Volunteering to help Ex Services


Book Reviewer
Er.......there is a government website for people who wish to volunteer in their local area at http://www.yearofthevolunteer.org/

To my complete lack of surprise, the drop down menu inviting you to register your postcode and area of interest ( " tell us what you are passionate about! " ) includes

the elderly
drugs and addiction
prisoners & ex offenders

.........no mention of either " Veterans" or " ex Services ".

This despite a separate banner declaring " This Month's theme - July is Veterans Month ! "

The Theme leads to a useful page http://www.yearofthevolunteer.org/html/months_theme.html

I know there are plenty of people out there who would like to volunteer to help the established Service charities but are unsure how to get in touch.. This site seems to act as a sort of UCCA for would-be Samaritans...surely they could put an option on their menu for people who have an interest in Veterans Affairs ?

Any moderator want to take this up with them and demonstrate the legendary Power of ARRSE ?

Le Chevre
Having been a care assistant for the less fortunate since the year dot, it has been my unhappy experience to note that if people actually want to assist they will and do find these details for themselves. It is indeed unfortunate that we now appear to live in a society where our responsibility to care for the less able has been taken over by the concept of "volunteering" as if its an optional extra.


Book Reviewer
Well yeah...er....thanks for that Buttercup...concur.

Meanwhile, Mods, would you like to take up the point with www.yearofthevolunteer.org/ ?

Other than the drop down it is a useful portal.

Le Chevre
Goatman said:
Well yeah...er....thanks for that Buttercup...concur.

Meanwhile, Mods, would you like to take up the point with www.yearofthevolunteer.org/ ?

Other than the drop down it is a useful portal.

Le Chevre
The website is a partnership between the home office, Council for Voluntary Service and others. the government takes the lead on it.

My own opinion is that it is a big con anyway the year of volunteer etc yes, get funding for voluntary stuff and they will only give you it for the yearmop to 31 march 06..that is not much good for any organisation, never min d a voluntary one.
I too wasn't impressed with it either canteen-cowboy but think it was a good spot of Goatman's that "July is Veterans Month" was carelessly omitted. I don't think this timely reminder was totally wasted though.

For those of you who would like to assist with BLESMA ( British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association) and would like some pointers in that direction, please pm me and I will be delighted to have someone from BLESMA contact you. The role I am involved in covers the following:

1. Agree to visit between 12 - 15 ex-service people once every six months in the area you have chosen.

2. The visit can last up to an hour and its just checking that they are managing and general welfare. Taking a few notes is always handy.

3. If you have any concerns about the person you have visited, a phone call to the area supervisor will suffice and they will take it from there.

4. Mileage is paid for and relevant telephone costs.

Edited 30 July 2005 - Thanks to everyone who has contacted me however, due to unforeseen circumstances, I will no longer be an available contact on this site. May I please direct you to either calling BLESMA direct on tel:0208 590 1124 or email:blesma185@btconnect.com where they will be happy to have someone contact you in your area.

Again, many thanks for your support.
I am an ex soldier who has only stumbled across thois board by accident.

Perhaps I have missed something but this seems to have got has got worse

Lots more choices for charities, but none of them e x services! You can voilunteer to help loads of PC charities -= but the closesd you moight get is

Mental Health or Ex offenders!

I will raise this with the Royal British Legion and ask someone there to take this up.
As some of you know Im a full time Carer for my other half who has a chronic back injury and is bedridden.

It infuriates me how little is out there for ex servicemen support wise.

Im ashamed to say until I met the other half I hadn't even thought about it. I don't think many people do.

There is very little out there, volunteering and lack of recognition is a very small drop in a very large pond.

Did you know for instance that while ex serviceman are given priority treatment on the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales that does not infact apply in Northern Ireland?

We have the RBL and that is it here, many many ex servicemen just seem to fall through the net.

(DO NOT even go there with S.S.F.A IMHO they are a waste of space here, I can only comment on my local office)

Associations are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Again I can only comment on his Association. (treading carefully)

In the main there doesn't seem to be an awful lot out there.


Book Reviewer
I've now got a contact for the website and will see if we can get either 'Veterans' or 'Ex Services' added to the drop down.

Breath holding inadvisable....

Le Chevre
Just saw this link in my mailbox: http://www.modoracle.com/?page=http...l&refresh=D3FAFEC4-C649-4A20-BED91079CDCB2725

No Home But Not Alone

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Source: MoD News

For too long up to a quarter of Britain's homeless people were former servicemen and women. Now MOD is working with charities to give a helping hand to those who need it and make sure that no-one who leaves the forces ends up on the streets.

Stephen, a former soldier, felt that his world had fallen apart when an Army medical officer informed him that he was to be discharged because of a medical condition. The Army had been everything to him and he could not envisage life outside:

"When I found out my career was over, my heart was racing," he said. "I didn't know what to do."

Such distress and confusion can be disastrous for a person facing the transition from military to civilian life. Stephen might easily have found himself jobless and homeless. But he was referred to the charity Combat Stress and then on to Home Base, a charity which provides housing and counselling for vulnerable ex-service personnel.

Stephen is now doing well in civilian life, thanks to the help of others and the sense of pride that he took with him when he left the military:

"Army life will never leave me," he said. "When I walk down the street, it is always stomach in, chest out. My very soul is on parade."

