As the country’s focus turns to Remembrance, Poppyscotland and Citizens’ Advice Scotland released a report at an event in Edinburgh to mark the fifth anniversary of their highly successful partnership initiative, the Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP).
Entitled What a difference: the groundbreaking work of ASAP 2010-2015, the report highlights the positive impact that the advice service is making on members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland but also identifies areas of difficulty, including income, employment and housing.
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was at the event, hosted by Standard Life, where she met Armed Forces veterans and ex-Service charity representatives. She said: “It is vitally important that members of our Armed Forces communities, whether or not they are serving, receive the help they need at a time when they feel at their most vulnerable. “We greatly value the service, commitment and contribution made by members of the Armed Forces, past and present. I welcome this report and our armed forces, reservists, veterans and their dependants have been helped to successful outcomes by the services provided by ASAP. “I admire the enthusiasm, drive and determination of the ASAP staff; the expert advice they are able to draw upon from a wide range of partner organisations is truly impressive. “I encourage employers and agencies across the country to learn from their example, and to support former members of our armed forces in realising their potential.”
Since ASAP was launched in 2010 it has helped 7,342 people with more than 32,000 issues. It has seen clients gain more than £5 million in benefits they were missing out on or grants they were entitled to from charities. The project expanded geographically too, from 5 areas in 2010 to 10 areas in 2015. As well as being effective, ASAP is cost-effective, with a £3.54 return for every £1 invested.
The report has found that individuals accessing ASAP have raised proportionately more benefits, housing and health issues than non-ASAP clients as a whole* with an average of 4.4 support needs per ASAP client compared to 3 for CAB clients. The top five issues presented are benefits (41%), debt (18%), finances (9%), housing (7%) and employment (7%).
Poppyscotland is the lead funder of the collaborative project, which is delivered by the Scottish CAB Service through a helpline and at a number of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CAB).
Ian McGregor, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, said: “ASAP is a success story for Poppyscotland; it is going a long way to tackling the problems faced by the most vulnerable members of the Armed Forces community and excellent results are being achieved. However, there is still more to be done. Without the generosity of the public who donate to the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal it would be impossible for us to provide this life-changing service. I hope that the public continues to support us again this year so that we can do even more to improve the wellbeing of those in the Armed Forces community and stop them from being disadvantaged.”
The five-year report was shared with an audience including CAB and ASAP representatives and other funders: ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, RAF Benevolent Fund, Seafarers UK, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity and SSAFA.
Dominic Notarangelo, Chair of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “The Scottish CAB service is delighted to be part of the Armed Services Advice Project and very proud of what we have achieved so far. As the CAB is one of the most recognised and trusted advice agencies in the country, we are ideally placed to deliver this service. We have always offered help to people in the Armed Forces as part of our general service, but by linking with Poppyscotland and other military charities we can now offer people the expert support they need.”
Members of the Armed Forces community in need of advice can call the ASAP helpline on 0808 800 1007 or visit www.adviceasap.org.uk
The report is available here