown looks set to continue although under regular review. However do not forget the key advice to all remains as Stay at Home to protect your life, others’ lives and the NHS.
We all need to try to keep our finances shipshape during this period of uncertainty whether on pension, employed or self-employed. This briefing gives some commonsense advice, guidance and supplements expert advice and support available from other sources. It also offers guidance on ensuring your wishes are followed should you die or become unable to make decisions. My thanks to shipmates Rita Lock (RNA National Welfare Adviser) and Michelle Bainbridge (RNA Financial Manager) for inputs to this article. So what can you do to protect your finances?
Why not make a will? This may seem strange advice to start the briefing with but making a will ensures that, should you cross the bar, your money will go to those you wanted it to. Far too many people do not have a will. It is not difficult nor need it cost anything. You can engage a solicitor or will writing service with costs of a simple will between £144 and £240 and a complex will between £150 and £300. Free Will writing is available from a number of charities including the Royal British Legion (https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/ways-to-give/leave-a-gift-in-your-will/free-will-writing) or others in exchange for a donation.
In stationery stores there are low-cost templates available and also online low cost templates (eg http://www.lawpack.co.uk/ at £19.99) or free templates (for simple wills only) at the legal advice site https://www.compactlaw.co.uk/free-legal-documents.html .
Complex finances or wishes should always be checked legally or written with legal advice. Only write your own will if your wishes are very simple eg if you're married and want to leave everything to your spouse, and – should they die before you – you then want to leave everything to your children.
Why not leave a legacy to Royal Naval Association (RNA)? Having mentioned the importance of a will, can I suggest that all shipmates consider remembering the RNA In their will? Why you ask? As a member you will have chosen to be part of RNA and have enjoyed its comradeship having been part of the Navy family. Your legacy will help the RNA to continue to support shipmates old and new.
Direct benefits to members and shipmates include Support to those in need; Advice to next of kin when they need it; Provision of facilities for bringing Members together; Providing relief for those in hardship or distress; Advice to veterans and those still serving or about to return to civilian life and finally to Perpetuate the memory of our Shipmates. All good things. It is simple to arrange and a copy of the RNA leaflet about legacy has appropriate wording for your new will or a codicil to an existing will.
Have you thought of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)? Should you be unfortunately become incapable of making decisions for whatever reason an LPA eases the situation for family and others at a difficult time Do remember though there are two types supporting decisions in the best interests of the person the LPA covers (the donor). A Property and Financial Affairs LPA enables relatives to access your money to pay for your care and make (or help you make) financial decisions. Without such an LPA, loved ones would need to apply through the courts, which can be long and costly. So getting this sorted is important. A Health and Welfare LPA covers decisions
about things such as daily routine, medical care and residence. It also covers spend on items maintaining or improving your quality of life. For medical treatment you need to decide and clearly state you are giving your attorney the right to refuse or consent to treatment.
Remember you are not giving up control over your life by having an LPA as you can choose whether it can be used either before, or only when, you lose mental capacity (ability to make decisions). Your designated attorney should only ever make a choice for you if you're unable to make that specific decision at the time it needs to be made eg if you fall into a coma, your attorney(s) would start looking after your affairs. However if you wake from the coma (hopefully), you should be able to make your own decisions again.
LPAs do not need to be complex but they do need to be clear. Costs to register them are £82 in England and Wales, £79 in Scotland and £151 in Northern Ireland. If you are on certain benefits such as guaranteed income benefit then you can register the Property and Finance or the Health and Welfare LPAs are at a reduced rate or free. All the information is on line for both types of LPA (https://www.gov.uk/lasting-power-attorney-duties/property-financial-affairs or https://www.gov.uk/lasting-power-attorney-duties/health-welfare) or at the Office of Public Guardian (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-public-guardian). You can DIY it by completing the online forms then print off for signatures including a form to request lower or nil charges.
Many solicitors and firms will write your LPAs at varying prices. Executors should be asked before they are named on the form because they have to sign that they agree. The LPA ends when the donor dies and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) must be informed. You can stop being an Attorney at any time.
Are you struggling with your income? Everyone’s cash flow is under pressure as lockdown continues whether you are on a pension, employed, furloughed or on benefits. Managing your money and use of credit wisely is more important than ever.
