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Partner Spotlight: Royal British Legion

Updated: Jan 31


Digital applications through the Lightning Reach portal have transformed Royal British Legion's (RBL) ability to provide support to individuals quicker and more efficiently, speeding up their processes and reaching a broader range of beneficiaries amidst the cost of living crisis.


Increasing application numbers via the Lightning Reach portal


RBL created their cost of living grants to help veterans, armed forces personnel and their families pay for everyday essential costs such as energy bills, food costs and clothing in times of financial hardship. The grant was launched on the Lightning Reach portal, offering an option for service users to apply digitally for the first time.


Since the launch in October 2022, RBL has seen a dramatic increase in demand, with c.9,000 applications received and administered over £5m in grants using the Lightning Reach portal. This has made a significant difference to armed forces personnel struggling with the rising costs of living.

The impact in time saving and improving efficiencies for their grants team has been significant, with the average turnaround time from receiving a grant application to making a decision and awarding a grant transformed from taking 4 weeks to now just days. Edd Robinson, Grants Manager at RBL, reflects:


“What we normally do takes around 4 weeks; now we can pick up an email and get a grant decision within 2-3 days. We are getting through (applications) very quickly.”


This was all done with a team a small fraction of the size they use for similar grant volumes across their other schemes. Steve Baynes, Head of Grants and Social Policy at RBL, comments on the impact on the team:


“With Lightning Reach we’re able to deliver a similar volume of support with less than 10 people, compared to 80 trained welfare staff previously. As the applicant completes all the information themselves, you are able to assess their needs upon the first point of contact, reducing the need for follow-up conversations dramatically ”


It’s also been encouraging to hear from RBL staff about how easy they have found it to use Lightning Reach. Ed comments:


“It’s probably been the easiest training I have ever delivered. I can only say we are getting positive feedback on the system. The system use and ease has just been brilliant for us. I can’t speak highly enough of it. Everyone that touches the platform likes it, and other teams are asking when they can start using it. We’re already thinking about how we can use Lightning Reach for a range of our other services.”


Reaching new beneficiaries and helping clients find wider support


Using the Lightning Reach portal has enabled RBL to reach an entirely new and more diverse set of beneficiaries, including a significantly greater share of younger and currently serving personnel. It has also helped remove some of the stigma around asking for help by empowering people to take control over the process and apply on their own, at a time and place that suits them. The improved user experience has been highlighted by beneficiaries such as Luke, who was frustrated by the previous phone and paper-based process, as well as veteran Kim. Steve comments:


“We’ve seen a large volume of people from segments of the community that we struggle to reach, increasing the inclusivity of our programmes. It’s really proving a fantastically useful tool for reaching those people who don’t want to phone up and speak to someone to get support.”


It has also been fantastic to see many of RBL’s older clients and veterans successfully completing their application through the portal, despite the common perception that this demographic may not be able or willing to complete online applications. These include Elizabeth and Michael, who gained the confidence to apply online to both RBL and Royal Navy Benevolent Trust after speaking with a member of the Lightning Reach support team.


RBL has enabled many of its service users to find and apply for a much broader range of personalised support in one place, increasing their chances of obtaining holistic support to achieve financial security. These include beneficiaries such as Darren, who discovered multiple support schemes he had been unaware of. He went on to receive a range of disability benefits, help from his local council, energy provider and bank which enabled him to get out of debt.


If you would like to read more about how Lightning Reach and the Royal British Legion have helped those struggling with the cost of living you can read the following stories here:



If you are interested in discussing how the Lightning Reach portal could support your organisation in streamlining and accelerating the delivery of financial support to your service users, while reaching a wider range of potential clients to access support from your organisation quickly and easily, please get in touch with dave@lightningreach.org 

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