Forces in Mind Trust awards grant to help Scottish veterans

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), established to help ex-Service men and women make a successful transition back to civilian life, has awarded a grant of £100,755 over two years to Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine, a unique partnership run by national volunteering charity TimeBank and Scotland’s leading veterans’ charity Erskine, to help Scottish veterans in Glasgow and Edinburgh who are suffering with mental health problems, transition into civilian life.

This is the first project that FiMT has funded based in Scotland. There are over 23,400 serving personnel and some 400,000 plus veterans in Scotland.

On average, 27.2% of ex-service men and women experience a common mental health disorder (such as anxiety disorders, depression). This compares to 19.7% of those currently serving who have a common mental health disorder.

TimeBank will draw on the experience of its successful Shoulder to Shoulder veterans’ support projects in London and Birmingham to run a two-year volunteer mentoring programme for 80 ex-Service personnel and 20 of their immediate family members in Scotland.

The volunteers will be working directly with veterans who are recovering from mental health issues, as many sufferers struggle to adjust to life after the military, and family members are not always able to provide the necessary support or understanding.

The project’s beneficiaries will include early service leavers and older non-commissioned officers – both groups identified as being at particular risk of homelessness, unemployment, crime and domestic and community violence*. In addition, the Cross Party Group at the Scottish Parliament on Armed Forces Veterans (April 2012) identified a number of issues specific to Scottish veterans – the use of alcohol; the need to move them away from an institutionalised lifestyle; and an unwillingness on the part of many to engage with civilian support services.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of TimeBank, said: “Many service veterans are in a state of crisis in their lives, with complex and multi-faceted problems including financial hardship, homelessness, alcohol dependency and health issues including depression, anxiety and panic attacks. We know from our Shoulder to Shoulder projects in London and Birmingham that mentoring can be a powerful tool to alleviate their stress and isolation.”

Steve Conway, Chief Executive of Erskine said: “Erskine has been caring for Scotland’s veterans since 1916 and now we are seeing a whole new generation of veterans who need our help. We are very excited to be working with TimeBank to support ex-Service personnel.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust said: “We know that mental health issues present one of the key challenges that some ex-Service personnel can face as they transition to civilian life. Shoulder to Shoulder has an excellent reputation as an effective mentoring programme, and introducing it into the different societal and statutory environments of Scotland is an innovative and important step forward. Working with organisations such as Erskine and TimeBank to alleviate the pressures of transition on ex-Service personnel, is exactly what the Forces in Mind Trust was established to do and we are delighted to play a part in this important project.”

The new project has also received a grant of £65,000 from the Henry Smith Charity, which already supports the TimeBank Shoulder to Shoulder programme.

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*http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/CrossPartyGroups/Armed%20Forces%20Veterans/minutes_20120425.pdf.

About The Forces in Mind Trust: The concept of the Forces in Mind Trust arose from a Big Lottery Fund (BIG) £35 million investment to fund a partnership between (BIG), COBSEO (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT has recently signed up to the Corporate Covenant: https://www.gov.uk/the-corporate-covenant

• The concept of the Forces in Mind Trust arose from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. In addition to cobseo Members, key supporting charities are: The Mental Health Foundation, Centre for Mental Health and the Shaw Trust.

• During its first two years, FiMT has commissioned seminal research reports such as the Transition Mapping Study (TMS), which reviewed how the entire transition process from military to civilian life currently works and how it is viewed by stakeholders and recent Service leavers. The economic model developed for the report calculated the total cost of poor transition to the UK as a whole to be £113 million in 2012, whilst the report itself has been discussed across Whitehall and debated in Parliament.

ERSKINE has been caring for Scotland’s veterans since 1916; re-building shattered lives, restoring dignity and providing first-class care to ex-Service men and women within five care homes across Scotland. In the past year the charity has cared for 1,100 veterans. Erskine’s core role is to provide nursing care for elderly veterans in five specialist homes across Scotland but the charity also offers support, housing and employment opportunities to veterans of all ages. Erskine works closely with Veterans Scotland partner charities and agencies. Erskine relies on the generosity of its supporters to maintain its commitment to care for Scotland’s veterans – without donations, the charity simply cannot continue its work. For more information see: www.erskine.org.uk

TimeBank is a national volunteering charity, started in 2000. It recruits and trains volunteers to deliver mentoring projects to tackle complex social problems and also works with businesses to engage their staff in volunteering. TimeBank believe that great volunteering can transform the lives of both volunteers and beneficiaries by building stronger, happier and more inclusive communities. TimeBank’s Shoulder to Shoulder volunteer mentoring project was launched in 2010. It recruits and trains volunteer mentors to provide friendship and practical support, enhancing recovery and helping veterans make a successful transition to civilian life. For more information see www.timebank.org.uk