Legion Scotland, (Royal British Legion Scotland) is the largest ex-services membership charity in Scotland and due to this demand the charity is currently looking to attract more people to provide friendship to ex-servicemen and women, young and old.

In 2015, 2,200 requests for befriender support were made either from a veteran directly or a family member. Research throughout the years has shown that veterans of all ages and backgrounds can encounter a range of challenges upon leaving the Armed Forces including isolation, unemployment and housing issues.

One of Legion Scotland’s Wellbeing Co-ordinators William McMaster, who is also Vice Chairman of his local branch, has witnessed first-hand the positive impact the service has on veterans.

He said: “Legion Scotland’s befriending service makes a massive difference to the general wellbeing of the veterans. Some members of the ex-service community have had no interaction for months and it is heart breaking. Everybody needs to talk. I had to struggle on my own to get better while I battled depression and homelessness so I hate the idea of someone having to go through a similar situation.

“I’ve received letters, emails and numerous phone calls from veterans thanking us for the work that we’ve done because we’ve changed their lives completely.”

Local Legion Scotland befrienders receive full training and can give as little as two hours a week of their time visiting a veteran, many of whom have no one else to talk to. They can also provide advice and signpost them to vital support services run by Legion Scotland and other military charities which can have a long lasting positive change on their life.

Stephen Baird, Head of Wellbeing, Legion Scotland said: “The amount of people contacting us last year is a stark reminder that veterans across Scotland are in need of support. Our befriending service is simple but highly effective. We know that some veterans may  feel isolated and lonely after leaving the military and having someone to talk to, share a laugh with and confide in can make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Legion Scotland is the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland working at the heart of the veterans’ community. With nearly 170 branches, 70 clubs and over 31,000 members, Legion Scotland provides essential wellbeing and befriending services for all veterans – whether they left service yesterday or 50 years ago – as well as providing disablement pension advice, comradeship events, grants and remembrance services.

To find out more about Legion Scotland’s befriending service including information on how to volunteer contact Stephen Baird on 0131 550 1560 ors.baird@legionscotland.org.uk

Currently, Legion Scotland represents around 85% of people at the disablement pensions tribunals each year and offers grants for veterans’ and their families.

Legion Scotland is the day-to-day name for the Royal British Legion Scotland and whilst it works alongside Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion to deliver the best for veterans it has always been a separate charity from The Royal British Legion which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To donate £3 text ‘LSCO15 £3’ to 70070.

To find out more visit www.legionscotland.org.uk