The Service charities

There is a long and distinguished tradition in the UK of charitable involvement in the welfare of Service people, particularly those who have been injured. There is a wide range of specific Armed Forces charities and many other non-military charities also do much for the veteran and serving community. The major military charities often co-ordinate their activity through the Confederation of Service Charities ( The Chief of Defence People, a 3 star military officer in the MoD, takes a strategic view of how best the Ministry of Defence and the Service charities can work in unison.

Headley Court is a significant example of the UK approach. A Headley Court Trust was established in 1947 and remains in being to this day. The Trust owns the 33 acre site in Surrey and all the buildings on it. Its ‘objects’ relate to the rehabilitation of the personnel serving in the Armed Forces. The Ministry of Defence is responsible for all the operating costs involved in the conduct of clinical rehabilitation on the site, which include the maintenance and development of the buildings, although the Trust assists from time to time with specific projects which add to the welfare of the patients. It is intended that a DNRC will reflect this charitable approach. To this end an appropriate charity was established in May 2011, known as The Black Stork Charity.

Clinical rehabilitation followed by recovery

The Help for Heroes Recovery Centres and the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) are completely separate places, run by separate organisations but they have the same aim: to support the wounded, injured and sick members of the armed forces along their road to recovery. They are both part of a pathway which ensures that those injured, by whatever means, have the best possible opportunity to recover – a journey that can take years in some cases. The distinction is that the DNRC is involved in clinical rehabilitation and the activity in the Recovery Centres follows on and covers the full range of transitional activities.

Those wounded on operations are transferred from field hospitals to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. After medical treatment, many transfer to Headley Court and in the future to the DNRC. It aims to return members of the Armed Forces to work in ships, regiments and air stations if at all possible.

Beyond clinical rehabilitation, wounded and injured soldiers, sailors, marines and airforce personnel move into a final phase: recovery. This happens at the newly built network of Recovery Centres across the country, which are also open to veterans and their families.

The Recovery Centres offer residential and day facilities where they can access life skills courses, training and education, top class sports facilities and activities as well as welfare advice – all in one place and available whenever they are needed. In addition, they provide support with individuals’ overall health and physical wellbeing and access to grants from other charities.  The tri-service charities principally associated with the activities to be undertaken in the DNRC include:

  • Blesma 
  • Combat Stress
  • Help for Heroes 
  • HighGround
  • The Royal British Legion