The Armed Forces Community consists of those who are serving, those who have served, and their families. This may make up to 10% of the residents in Bolton.
There is a misconception that most people leaving the services will find the transition difficult – most veterans will have a successful second career in civilian life – but for those who do have support needs there are a range of organisations which can help them. The issues that members of the Armed Forces Community may have are no different from those experienced by other vulnerable members of society– poor mental health, housing problems, drug and alcohol dependency, lack of skills or employment – but their experience of life in the Services is. It can be useful if the person providing the support understands this and can deliver tailored help based upon this.
As front line staff or a touchpoint organisations, you may not know if one of your service users is from the Armed Forces Community, so asking the question may make all the difference. Asking: “Have you, or your spouse/ partner (or “parents” for those working with young people) ever served in the UK Armed Forces?”
Will enable you to identify those who are eligible for specialist support. And you do not need to know about every large or small organisation in the area providing such support – last year the Government funded the Veterans Gateway which is a single point of contact for those in the Armed Forces Community. The Veterans Gateway provides self help, online chat and a 24/7 phone line and will ensure that the individual gets to the right place to support them, visit: https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/ or call 0808 802 1212.
If you would like more information on support available in Greater Manchester, or if you would like me to come along to speak with your staff and volunteers about the Armed Forces Community or the funding available from RBL, please contact me, Alison Bunn, Area Manager for the British Legion, on firstname.lastname@example.org