Have you drawn up an emergency Budget? Everyone’s personal situation is likely to have changed a lot recently with less spending on social activities or travel but with an increased food bill. Even those who do budget need to review their spends, particularly if income has decreased. Why not check again on the ins and outs from your account and make sure you have enough for essential bills such as food, mortgage/rent and utilities. Moneywise.org.uk has a useful budget planner at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-and-your-money.
Monitor your bank balances and prioritise payments. Using online banking or an app makes it easy to check your transactions and debits. Think about changing the dates of direct debits or standing orders to match your money coming in. Decide what’s important and pay what has to be paid first, the essentials such as rent or mortgage to protect your home, council tax and energy bills. Keep track of the others and plan to repay eventually.
Check if you have been given an interest free overdraft. Some banks (Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds) are applying a £500 overdraft automatically whilst Barclays is offering £750 on pre-agreed overdrafts from May onwards. With others it’s worth asking.
Check if your loan provider will offer a 3 month freeze on payments. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on behalf of the government is seeking to introduce this soon for car loans, high cost loans such as rent to own etc and one month for Payday loans
Remember do not just cancel payments on anything! Always talk to your provider and agree it first. Also any deferment or freeze is not free money but will have to be paid back at some point possibly with interest so only do this if you really need to
What if I have to use credit to manage? This is being forced on many but there are some simple things that may help keep it manageable. Try to pay off more than the minimum every month on cards as it will reduce your debt more quickly and use a direct debt to cover at least the minimum so you do not forget. Pay the most expensive credit card off first if you can and do not forget to check your APR as many cards are offered with a low initial rate that increases after a year or so. Consider switching your credit card to a 0% APR deal if you can find a deal as it will help with managing debt but do look out for the amount of transfer fee charged. These vary a lot between providers. Think about increasing or decreasing your credit limit to cope in the short term: always be sure though that an increase is necessary and whether you can afford to pay back the higher interest and debt. Ask your credit card provider if they will give you a 3 month freeze on your debt.
Have you an instant access savings account? Although interest rates are low if you can build up some cash savings it means it can help in the event of unexpected spends so you can avoid borrowing just to cover everyday expenses. It’s a good habit to have anyway for the future.
I can’t pay everything, what else can I do? The first is to take a breath and realise you are not alone, there is help and support that you are entitled to everyone’s circumstances will be different. Having gone through the above then other questions are below but do ask for help if you need it.
Am I eligible for financial support? Check out and make sure you get everything you’re entitled to. The government guide https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you gives comprehensive details of what support you might be able to claim now if you’re employed or self-employed. There is a Freephone 0800 138 1677 and a webchat facility.
Is Universal Credit Scheme (UCS) available to me? If you are on low income or out of work or you or partner are under State pension age or have less than £16K savings between you then you may be entitled. The minimum income floor for UCS has been removed and the need to visit a job centre relaxed. See Department of Work and Pensions website https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/ .
You can check your eligibility anonymously and for free by using an online benefits calculator such as at https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Beginner-s-Guide-to-Benefits/Checking-benefit-entitlement or https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements/benefits-calculator/ . Advances on UCS if approved are possible as well.
How do I manage debts I can’t pay due to Covid 19? If you are struggling then urgently speak to your creditors to make them aware. They do want to help and being upfront can help to come to a short term arrangement. If meeting the rent is an issue, see if your landlord will accept a reduction or deferral, better a good tenant than an empty property. UCS may be able to help with housing costs. Also do not forget the government has brought in emergency legislation so that no one can be forced out of their home whilst landlords are being offered 3 month mortgage holidays with the expectation that at the end of the three months, a reasonable payment plan will be agreed between the two parties. A similar 3 month mortgage repayment holiday is being offered to home owners but you have to write and ask your provider. Do remember it is only deferment not a write-off of the debt and interest will be charged. Most likely this will be added to future repayments.
Who can advise me? It can feel like you’re going under do not forget others such as family and shipmates who may have a clearer view and be able to offer help. Help and a professional perspective can be obtained from charities such as listed in the previous article on bereavement. The Seafarers' Advice & Information Line (SAIL) at http://sailine.org.uk/ is recommended as the “Citizens Advice” service just for seafarers and their families. Contact them for free advice on benefits, debt, housing etc by Freephone 0800 160 1842 (1000-1600) or email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online enquiry form. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau also provides free online and in person help on the same problems. See https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ or call local call rate 03444 111 444. Turn2Us (as above) provides similar online help and advice.
