I've been able to help someone who gave so much to our country ...

We’re delighted to have been awarded a grant of £50,000 from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, to support Scottish soldiers who are struggling to adjust to civilian life and reduce their risk of social and economic isolation. Here’s how our Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine project helps:

Michael writes:With a few hours to spare each week I decided to volunteer with Shoulder to Shoulder and help support a veteran.  The induction training provided me with a good overview about Shoulder to Shoulder and the new role that I had volunteered for.  I met up with my mentee Robert and the project co-ordinator Ali to see if we might be a good match and want to meet up regularly. 

The mentoring process was helpful to provide a structure for the meetings and give initial direction, which is important in the early days when new to the project.  Robert and I met every few weeks, usually at one of the local cafes and we would spend an hour or more together, talking over his week, the activities that he had been involved in and things that had been going well and not so well. 

Completing the Shoulder to Shoulder Mentoring Action Plan was helpful as it kept us both focused on areas that Robert wanted to work on, by clearly setting out his goals, the stops that he could take to achieve them and the possible people and resources that might help him to achieve them.  An important and interesting part of the mentoring relationship is the Shoulder to Shoulder Star Assessment which was completed by us both every few months and helped Robert to see the areas in which he had achieved. Over the year that Robert and I met we completed a range of goals and could see the gradual and consistent changes that were taking place by completing the Shoulder to Shoulder Star Assessment. 

It was very rewarding to gradually get to know Robert and share in the developments that were taking place in his life and overtime I learned about some of the situations that contributed to his developing PTSD when in the forces.  Through Shoulder to Shoulder I have been able to make a small contribution in helping someone who gave lots to our country and is now enjoying a good life.  I enjoyed being a volunteer and hope to continue in the role in the future.

Robert, in his early thirties, was in the army for four years, including Iraq, and came out in 2007. The transition was difficult, particularly thinking about where to settle down, and he had issues with anxiety. He was keen to get into volunteering, further study and then employment, however being anxious meant this was difficult as it meant being in crowds. His mentor helped by being someone he could talk through his issues with and they often went walking together to keep fit.

Each time they met Robert felt less anxious and they looked at ways to help combat this. Robert liked walking and took part in organised walks in Scotland and then with a physical activity group where he took the lead and enjoyed encouraging others to take exercise. This gave him the confidence to think about getting back into work. He updated his CV and volunteered for the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, helping to train Army Cadets. Robert also moved out of veterans’ accommodation to independent living. He is doing really well and was delighted to be successful in a job interview that enabled him to stay on as an employee working with the Army cadets.

If you’d like to know more about Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine, take a look here