Blesma, the only charity that supports limbless veterans in the UK throughout the duration of their lives, has unveiled a new free app, Blesma Connects, that aims to encourage its members to communicate and engage with each other…
At a time when loneliness and isolation impacts one in four ex-Armed Forces personnel*, Blesma Connects will provide ongoing member-to-member connectivity via its Chat function exclusive to the app along with personalised information and content tailored to each Member’s interests and needs.
Blesma Connects is the first military charity app built exclusively for its members only and will allow them to discover new routes to secure medical information, grants, welfare counselling, national Blesma events and local meetings.
To support the launch, the charity will be running a series of digital inclusion sessions to help upskill its Members who have no regular independent access to the internet. These informal sessions will be run by Blesma’s Outreach Officers and Digital Ambassadors across the country over a cup of coffee.
Blesma, which currently provides life long support to 3,000 members, has been at the forefront of connecting limbless and injured veterans with one another since WWI, from the early days of championing their medical treatment and rights, to facilitating a series of trips, challenges and meet-ups to enable its members to help and support each other.
The decision to launch Blesma Connects comes following a six-month research and 18 month development programme during which Members, Blesma’s staff and Support Officers stated they would value more frequent updates from the charity along with more opportunities to connect with other Members.
Ian Waller, Operations Director and Interim Chief Executive, comments: “No one really understands a military person quite like a fellow comrade, so creating connections and comradeship are two important objectives for us at Blesma to combat loneliness and social isolation.
“After speaking with a variety of our members from 19-year-old veterans to 95-year-old widows during the last 18 months, we know our Members need a tool that will enable them to build friendships with those who have shared similar experiences within their local communities. I’m looking forward to hearing how our Members will respond to the new Blesma Connects app and supporting sessions.”
The free app was developed with Blesma by award-winning creative agency, Way To Blue and is now available to members to download from the app store. It is also compatible with a Member’s accessibility settings on their device, including screen readers, font sizes and dexterity controls.
* Findings from Royal British Legion: Loneliness and Social Isolation in the Armed Forces Community