What else do I need to be careful about now? Do not get scammed and lose money! Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in an increase in the number of financial scams via phone or online. These include plausible fraudsters claiming to be offering government backed grants and other kinds of financial support or queries on your bank account or TV license payments. Banks will never call you and ask for passwords. Be very wary and just apply commonsense. If unsure, just put the phone down and ask others. Make sure any calls and emails you’re getting are from legitimate sources and do not give out any personal information without checking.
I close with expressing strong support for the RNA NHS & Ventilators fund circulated to all shipmates by shipmate Andy Christie. Well worth donating to by individuals, Branches and Areas.
Please distribute this widely and look after your shipmates and oppos by phone. text, e-media or letter.
Best wishes and stay safe, stay well and stay at home.
Two useful sources of support and advice are Cruse offering support for adults (see https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coronavirus-dealing-bereavement-and-grief ) and Winstons Wish (see https://www.winstonswish.org/coronavirus/ for children.and young people.
Cruse for adults primarily supports through its excellent website and a National Freephone Helpline of 0808 808 1677 open Monday-Friday 0930-1700 (excluding bank holidays) with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings until 2000. In normal times, it has local services detailed on the website but these are curtailed at the moment.
Winston's Wish for children and young people operates through
1) a National Freephone Helpline 08088 020 021 (open 0900 – 1700, Monday – Friday). This is being operated remotely so accessed currently by leaving a message on their voicemail with your first name and a contact number (with the caller’s area code; a Helpline Practitioner calls back from a withheld number as soon as possible.
2) ASK email support via email@example.com
3) Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258 (available 24/7).
4) an Online Chat service available on the website 1200 - 1600pm, (Wednesdays and Fridays).
5) Facebook groups (Adults Bereaved as Children and Supporting Bereaved Children and Young People) offering support with membership opening up the opportunity to connect digitally and share experiences.
Remember bereaved shipmates may also have to deal with increased trauma and are likely cut off from some of their usual support network through family, Branch and other shipmates. Those who are already struggling with bereavement, or whose relatives or friends die through other causes will also be affected.
Coping with grief and trauma is hard at this time and support is always welcome. Being bereaved can be an extremely lonely time. Talking with family, friends and shipmates can be one of the most helpful ways to cope after someone close dies. We can all support our shipmates by phone, text or e-mail! It is important to avoid isolation but currently increasing numbers of people have to self-isolate and we all have to avoid physical contact with others under current advice.
CORONAVIRUS (COVID 19) – BEREAVEMENT UPDATE
Today (Thursday) the reality of what a wicked, random and vicious thing Covid 19 is came home to me as I attended the funeral of a friend and shipmate of long standing. As I write, I am trying to reflect and focus on the positive things and good times we shared over many years, including a few wets. Sadly he died alone in hospital and very few of us were able to say farewell today.
I write to distract myself but also to remind shipmates who have suffered or may suffer bereavement in their families of the help out there.
How do I know what to do when some one dies? Many will have prepared for this but many more, sadly, will not have. If you or someone you support has become bereaved it can be a confusing time following their crossing the bar and difficult to know what you need to do first, especially when you experience it for the first time. There can be some complex procedures to follow, depending on whether the person died in hospital, at home or a public place. Where the person has died will also affect the type of documentation that you are given. However there are good summaries of all aspects at https://www.bereavementadvice.org/topics/what-to-do-when-someone-dies/ or call 0800 634 9494 (Mon-Fri 0900 -1700)
Remember you are not alone! As I said in my previous note on bereavement, help and support is out there. Lockdown has restricted the usual in person support from family, friends, Branch Welfare Officer and other shipmates although they will be there for you. Just ask and try talking about your feelings.
Grief is natural. When someone close dies, family and shipmates close to them can feel a spectrum of emotions that change over time. Every person’s journey through grief will be different. There is no right or wrong way to grieve nor is there a timetable for how long your grief will last or how you should feel after a particular time. It is up to you and no-one’s perceptions.
