A service launched last year by a leading military charity to help veterans and their families has transformed the support available for the Armed Forces community living in Scotland, helping 340 clients during that time.
Poppyscotland’s six-strong Welfare Support Service team provides support to vulnerable veterans and to those identified as having complex needs. These can range from mental or physical health to problems with money and housing. As well as providing a helping hand for Poppyscotland’s clients, members of the team work alongside a wide network of agencies, professionals and volunteers to ensure that veterans get the help needed.
The service is available to the Armed Forces community across the whole of Scotland. The team, which is made up of four Welfare Support Officers and two Independent Living Advisers, uses the benefit of local knowledge and expertise to provide tailored support and guidance. In its first year, 340 clients accessed the service which resulted in 990 visits and with individuals receiving support with a wide range of issues including finance, mental health, isolation and homelessness.
Sharon Higgins, Deputy Head of Welfare Services at Poppyscotland, said: “The introduction of the Welfare Support Service was a significant step for Poppyscotland’s Welfare Services. The immediate impact saw unprecedented demand for support all over Scotland as we travelled to meet veterans in their homes.
“Fast forward nine months of delivery and the constraints of COVID-19 where all visits were halted. Despite the restrictions, our dedicated team has been able to develop new methods of contact and we have been creative in how we support individuals with their complex needs, resulting in many positive outcomes.”
One such veteran that has been helped by the service served with the Royal Navy for 27 years – a period which included three tours of the Gulf and one of Kosovo. After leaving the Navy, he realised that the trauma he witnessed had caused a lasting effect on him and he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
He approached Poppyscotland to request financial support in the hope that the charity could help fund a separate room in his home for him to seek the solitude he requires at times to sleep well and continue with self-help therapies in a quiet and safe space. Poppyscotland stepped in to co-ordinate funding this request and building will start on the property in the very near future.
The veteran said: “This time last year I thought I was worthless, that nobody cared. All those things I did for other people were done without any regard for myself, without any thoughts of praise, without any need for thanks. It was a bitter pill to swallow that in my own personal time of need, there appeared, at that time, to be no-one there for me.
“But, oh my how, that has changed. I will be eternally grateful to Poppyscotland. I wish I knew how to say ‘thank you’ more, as alone it feels inadequate. I’m blown away. I truly am. I cannot begin to explain how much this will improve the lives of my family and I.”
If you would like to find out more information about Poppyscotland’s Welfare Support Service, please visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-help/. The charity provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community. Money raised from the Scottish Poppy Appeal and Poppyscotland’s year-round fundraising enables them to deliver support to members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland by providing tailored funding and assistance. The charity also funds services in advice, employment, housing, mental health, mobility and respite