That sense of pride has to be good, but, as psychologist Nadia Al Khudairy of Home Base put it:

"Shooting off 10 rounds in two minutes doesn't help in civvy street. In the relatively small and supportive military world, soldiers are 'somebody', but when they come out into the wider world they are on their own. Some of them continue to refer to 'civvies' as if they are themselves not civilians. In return, they can be treated like immigrants in their own country."

A recent report claimed that while an authoritative military system can offer useful guidance, it can also take away responsibilities. Afterwards, denied the support to which they have become accustomed, some people spiral into depression and a paralysing loss of "identity".

According to the report's author, Gerard Lemos, homelessness and other problems are a frequent consequence.

This may not seem that surprising now, but 10 years ago when a study by Crisis alleged that up to 25 per cent of men and women living rough in our major cities were former service personnel, the public was shocked and MOD and forces sensitivities smarted. The official reaction was halting and prickly. After all, resettlement training was, even then, routinely available for those planning to hand back their uniforms.

But the folly of fighting against the tide was eventually appreciated, and MOD began to address the problem. That 25 per cent figure remains controversial, but the department accepts that it must play a significant part in resolving one of society's most corrosive problems.

So what is MOD doing? At lot, it seems. Deputy Chief of Defence Staff with responsibility for personnel, General Anthony Palmer, has just retired, and before handing back his Main Building pass, he told Focus about MOD's cooperation with charities such as Combat Stress, the Army Benevolent Fund and the British Legion. They work together under the apparently highly effective umbrella of the Ex-Service Action Group (ESAG). And the coalition is, it seems, beginning to make a real difference:

"We're taking the issue of homelessness a hell of a lot more seriously than we have in a long time," said the general.

He accepts the 25 per cent figure of a decade ago, and agrees the problem was serious. However, he believes that now no more than one in 10 homeless persons is a veteran.

General Palmer says that the Army, Navy and Air Force cannot shoulder all the blame for the personal problems that lead to homelessness. It is up to individuals whether they join the forces, and it follows that individuals must accept some responsibility for their own welfare. Many people join up with personal issues that can be concealed and coped with while they are in uniform but are revealed again when they return to the far less certain world of civilian life.

And he points out that some 96 per cent of the 23,000 personnel who leave the forces every year do so armed with "very strong transferable skills" and have jobs within six months.

But he is sympathetic to those who fall on hard times, and by being an active member of the Ex-Service Action Group, he demonstrates this:

"My current estimate is that we've made pretty big strides in the last couple of years but we really have only just started. We want to do as much as we can to make sure tha't no service people end up on the streets."

The general says more hard information is needed, which is why the MOD has teamed up with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to carry out research in the "homeless hotspots". Information which is already available, suggests that the notorious 25 per cent figure was heavily influenced by the veterans of service in the 1960s and 1970s, when many more people spent a period in uniform. Even now, veterans of national service in the 1950s impact on the statistics.

The picture so far may be of a senior officer who jumps slightly too quickly to the defence of the forces. But General Palmer's softer side emerges easily. There is no disrespect in his voice when he speaks of those who have fallen onto very hard times:

"I've met all sorts of extraordinary people from all sorts of backgrounds who've ended up homeless. They are people who have had very unfortunate experiences for all sorts of reasons, and very often alcohol, drugs or mental health problems are involved. Our whole aim is to get them back into work. It's incredibly worthwhile but it's very time and effort consuming because you have to deal with each person as an individual."

He lists the many projects that have brought the resources of MOD into collaboration with homeless charities and other government agencies under ESAG. He is clearly proud that many of these joint initiatives are producing results, and is particularly pleased with the Single Persons Accommodation Centre for Ex-Services (SPACES). With funding from MOD, this organisation was responsible for placing 57 desperate people into housing last year. Now the project has opened 13 studio flats in Richmond, Yorkshire, and there is talk of a similar establishment in Aldershot.

General Palmer is also heavily involved in the thriving Project Compass, which he jointly chaired with Mike Wareing of management consultants KPMG. The charity runs personal development programmes and gives ex-service personnel a hand back into employment. Business giants like Debenhams and Tesco help Project Compass by contributing funds, work placements and office space. General Palmer intends to continue working with them in retirement.

The general is also proud of new systems within the forces that build on resettlement training. Now, every person planning to leave is interviewed so that the most vulnerable can be directed to schemes like Project Compass or Home Base.

It would be wrong to suggest that many homeless ex-service personnel end up in prison, but some do, and there are even plans for a special resettlement programme for them.

And what of the possible link between post traumatic stress disorder and homelessness? The painfully long drawn-out development of PTSD might be one reason why some ex-servicemen and women cope for 10 to 15 years years after leaving the forces before they become homeless. General Palmer clearly believes that such mental and emotional stress can make it vastly more difficult for people to find their feet in civilian life. He hopes that an ongoing study of Iraq veterans by psychologists at King's College will help to establish the severity of the problem, but conclusive results are not expected for some time.

Meanwhile, the Army has introduced three-day-long "decompression training" after some deployments; a measure designed to help people identify and cope with emotional issues that could become major problems later in life. General Palmer would like MOD to take this work further by employing more counsellors and therapists with experience of service life who can pass on their expertise:

"We are really up to making sure that men and women who have been in the armed forces are looked after when they return to civilian life," he says. "We want to identify those who are vulnerable and help them to settle into a new way of life. And those who cannot must know that they can turn to a number of organisations and get help."

Similar threads

Latest Threads