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Friday 21 May 2010

Get Little Luxuries To Our Frontline Troops ‘In A Jiffy’!

Cheshire East’s Mayor is backing a campaign to get people to donate gifts to our frontline troops serving in Afghanistan.

The 1st Battalion Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) has deployed to Helmand Province for a six-month tour of duty.

While the soldiers are fighting for their country, the battalion's welfare committee is co-ordinating the collection of ‘goody bags’ to send to our troops serving on the frontline.

Now Cheshire East Council is calling on YOU to get involved. The aim is to help provide the soldiers with some much-needed creature comforts – and a physical reminder of the support of the public back home –while they are in action in a dangerous war zone.

The Cheshire soldiers really appreciate the gifts you send. Popular items to fill the Jiffy bags include:

● Book/magazine/puzzle book

● Lucozade tablets

● Pens/pencils

● Toothpaste/toothbrush

● Shampoo

● Roll-on deodorant

● Vaseline

● Soap/wet wipes

● Disposable razors

● Tampons/sanitary towels and tissues (for women’s bags)

● Playing cards

● Sachet of drinking chocolate

● Super noodles

● Cuppa soups

● Packets of mints or chewing gum

● Boiled or jelly sweets

● Salted peanuts

● Small ring-pull tins of food (eg. tuna, fruit)

● Powdered milk

Cheshire East Mayor Gordon Baxendale said: “The Cheshires are putting their lives on the line for their county and comrades in a very stressful and physically demanding environment.

“It is really important that we let them know they have the backing of the public back home. And this Jiffy bags scheme is a fantastic way to show support and bring the frontline troops some much-appreciated creature comforts.

“I urge everyone to do their bit and get involved.”

The Jiffy bags can weigh up to 2kg and must NOT be sealed. They can include a card from the donor with a return address so that the soldier can write back with his/her heartfelt thanks.

Jiffy bags need to be handed to the central collection point at Congleton Pentecostal Church, in Cross Street, Congleton, to be sent on to Marne Barracks, Catterick – the home base of 1 Mercian. From there they will be taken to the frontline troops by soldiers returning to Afghanistan from the UK.

The facility to get a parcel to a soldier as quickly as possible is crucial and returning soldiers are keen to courier parcels to Afghanistan.

Captain John Elms, welfare officer for 1 Battalion Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), said: “It is hugely important to get the support of the people of East Cheshire behind our soldiers – and they really appreciate it.

“Receiving a parcel after a hard day’s patrol means so much to the men and women serving in Helmand – as does knowing that they are remembered and not forgotten.

“The young soldiers of the regiment live in the same towns, villages and streets as you and they need you strength and support. Providing the right amount of welfare depends on local initiatives and donations, raising awareness and promoting support is key. I have a small welfare team that look after a lot of soldiers and families.”

Sending welfare parcels in shoe boxes through the British Forces Post Office system puts great strain on logistics, which thus increases delay. The Jiffy bags scheme being trialled by 1 Mercian hopes to minimise the logistical burden and reduce delays getting gifts to troops serving abroad – something Capt Elms believes is an essential factor in boosting soldiers’ morale.

Capt Elms added: “When they see that parcel it makes all the difference, making that day just a little bit brighter for them.”

The Cheshire’s main role in Helmand is to mentor local security forces and provide security on the ground as part of the development of creating normal, everyday life in Afghanistan.

The battalion recruits from Congleton, Crewe, Holmes Chapel, Middlewich, Macclesfield Sandbach and across Cheshire West.

Cllr Baxendale has named ABF The Soldiers’ Charity as one of the organisations he will fundraise for during his tenure as mayor.

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