TimeBank receives funding to expand military mental health project

Julia Shipston Julia Shipston

TimeBank has received funding of £114,500 from the Royal British Legion and Combat Stress Voluntary Sector Strategic Partnership to expand their Shoulder to Shoulder pilot project into Birmingham. This mentoring project will positively change the lives and families of even more ex-Service men and women recovering from mental health problems.

Shoulder to Shoulder was launched in London last year in partnership with Combat Stress. The funding from the Partnership will enable the project to expand into Birmingham from October 2011 which will help 250 veterans adjust to civilian life following treatment for mental health problems.

It’s the first peer mentoring project in the UK which supports this group. Volunteers are either ex-Service men and women (regular, Territorial Army or reserve) who have made a successful transition to civilian life or who have an understanding of the issues through direct family connections.

Volunteers provide friendship and practical support, enhancing recovery and helping their mentees to make a successful transition into civilian life.

Helen Walker, TimeBank’s CEO, says: “We’re delighted that the Royal British Legion and Combat Stress have funded Shoulder to Shoulder. On average 20,000 Service men and women return to civilian life, every year – most resettle successfully. However, up to 27% experience mental health problems and nearly 20% have a mental health problem resulting from traumas and injuries they experienced during active Service*.

“Expanding into Birmingham means that we can now support 250 mentors and mentees over the three years, increasing our chances of having an even greater impact in the future.”

Sue Freeth, The Royal British Legion’s Director of Health and Welfare comments,

“We’re deeply concerned about the gap in service provision for those transitioning from clinical care to a normal life with their family, free of any safety net. This type of community project will provide practical support for Veterans and will enable people to take control of their lives.

“TimeBank’s track record and the quality of the mentoring programme attracted us to support the programme. Bolstering the London project and supporting the extension to Birmingham is a wonderful opportunity to combine our expertise and increase the availability of this vital help.”

Combat Stress’s Chief Executive, Commodore Andrew Cameron adds,

“It can be very difficult for veterans with psychological wounds to return to civilian society. Combat Stress is delighted that the mentoring support offered by TimeBank’s Shoulder to Shoulder project is now able to help more of our people make a successful transition back into civilian life.”

Notes to editors

Press contact: Sam Chalk on 020 3111 07 15 or email [email protected]


  • TimeBank is a national volunteering charity that runs its own volunteering projects, designed to tackle social issues. TimeBank also supports individuals and businesses to find rewarding volunteering  www.timebank.org.uk
  • More information and to register for the project go to www.timebank.org.uk/shoulder-to-shoulder
  • Mentors and mentees on Shoulder to Shoulder meet for about five hours a month for 6-12 months
  • Shoulder to Shoulder launched in London, initially as a pilot project
  • The project is also funded by the Department of Health, The Henry Smith Charity and The Dulverton Trust
  • TimeBank has 10 years’ experience running mentoring projects
  • Shoulder to Shoulder builds on TimeBank’s experience of running Back to Life (www.backtolife.org.uk), a mentoring project that matches young adults experiencing mental health issues with a volunteer mentor to help combat social isolation and speed recovery
  • * Stats from UK Defence Statistics 2010 and Mental Health Network NHS Confederation briefing November 2010, issue 210.

Combat Stress

  • Combat Stress is the leading UK charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental health.
  • We treat conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders.  Our services are free of charge to every Veteran.
  • Combat Stress have a current caseload of over 4,600 ex-Service men and women. This includes 533 who served in Iraq and 168 who have served in Afghanistan. Our youngest Veteran is just 20 years old.
  • On average it takes 13.1 years from Service discharge for Veterans to make the first-step approach to Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex.
  • For more information visit www.combatstress.org.uk

The Royal British Legion

  • The Royal British Legion stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with all who Serve – providing practical support and advice to Service personnel past and present, and their families, for the last 90 years.
  • The Royal British Legion campaigns on a range of issues affecting the Armed Forces community, is the custodian of Remembrance, runs the annual Poppy Appeal and are one of the UK’s largest membership organisations.
  • The Royal British Legion spend nearly £1.4 million a week delivering health and welfare support and in 2010 we helped our beneficiary community with 160,000 interventions.
  • The Royal British Legion’s mission is to be the No.1 provider of welfare, comradeship, representation and Remembrance for the Armed Forces community.

The Royal British Legion and Combat Stress were awarded grant funding that will support the Shoulder to Shoulder Project, from the Department of Health’s Voluntary Sector Strategic Partner Programme in April 2010, to carry out a three-year programme focusing on the mental health needs of the Armed Forces community. For more information please visit the supporting website

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