Our initial welfare team consisted of two, myself (Bert Elson) covering Central and South Thailand and Glenn Croston who covered North Thailand. Both were soon in action as untrained caseworkers and it soon became obvious that A) we needed training and B) we needed more welfare caseworkers. It was not uncommon for us to travel 12 to 15 hours one way to visit a case and then return home to either Pattaya or Chiang Mai.
(L to R) Bert Elson Course Trainer, Jaa Sukpirom, Tony Archer, Barry Williams, Nancy Lindley and John Burnett at the Chiang Mai caseworker event.
Glenn was the first to complete a caseworker’s course in the UK and I completed mine along with a trainer’s course in 2011. This not only gave Glenn and myself the confidence to carry out our welfare work but also enabled me to train the caseworkers we desperately needed to cover Thailand. Our first Basic Caseworker’s course was soon held giving our branch seven more caseworkers and allowing us to cover Bangkok, Central Thailand and some of the popular holiday islands (Phuket and Koh Samui).
Everyone is studying hard.
Our work has revolved mainly around either elderly veterans who have retired here or some of the many younger ones (some still serving) who visit the many holiday destinations here in Thailand. We also have a number of widows under our wing who we ensure receive any entitlements they are due. Some of our cases unfortunately fall outside of our guidelines, for instance private medical care, so please whilst Thailand is a wonderful place to visit or retire please remember that healthcare is your responsibility.
It was obvious on our very first welfare case that we may have a language problem. If dealing with someone in one of the many private hospitals we normally had an international representative to deal with. When dealing with government hospitals where many of our clients are, we had no such luxury. My wife soon became my and other caseworkers’ constant companion. Our need for Thai involvement became even more apparent with the case of Sing Ram Tang who, as a Karen lived in the hills bordering Thailand and Burma, Sing was also a member of the North Kachin Levies (Late 3rd Burma Rifles) who fought alongside the British in WWII and was awarded the Burma Gallantry Medal.
Graham Macdonald and Derek Brook (with ties) have a drink with Chiang Mai members after the meeting.
Thanks to the many volunteer groups who work amongst the Karen tribes our Northern caseworker Glenn was informed that Sing was unwell. Glenn was soon on the job and although poor Sing passed away, with the help of Susan and her head office team we soon almonised and provided help for Sing’s dependants.
Our latest caseworker’s course was held a few days ago in Chiang Mai and I am glad to report that on the course was our first Thai candidate Jaa. Jaa is a trained nurse and has been a member of the Legion for some time. She and the other candidates passed with flying colours giving Thailand a total of 14 trained caseworkers. We also had a guest on the Chiang Mai course, a Mrs. Nancy Lindley from Lanna Care, a local charity who assist expats of many nations who find themselves in distress.
All smiles as Pattaya and Chiang Mai members strengthen their relationship.
My visit to Chiang Mai was also to attend their Branch Meeting and for this I was also accompanied by Branch President Graham Macdonald and Branch Chairman Derek Brook. We received a fantastic reception before, during and after the meeting and have made a pledge to go more often. The Chiang Mai Branch are at present looking for a new home to meet so please watch this space for future announcements.
We hope to hold two more basic caseworker courses soon, one in Pattaya (with my wife as first candidate!) our busiest area and one in Phuket that would also cover the South of Thailand. Anyone wishing to join the Legion or who have served in the UK Armed Forces and need assistance please contact: