For a small but significant minority, life outside the military can be tough. Finding a job, securing a home, managing finances and coping with isolation are just some of the problems they experience. That’s where Poppyscotland steps in. In 2013/14 we delivered a range of year-round support and awarded over £775,000 to 1,500 individuals. Our work is making a huge difference to the Armed Forces community in Scotland.
Our dedicated welfare centre in Inverness marked its initial year of providing vital support, information and advice to veterans and their families living in the North of Scotland.
The centre received 590 general enquiries and the welfare team of three actively supported 83 people who presented with issues including finances, housing, employment, health, benefits and debt. The majority of those who accessed support were aged between 25 and 59 and the drop-in service proved popular, with 76% of people making contact this way.
TAILORED SUPPORT AND FUNDING
People’s needs change over time and that’s why it’s important that our support adapts flexibly too. We offer a helping hand with practical things that can often be simple but, for some people, out of reach.
We awarded funding to help people with a wide range of needs, such as paying travel expenses to job interviews, home adaptations and household expenses. Here’s an example of how the public’s donations enable us to make a difference.
There is an abundance of advice available to the Armed Forces community but knowing where to start looking can be overwhelming. We’ve made it easy to cut through the clutter of services and agencies to easily access relevant advice.
In 2014 the Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP), largely funded by Poppyscotland, marked its fourth successful year of providing specialist advice. Delivered in partnership with Scottish Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, ASAP has supported 5,292 people since its launch in 2010. In 2013/14 ASAP was expanded from 6 areas to 9. This geographical spread, along with a telephone helpline, means that advice is available across Scotland. A staggering £3,500,000 has, since 2010, been gained for clients in the form of benefits they were missing out on as well as grants from charities. With a return of £3.42 for every £1 of funding received, ASAP is cost-effective and, importantly, it is changing lives.
ASAP & Other Organisations
Referrals between ASAP and external organisations ensure that clients receive the best possible support. A partnership launched in 2014 between ASAP and Police Scotland means that the Police can now refer vulnerable veterans they come into contact with directly to the ASAP helpline.
ASAP is also working with The Silver Line helpline, so that vulnerable older people who call may be helped if they are identified as being a member of the ex-Service community in need of specialist advice or services.
We believe that securing employment after leaving the Armed Forces is the key to a successful future. We offer a number of services for veterans who are detached from the workplace, designed to help them get back on the road to work.
Employment Support Grants
We awarded 42 employment support grants to help low-skilled, low-paid or unemployed veterans retrain or learn a new skill for work after their time in the military.
Delivered in partnership with mental health charity SAMH, Employ-Able supported 78 veterans with low mood, depression and other mental health difficulties. They received tailored assistance to help them identify employment goals, improve their confidence and to remove barriers to them finding work.
Criminal Conviction Disclosure Service
We continued to fund a disclosure service, run in conjunction with Apex Scotland, to advise veterans on how and when to divulge information on past or current convictions.
LifeWorks is a fully funded five-day course, delivered by Royal British Legion Industries. We hosted three of these popular courses, including one at Castle Huntly Prison, where veterans received advice and guidance, as well as an insight into the skills required to find and maintain work.
Problems might start on the battlefield or they could emerge years later. We aim to help veterans live independent lives by providing occupational therapist assessments, home adaptations and mobility aids.
Nicky (47) from Edinburgh served with the Royal Scots in Germany, the first Gulf War and Northern Ireland. He left in 1995 and enjoyed a varied and fulfilling career, latterly working as a support services manager in the NHS. During this time he received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and, sadly, his deteriorating physical health meant he had to give up work.
Nicky needs to use a wheelchair at times so he made major adaptations to his home. The intention was to have decking laid so that he could easily access his garden from his wheelchair and enjoy the scenery. However, his funds ran out before this could be done so Poppyscotland stepped in and funded the construction of the decking.
Nicky spends a lot of time in his garden with his wife and his dog. He said: “Getting out into the garden improves my quality of life because I can sit on the decked area when I am having a bad day. It’s a peaceful place to relax and reflect. When I was in the Army I collected for the Scottish Poppy Appeal and now I can see first-hand the work that Poppyscotland does.”
A short break can make a huge difference to a veteran and his or her family. Poppy Breaks offer much-needed respite for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the means. In 2013/14 196 people benefited from a Poppy Break – an increase of 300% on the previous year. Of this number:
- One third were recovering from physical or mental health issues
- 15% had suffered a bereavement
- 15% took a break in an attempt to rebuild family relations
- Others were in pressing need of a break but could not afford one
“The break was very refreshing, thank you. I was able to spend time with my two boys and relax without any worries, something I have never done since leaving the Army and since my eldest son was diagnosed with ADHD.” Poppy Break recipient
Many members of the Armed Forces go straight from school to the military. Finding and keeping a home on returning to civilian life can be a real problem. To tackle this we support the work of specialist housing initiatives:
Following our substantial grant of £250,000 to housing charity Scottish Veterans Residences in 2012/13 to support the construction of its new housing build for veterans, we awarded an additional £25,000 in 2013/14 to fit out the IT and training room. The modern facility in Glasgow opened in October 2014. The 51-flat development provides a combination of independent and supported accommodation with a focus on younger veterans who are struggling to make the transition from military to civilian life.
Our grant of £10,000 to Housing Options Scotland has enabled the continued delivery of a dedicated housing advice service for veterans. Military Matters offers free and expert advice to disabled veterans to help them find the right home in the right place.
While most people leave the military in a good frame of mind, a significant minority experience mental health problems. Nightmares, flashbacks and isolation are just a few of the problems veterans can experience. We work closely with and give funding support to organisations who give advice and support to help veterans get well again.
Thanks to funding from Poppyscotland, the Thistle Foundation’s lifestyle management course was expanded from Edinburgh to Inverness in 2014. The peer support programme encourages supported self-management to deal with issues such as anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over the past six years we have committed £80,000 to help deliver these courses. The first outwith the central belt took place in our Inverness welfare centre in 2014 with a further course planned for 2015.
“I used to feel depressed and frustrated and was getting to the stage of suicide. On the course, I was surprised by how open the guys were and that helped me open up. It gave me structure and motivation. I can start planning my life now instead of feeling that it is over.” Course participant
Find out more about Poppyscotland’s support to members of the Armed Forces community here