Shoulder to Shoulder

Our Shoulder to Shoulder volunteer mentoring programme in Scotland supports ex-service men and women who are recovering from mental health issues or having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. We also support veterans’ families, recognising that there is often little acknowledgement of the unique challenges they face.

Last year 22,530 personnel left the regular Armed Forces. Over 27% will have a mental health disorder. The Ashcroft Review (The Veterans Transition Review, February 2014) found that for Early Service Leavers the struggle after service life can be even more difficult – only 50% were in employment after six months. For some this can lead to offending, dependence on alcohol and drugs, homelessness and mental health problems.

TimeBank recruits and trains volunteer mentors to befriend and support veterans and their families.

We know that volunteer mentoring can be a powerful tool. It can help veterans lead independent lives, with the confidence to identify goals, lead on their own recovery plans and take control of their lives. And it can help family members tackle isolation, signpost them to services to help and help them build supportive social networks.

In October 2016 we launched an external evaluation of Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine conducted by research consultancy The Lines Between which found the project is meeting a need and addressing a gap in service provision. The report says the unique nature of the service is clearly providing a valued and useful addition to services that support veterans and points to increases in confidence, self-esteem and social networks resulting from mentoring. It concludes that the voluntary nature of the mentors’ contribution is a particular motivator, creating a social bond that encourages engagement in the project and complements professional services. Volunteers on the project felt they had learnt more about mental health issues and veterans’ support needs and gained a feeling of self-worth that came from doing something valuable.

You can download a copy of the evaluation report below.