Westmeath County Council chair Cllr Frankie Keena with Paul Cooley and Frank Earl members of Athlone ONE raising the fuchsia flag at the civic centre last Friday.

Annual ONE Fuchsia appeal launched in Athlone

The annual Fuchsia appeal on behalf of ONE, the national charity for homeless veterans of the Defence Forces, has been launched. The fundraising campaign, which coincides with the charity’s 70th anniversary, is in aid of Defence Forces veterans who have experienced severe circumstances including homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues.

The Fuchsia flag was raised at the civic centre in Athlone on Friday last to mark the launch of the appeal at a ceremony attended by Westmeath County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Frankie Keena.

The week-long event which runs from September 25 until October 1 will see members and volunteers sell fuchsia emblems to raise vital funds for veterans. ONE’s current services cost in the region of €1 million annually and this will rise to €1.5m to adequately address the needs of veterans and to finance the associated services.

ONE has one of its four homes for veterans in Athlone, whilst there is also a ONE veteran support service in Custume Barracks.

The aim of the appeal, launched by the Chief of Staff designate of the Defence Forces, Major General Sean Clancy, is to raise funds and increase knowledge of issues affecting veterans of the Defence Forces. ONE is a registered charity that works to assist Defence Forces Veterans in obtaining permanent housing, access to mental health support and re-integrating back into civilian life.

ONE assists Defence Forces Veterans with transitioning back into civilian life through the provision of accommodation and also provides mental health resources, including help with addiction and peer support. The charity also aids veterans in their search for employment, sustaining permanent housing. ONE operates four homes in Cobh (opening in October 2021), Athlone, Letterkenny and Dublin, with its fifth home being planned for Cork City.

Commenting on the launch ONE CEO Ollie O’Connor, said: “The aim of this fundraiser is to honour the many veterans who have served our country and now need our help to get back on their feet. The past 18 months have been profoundly difficult as the charity was forced to cancel the fundraiser last year due to the pandemic which had a significant effect on our income.”