Are there any quick fixes? The answer is no, it will take time but everyone finds what helps them adjust to bereavement. However there are 6 ways to feel happier (see NHS suggestions at (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/feel-better-and-happy/, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope.
1. Manage your stress levels by finding ways to reduce it and getting regular exercise.
2. Enjoy yourself by doing things that you enjoy and help your emotional wellbeing by simple activities such as having a soak in the bath. Other options such as meeting up with friends for coffee can’t happen due to social distancing and isolation. Try to avoid things that seem enjoyable at the time but make you feel worse afterwards, such as drinking too much alcohol or eating junk food.
3. Boost your Self-esteem by treating yourself as you would treat a valued shipmate, in a positive but honest way. Tell yourself positive things.
4. Try for a healthy lifestyle by Limiting your alcohol intake, Choosing a well-balanced diet, Doing some exercise and Getting enough sleep
5. Talk and share - We are social beings and communication is important to us all. Talking things through helps you to release tension, rather than keeping it inside. It will help strengthen your relationships and connect with people.
6. Build your resilience - Resilience helps us to cope with life's ups and downs and making something worthwhile out of painful times helps your resilience grow. Why not make something creative out of bad experiences to ease the pain?
Who can help me cope? I previously mentioned Cruse for adults (see https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coronavirus-dealing-bereavement-and-grief with Free Helpline of 0808 808 1677) and Winstons Wish (see https://www.winstonswish.org/coronavirus/ with Freephone Helpline 08088 020 021 and other e-support) for children and young people. The Sue Ryder site (https://www.sueryder.org/support-if-you-have-been-bereaved? also provides much useful information in question format.
What about the Navy family? The Navy and seafaring family is there for you as well in times of bereavement through a number of charitable organisations starting with the RNA itself as a signposter. Although Central Office staff are not trained bereavement councilors in their own right they can always talk and point you in the right direction for more targeted support – if you need assistance call the RNA Helpline on 07542 680082. Those mentioned below do not include some such as The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) that you may be aware of as they fund the other naval charities to do their work. There are a number with specific target groups they support. The list below covers a number in no order of priority. Please note that due to Covid 19, many will be operating remotely and services may be restricted or even closed, do ring or check the website.
The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (RNBT) provides support and financial assistance to Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families in times of need. See http://www.rnbt.org.uk/ with contact number 02392 690112. However RNBT is closed at moment but if you are serving you should consider contacting your local RN or RM Welfare first or contact your local branch of SSAFA or TRBL who will arrange for a caseworker to visit you to complete an application form
The Royal Navy & Royal Marines Widows’ Association (RNRMWA) supports widows and widowers and recognised partners of service personnel. Find out more at http://www.rnrmwidows.org/ or telephone 023 9265 4374
The Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) Benevolent Trust (www.wrnsbt.org.uk or call 023 9265 5301) provides relief in cases of necessity or distress amongst its members and their dependants. Members are those who served in the WRNS and transferred to the Royal Navy before 1 November 1993, or anyone who has served in the WRNS since 3 September 1939. It is co-located with RNBT in Portsmouth.
The Naval Children’s Charity at https://www.navalchildrenscharity.org.uk/need-our-help/ or call 023 9263 9534 provides assistance for the children of those serving in or veterans of the Royal Navy or Royal Marines. The Fund is co-located with RNBT in Portsmouth.
The Sailors Childrens Society (www.sailorschildren.org.uk or call 01482 342331) is a maritime charity supporting families with a seafaring connection and receiving a means tested benefit with a child under the age of 18. This includes Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet and includes families who may be divorced, deceased or disabled.
Tri-service veteran and family support is available from:
Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association (SSAFA) [www.ssafa.org.uk or call 0800 731 4880] aims to relieve need, suffering and distress amongst the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in order to support their independence and dignity. SSAFA often acts as the casework organisation for the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust.
The Royal British Legion (TRBL) was founded by veterans after the First World War and still helps today’s Service men and women, veterans, and their families in almost every aspect of daily life. TRBL provides advice and information on housing and residential care and often acts as the casework organisation for the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (see www.britishlegion.org.uk or call 0808 802 8080)
The Seafarers Advice and Information Line (SAIL) is an advice service that’s completely free for seafarers and their families. See http://sailine.org.uk/about-sail/our-funders or call Freephone 0800 160 1842.
