My name is Joe and I wanted to tell you something and prove that you don’t need to be too proud to ask for help. I would never have survived Christmas if it wasn’t for The Veterans Charity.

4 Years ago in December, life was pretty crap. I remember logging onto the bank and realising that once again, the bank had swallowed nearly all of our tax credits. I was working at the time, but for a company who really didn’t care that paying my wages late every month meant I got stung with around £100-150 in charges.

For the longest time, I was living hand to mouth, feeling pretty much like a failure to my family. I was depressed. I phoned my wife and listened as she cried down the phone when I told her we’d have to go cold in order to get food, or sell something to make sure we could have heating and food. We had nothing left to sell though as we’d be doing this every month. I didn’t dare tell her we weren’t getting paid until after Christmas. She hadn’t even started the Christmas shopping yet and with 5 girls to buy for, she was going to be broken, AGAIN.



My Name is Mel and I’m Joe’s wife. I will never forget my worst and best Christmas 4 years ago.

Once again, we had been stung by the bank and we were literally at rock bottom. Together we have faced so much. When Joe was serving, things were tough but we had our military back up (our friends). Then he left and Civvi street came with a real big thump. If you’ve been through it, you’ll know it’s not all sunshine and roses, quite the opposite. We nearly split so many times, and I thought this year was going to break us.

Joe phoned one day, he had gone to the bank to discover our tax credits had all but been swallowed, we’d been left with peanuts. We couldn’t afford food let alone gas and food. I cried, as I had done many times over the last few months. We tried to claim the money back from the bank to no avail, they didn’t care that my 5 girls would be cold!

I can be cold, Joe can be cold, but they didn’t deserve it. We could go hungry but they couldn’t. Why should they have to suffer?

We’d sold almost everything we owned in order to put food on the table before and we had nothing to sell. My family is awesome, don’t get me wrong, they really are and they have helped us loads over the years. But how many times can you ask? They judge, without meaning to, but they do. It isn’t their fault. I really didn’t know what to do…

I called my sister who said she couldn’t help but knew someone who might be able to. Danny from The Veterans Charity!


I hate calling people and I had to do this without Joe knowing as he would go nuts that I had contacted a charity for help, but I had no choice. I was happy to starve; heck I’d gone hungry many times before, but I wouldn’t see my kids starve.

I dropped a message to Danny through the VC website, explaining our situation and pointing out that Joe would probably hate me for contacting but I didn’t know what else to do. This is where the happy part comes in to play…

Danny dropped me a message back, he was so ‘Non-Judgemental’, he got it. He just said ‘Let us help you guys out’. I cried, again, and again. He never told us we were the makings of our own mistakes and failings, he listened, he understood and he was there. It was like having that security blanket back, the one you leave behind when you leave the forces. IN the forces, we had welfare, we had other military friends and family, there was always someone to turn to. It isn’t like that in Civvi street, people don’t get it, they don’t understand the struggles you face re adjusting, not only for the one who served but for everyone.


The Veterans Charity arranged a massive food shop to get us out the immediate danger, allowing me to put the little money I had onto my gas to get us through the next week.

But then they went one step further, and this is where they earn their guardian angel status!

The Veterans Charity not only helped us sort a small gift each for the kids, but just a few days before Christmas, Danny turned up at my door. He came laden with a huge box of foods and nicey’s and baubles and decorations, everything you need to make Christmas. I think I probably cried again. I cry a lot!


We were facing a Christmas of nothing special, no big dinner, no fancy day. Just a family day trying to make the best of a bad situation. Don’t get me wrong, we’d have made it special somehow, but it wouldn’t have been Christmas, not really. VC made it Christmas, the hamper they delivered meant we could, as a family, sit down to Christmas dinner and make the memories you should be making, not dwelling on what we couldn’t do.


The Veterans Charity taught us an important lesson that year, for years we’d spent hundreds on gifts, big dinners, lots of booze and surrounded by friends. That year we had a small Christmas, a small gift each and quiet. It really takes the bad times to make you appreciate what you have got, and who is there for you. VC is our family! They came into our lives when we needed them and they gave us the helping hand up that we required.


Since then we have always kept Christmas small, it isn’t about what you have anymore, what you receive. It is about what you give and The Veterans Charity gave us a lifeline, they gave us hope, they showed us there were people who cared about us, little old us. 

The Veterans Charity were Santa that year, they were friends and now they will always be family. I hope to one day be able to pay them back for all of the help and friendship they have shown us, not only then but now. Never once have I forgotten how much they changed my outlook.

This Christmas I see the posts going up about helping others and it makes my heart swell. The love VC have for those who have served is phenomenal.


We owe VC that Christmas, it wasn’t our making but theirs, and it was one of the most amazing Christmases we have ever had. Knowing someone’s got your back when you’re down and out, it’s humbling.

I can never repay them for the love and kindness they showed us, for the non-judgemental attitude they have. I hope if you’ve read this far you’ll think about those less fortunate this year, if you can spare a £1, know that VC will put it to good use helping those who truly need it, without making them feel bad for asking.


As I said before, I thought my husband would kill me for messaging, he is a proud, hardworking, family man, but he understood, and whilst for a second he may have been annoyed, when he spoke to Danny, he realised why he shouldn’t ever be too proud to ask for help, because VC isn’t like anyone else, they truly care, you’re not just a number and they will never make you feel like you are not worthy, because you are.

You served for your family, you served for your friends, you served for me, for my family, for everyone. You served for VC, and YOU ARE WORTHY.


Thank you VC, Thank you Danny, and for those reading this, if you served, thank you for serving. You are awesome!

Melony and Joseph Robertson

Charity Registration: 1123149

Company Registration: 6484880

Fundraising Regulator: 139375

© 2020 The Veterans Charity


The Veterans Charity, Seven Brethren Bank, Barnstaple EX31 2AS

We are committed to delivering the highest standards and aim to ensure that all aspects of our work reflect this. Any concerns should be addressed to us in writing to the above address, by email to contact@veteranscharity.org.uk or by telephone on 01271 371001.

Read our Complaints policy