More than 100 veterans helped through new support project

More than 100 of Scotland’s ex-servicemen and women have been given life-changing support to help them settle back into civilian life.

Just our cup of tea: Veterans tell of lifeline support from Wheatley Foundation

The Veterans’ Support Service – run by the Wheatley Foundation, Wheatley Group’s charitable trust – supports people who have left the Armed Forces and need help to adjust to civilian life.

The service gives people personalised support with issues such as housing, money, accessing health care and settling into their community.

The veterans got together for an afternoon tea to mark Armed Forces Week and to celebrate the service reaching more than 100 people in the past year.

Jimmy Andrews, 86, who served in the RAF and Royal Artillery for 24 years, told how the service had helped him socialise more.

The GHA tenant from Corkerhill in Glasgow gets help from his support worker Shirley Docherty with his shopping, going to hospital appointments and meeting people in his community.

He said: “I went all over the place with the Army. I do miss it and I would go back in tomorrow if I could get away with it!

“Shirley comes up and helps me with my messages and things like that. She helps me get out and about and meet people at places like the Rugby club.

“It was good to come along and mark Armed Forces Week. I liked meeting other people from the Armed Forces and hearing about them. It is good to remember and it feels like yesterday.”

The programme is funded through a £473,000  grant from HM Treasury’s Libor Fund.

It is open to anyone in the central belt of Scotland who has been in the Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy, whether as a regular, part-time or reservist.

Wheatley Foundation Director, Lorraine McLaren, said: “While the majority of people who leave the Armed Forces make the transition to civilian life without significant difficulties, there are many who face problems, including homelessness, and need some extra support.

“The Veterans’ Support Service gives people one-to-one mentoring on the parts of their life they need help with – from getting involved in their community, to housing or money advice.

“We are delighted that we have now reached 100 people and it was a privilege to hear their stories and share Armed Forces Week with them.

“The Foundation is grateful for the LIBOR funding as it has enabled us to reach so many vulnerable people and help them make the most of their lives.”

Case study:

Dale McColm, pictured, below, served with 5 SCOTS between 2008 and 2013, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

He said: “The transition out of the Army was very hard for me. I found it very challenging to get back into mainstream society and I struggled to adapt.

“I have post-traumatic stress disorder. I don’t sleep well. I have insomnia and mood swings.

“When you are in the Army, you have a routine and you are always with people. I have worked my whole life, but suddenly, I was on my own, twiddling my thumbs.

“I got involved with the Wheatley Foundation’s veterans project through living at Bellrock Grove veterans residence. Living there was a turning point for me. It gave me a lot of support I needed.

“I have been given help with budgeting, managing my money, applying for benefits and helping me get back into work.

“I would say to anyone in the same boat as me that you can get help and you don’t need to try and do everything yourself.

“I feel like I am on the right path now and I know what to do with my life.

“I am a classically trained musician and I am now a DJ too. I am trying to get funding so I can train up to run music workshops for veterans to help them too.”

Friday, July 20, 2018