Veterans UK (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk or call Freephone 0808 1914 218) is part of the MoD and provides free support for veterans and their families, including a helpline, Veterans Welfare Service and injury/bereavement compensation scheme payments
The War Widows Association (WWA) at www.warwidowsassociation.org.uk or call local rate 0845 2412 189 works to improve the conditions of War Widows and their dependants in Great Britain. Its work includes those who have suffered bereavement from the last World War and from more recent conflicts such as Korea, the Falklands, the Gulf and Afghanistan but in addition those who have suffered the loss of their husband in peacetime, when his death was attributable to his service life.
The Forces Children’s Trust (FCT) at www.forceschildrenstrust.org (website being revised) is a charity devoted to helping dependent children that have lost a parent whilst serving with the Armed Forces. The FCT, by reason of its aims and size, has the flexibility and ability to make decisions and offer help as needed, with minimum fuss and consequent time-loss. It can help both an individual and a group of children in similar circumstances.
Welfare Officer or Case Worker looking for a maritime charity? Try the Seafarer Support online search engine www.seafarersupport.org/self-help/ which helps you or the person you represent find the maritime charity you need. Alternatively call Freephone Helpline (0800 121 4765)
The other financial help there available eg Bereavement Support Grant will be covered in a further update together with changes to access at end of life and celebration of lives well lived.
It may be of some comfort to know that there has already been discussion regarding a memorial service in the future for those who crossed the bar during the crisis. In many cases, it has sadly not been possible to attend those funerals and commemorate our departed shipmates with the marks of respect we would normally wish to observe; this gives us the opportunity to redress that.
Please distribute this widely, keep following government public health guidelines and look after your shipmates and oppos by phone. text, e-media or letter.
Finally, the Chaplain of the Fleet has been in touch with the General Secretary to say that while serving padres don’t normally conduct veterans funerals, he is aware of the difficulties in these unprecedented times and is prepared to assist where families of bereaved are having difficulty locally in finding someone suitable to conduct funerals. Again, if you need assistance call the RNA Helpline on 07542 680082.
Stay home and stay well all shipmates
This update looks at an offer from the Royals worth following up and updates on access at end of life in hospital, care homes and funeral attendance. Do not forget your Area or Branch Welfare Officers or the RNA Helpline (07542 680082) are there as points of contact and help outside the family. They may not be trained counsellors but they are shipmates and can signpost you to the right advice for you.
Paying musical last respects at funerals - Music has always been a large part of a matelot’s life and should be at the funeral with paying of respect by Last Post and Reveille. For many it is not been possible in the past to find a bugler or indeed currently to have present but the Royals have risen to the challenge! The Royal Marines (RM) Band has made a video production of Last Post and Reveille that can be used with permission at veterans’ funerals during the COVID-19 lockdown. Copies of the video file can be requested by email from Captain Sam Hairsine RM, SO3 RM Band at Samuel.Hairsine464@mod.gov.uk. The request can come directly from Naval Service Charities, Branches of Associations, a family member or Funeral Directors and is available to be used at a funeral service of any veteran from the Naval Service that dies during lockdown
On your behalf, RM Band has been thanked for their perception of need and speed in putting this together so that we can all do the right thing for our shipmates and the veteran community during this pandemic crisis and guarantee consistency and quality of service. What more can you ask from The Royal Marines Band which remains the best Military Band Service in the world.
What has changed on access to those in hospital and care homes? The most painful thing for those who have suffered bereavement during the pandemic crisis has been the inability of family to visit shipmates in hospital and sometimes seeing them dying alone. On a quick, limited survey of hospital websites and care homes there are no consistent “rules” and each hospital or care home has its own guidance or interpretation. Many hospitals for example are now letting one member of family attend at end of life so shipmates do not cross the bar alone. However many units are saying that for an end-of-life patient they balance compassion with safe care with the number of visitors permitted is at the ward or care home manager’s discretion but that restrictions may be relaxed in exceptional circumstances only. So, if sadly, you have a shipmate at end of life I suggest you check with your local hospitals’s or care home website and/or ring the ward or care home manager.
