Royal British Legion: No decision yet over veterans’ centre

Veterans who protested in support of Bennet House, Portrush on Saturdy December 28.
Veterans who protested in support of Bennet House, Portrush on Saturdy December 28.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) says no decision has yet been taken about the proposed closure of a veterans respite centre in Portrush.

Veterans held a protest outside the The Poppy Break Centre, Bennet House, on Saturday, in favour of retaining it.

But a RBL spokesman has now responded that no decisions have been taken. “The situation is unchanged since November,” he told the News Letter.

“No decision has yet been taken and the consultation is still continuing. We cannot ‘reverse’ a decision that has not yet been taken.”

He said that since 2016 the charity has seen a 20% increase in people needing basic support with housing, financial issues, mental health and well-being and mobility.

As a result, it is proposing to close four such centres, three of them in England, and divert more resources to personalised support, using external specialist and localised organisations, and “reinvigorating the charity’s care work with older veterans”.

External consultants are conducting 40 interviews across NI and England, of staff or employee representatives and veterans, in order to form a strategy, he added.

But Richard Scott, Chairman of Chair of Military and Police Support of West Tyrone, said the “decision to close” the centre is not hitting home with the RBL trustees.

“I say decision advisedly because I do not believe them that it is simply a proposal, they have taken too many steps to prove that,” he added.