Help for Heroes is spending its money wisely, says founder

Bryn Parry defends the charity against claims made on BBC's Newsnight that it relies too much on Ministry of Defence advice about its spending

Bryn Parry
Bryn Parry

The co-founder of Help for Heroes, the charity for injured military personnel, said it has "nothing to feel embarrassed about" after it was criticised in a BBC report.

A report by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which was broadcast last night, included a number of wounded troops expressing concern about the amount that HFH was spending on building recovery centres rather than everyday care. Some former servicemen said they had found it difficult to access support centres run by the charity on military bases.

The report also said that some troops thought that the charity had been "overly reliant" on advice from the Ministry of Defence about how to spend its funds, and had not listened to its service users.

Former Royal Marine Ben McBean, a double amputee and a HFH patron, told Newsnight: "Rather than £100m being spent on limbs for every single guy who has been injured, and the future, instead the MoD somehow managed to get all these Gucci buildings out of it."

He added: "There's a lot of people I know who are unhappy with HFH."

But Bryn Parry, who set up Help for Heroes with his wife Emma five years ago, told Third Sector: "I’m immensely proud about what we’ve achieved in the past five years. We have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about."

He said he believed charity was spending its money wisely by investing in four recovery centres, in Tidworth, Wiltshire; Catterick, North Yorkshire; Colchester, Essex; and Plymouth, Devon, all of which are currently operating at interim capability.

Parry said it was working hard to make it easier for injured personnel no longer serving in the military to use its services. He said that its facilities at Tidworth were "in front of the wire" and therefore not subject to military security procedures. Access to its centres in Colchester, Catterick and Plymouth required military clearance, he said, because they were located either inside or on the edge of military bases, but they were still open to former military personnel.

The charity’s decision-making was not overly influenced by the MoD, he said. "We work very well in partnership with the MoD, but we are fiercely independent," said Parry. "Far from getting our orders from senior officers, we listen to the wounded – many of whom are our friends or family, or work for us."

He added: "All we care about is achieving the best for our men and women."

The charity’s income has surged in recent years, rising from almost £15m in 2008 to just under £47m in 2011. It estimates that it has provided help to nearly 2,000 people over the past 18 months.

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