“The idea and principle of Lightning Reach is amazing, whoever is the brain child needs a pat on the back. Putting all support under one click of a button has taken all the stress away from applying for support - it’s been a massively positive experience.”
When RAF and army veteran Luke unexpectedly found himself and his pregnant girlfriend unable to pay their bills and facing homelessness, Luke was forced to sell his car and rely on food banks to keep above water.
After speaking with his council, he was moved into a hotel without any cooking facilities, where they could only afford to eat one meal a day because of how expensive it was to buy food out. Without any regular communication from the council - his situation remained uncertain.
Hope during an uncertain time
Luke got in touch with the Royal British Legion, who directed Luke to the Lightning Reach portal so that he could apply for their Everyday Needs Grant. Luke had approached the Royal British Legion for support a few months earlier before they were using Lightning Reach, but he found the process challenging.
“The process (before Lightning Reach) would just make people give up. Speaking to the right person was the big problem… Also, all the phone calls were withheld numbers that don’t leave a message, so it’s easy to miss their calls and you don’t know when they are going to phone you back. It’s disheartening with all the forms and chasing”
Luke had never heard of Lightning Reach before speaking to the Royal British Legion. By using the Lightning Reach portal, not only was Luke able to apply for support from the Royal British Legion - but he was also able to apply for support from the RAF Benevolent Fund through the portal too.
“Applying to the RAF Benevolent Fund through Lightning Reach was the easiest application I have ever done in my life. Everything was obvious and you can securely link bank details. I got a phone call 12 hours later after saying we are processing your application and will be in touch as soon as possible.”
Discovering new sources of support
Luke was also matched to support he would have never have thought of. The portal prompted him to tick any job he had ever worked in, including when he used to work in a school - which led to him also matching for support from the Teaching Staff Trust.
“I worked in a school for 5 years. I wouldn't have thought of putting that down if it wasn't an option. It made you realise that there is more support out there for you”
Luke even saved money on his broadband by applying for a social tariff he discovered from BT through the portal, which he said he would not have known about without Lightning Reach.
A lifeline of support
Luke has now received support from the Royal British Legion, including a one-off £75 food voucher and £70 a month for the next few months to help with their utility bills.
“Being able to get fresh food and support with our energy bills has been invaluable. They have also offered to pay for our pram and cot, which we had put a deposit down for but since losing our jobs we were unable to finish paying for.”
Luke has now passed details of the Lightning Reach portal on to all his neighbours and other veterans living at Entrain Space, where Luke and his partner are now living - who provide specialist accommodation for veterans leaving the military.