What about attendance at funerals? Attendance at funerals remains restricted in terms of numbers allowed and other normal practices such as parading a standard as a mark of respect. Again a quick, limited survey online suggests this still varies widely across the country so always ask your Funeral Director who should be aware of the local position or check the website of your local Crematorium. At least crematoria re-opened to the public from 21st April whilst the Church of England has kept closed all of their churches as have many other religious organisations enforced similar policies thus funerals may now only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. However remember funerals in crematoria currently generally remain restricted to the smallest possible number of attendees consistent with social distancing of 2m to help reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Numbers will vary in each crematorium as determined by the size and circumstance of the venue. However do look into sharing the funeral online with the most common way being by web casting or live streaming. Many funeral directors now offer this service which allows many people to attend a funeral without putting anyone at risk. Again check with your funeral director and/or the crematorium. All it needs is some co-ordination and possibly cost with an email invite sent out with link-in details.
What about commemorations and memorial services of lives well lived? These sadly remain restricted. The social distancing restrictions have sadly meant that we have not been able to give shipmates the usual marks of respect at funerals by attendance at their funeral or afterwards. Central Office advises that the honorary RNA chaplain and the Chaplain of the Fleet, The Venerable Martyn Gough, has offered to conduct a memorial service to all our shipmates who crossed the bar during the crisis. The likely “national” venue will be the National Memorial Arboretum with some regional options under consideration. Central Office will update later on this.
Locally can I suggest that all Branch Secretaries they inform their Area Secretary and/or Welfare Officer of shipmates who have crossed the bar during this period? That information can be collated and shared to Central Office and also be used for any future local Branch or Area memorial service. As above, technology can help and you can have a virtual local memorial gathering now via Facebook, WhatsApp or conference apps such as Zoom available to download on laptop or mobile phone.
Please distribute this widely, keep following government public health guidelines and look after your shipmates and oppos by phone. text, e-media or letter.
Stay safe, stay well and stay at home,
RNA sends all shipmates best wishes as we enter week 6 of lockdown and self-isolation. Briefing 2 provided advice on protecting your mind. This continued isolation brings fresh pressure on us all and on our mental health which underpins our physical well being.
What can you do to help yourself? Briefing 2 gave a number of sources of support and general advice. Just as we exercise for good bodily health so we all need to be mentally fit as part of good mental health. This week saw the launch of a new mental health self help tool, HeadFIT, specifically aimed at all parts of the Defence family, whether you are a veteran shipmate, new recruit, long-serving personnel, civilian staff, or serving in uniform. All the techniques are designed so they can be easily be made part of your everyday life whether at work or at home.
What is HeadFIT? HeadFIT (https://headfit.org/) is designed specifically for the Defence community providing 24/7 access to a wide range of online self-help tools that can help you proactively to manage the stresses of everyday life, enhance your drive, confidence and mood.
Who supports it? It has been developed by The Royal Foundation's Heads Together campaign, the Ministry of Defence and Kings College London with clinical advice from Dr Vanessa Moulton. Its operation is supported by Heads Together (https://www.headstogether.org.uk/) and MoD.
What does it provide? It provides the tools to get to where you want to be mentally and to be the best that you can be. The site asks first what are your mental health goals? Are they to De-stress from life’s pressure or Improve Drive to be motivated and get things done or Increase Confidence by belief in yourself and abilities or Improve Mood and your ability to cope with life’s ups and downs. Choose the goal and then choose the tool under that goal that works for you by simple clicks.
For every HeadFIT tool the key things to do are:
STOP - Get off autopilot and refocus on what you are feeling and thinking.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF – Ask yourself if your thoughts and feelings are really helping you?
CHANGE - Choose a different way of thinking and behaving so you can achieve your chosen goal(s) and be the best that you can be
Why should I use it over other sources of help or self-help? Simply put HeadFIT is aimed and developed for the defence family in its widest sense, whether served or serving or civilian, to provide the tools they need to be mentally fit in their lives whatever the challenges. It’s at least worth a look as it’s been produced specially for you! Other sources such of help such as shipmates, charities and online sources such as NHS (https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/) are still open for you to use and good, it is doing something about your mental health that’s important.
We all need to keep our minds shipshape throughout life and particularly during this crisis. Stay well shipmates and access the help/tools out there for you when needed and not suffer in silence.
Best wishes and stay safe, stay well and stay at home,
Deputy National Welfare Adviser
Royal Naval Association
You may download the original letters on the Left