ONE of the UK’s most symbolic fundraising initiatives, the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and the Scottish Poppy Appeal is facing an unprecedented crisis as thousands of volunteers are forced to stay at home amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
The annual appeals mark a period of remembrance for those who lost their lives during conflict. It is both the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland’s biggest and most significant fundraising initiative.
In 2019 over 40 million poppies were distributed by 40,000 volunteers in every community across the UK. This raised over £50 million to help support serving and ex-serving members of the armed forces community and their families.
Current restrictions and guidance on the movement of people will considerably limit footfall in high-traffic areas, where poppy tins are usually displayed. While it usually takes tens of thousands of volunteers to distribute poppies through busy streets, train stations and ‘Poppy Up Shops,’ the coronavirus pandemic is expected to have a potentially devastating impact on this year’s initiative.
In an attempt to offset challenges, the appeals are encouraging people to go online to show their support. Amongst a number of new digital innovations introduced for the 2020 appeal is a virtual field of remembrance, where members of the public can plant and sow a virtual poppy, leave a message of support and offer a donation.
The public is also being encouraged to “Donate, Download and Display” a poppy in the window of their homes. Poppyscotland has created a downloadable poppy to print and display, and a blank poppy which children can be coloured in.
Donations raised during the appeals are used to provide vial life-changing support to the Armed Forces community living throughout Scotland, including specialist advice, employment support, home adaptations and funding packages.
Gordon Michie, Poppyscotland’s Head of Fundraising, said:
“There is no other way to put it – we are in a state of emergency.
“This weekend should have seen thousands of volunteers out distributing poppies and encouraging donations for what is normally Scotland’s largest annual street collection. Unfortunately, this year we are not going to see anything like the typical level of street donations.
“This is one of the most crucial and challenging years in the long history of the Poppy Appeal. The world may have stopped, but our support for those most vulnerable in our community cannot.
“The public has always been behind us, and incredibly generous with their support. We are asking that this year, they do not forget us and continue to donate through online channels.
“We need your support now, more than we ever have – every poppy counts.”
To donate to the Scottish Poppy Appeal, please visit https:// poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/poppy-appeal
To donate to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, please visit https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/ways-to-give/donate
Poppyscotland is a member of The Royal British Legion group of charities.