Issue 28 June 2013
Raising awareness of the range of help and advice available to veterans
Young at Heart Pensioners with new lease of life
Service Personnel & Veterans Agency
HELP AND SUPPORT FROM SERVICE PERSONNEL AND VETERANS AGENCY
Call the Veterans-UK Helpline 0800 169 2277* Visit www.veterans-uk.info
Facebook Service personnel and veterans Agency (MOD) *You may be offered a call back if lines are busy
June 2013 Issue 28
IN THIS ISSUE Great outlook for Welsh veterans support
Update from the Welsh Government
Applying the Skills Veterans in the education sector
Home Help Poppy Calls for home maintenance
Puppy Power Man’s best friend supporting veterans
Regulars 4-5 25
News in Brief SPVA News
Front cover: Royal Chelsea Hospital, see pages 12-15
The content of Veterans WORLD is provided to raise awareness of help, advice and support available to the veterans community. Publication of articles on services provided or developments affecting the veterans community does not mean that they are endorsed by Veterans WORLD or the Ministry of Defence.
For advertising opportunities please contact: SPVA-VeteransWorld@mod.uk Veterans WORLD is distributed to those who work in an advisory role.
Managing Editor: Laurie Manton Editor: Clare Ellis Email: SPVA-VeteransWorld@mod.uk Want to make an editorial contribution? Contributions are most welcome. To raise awareness of an initiative, scheme or organisation that offers help, advice or support to veterans, contact the Editorial Team by Email: SPVA-VeteransWorld@mod.uk or by calling: 01253 338816 For distribution enquiries Email: SPVA-VeteransWorld@mod.uk or call: 01253 338811
© Crown copyright 2013
Issue 28 June 2013
News in brief Thousands apply for new awards The first Arctic Stars and Bomber Command Clasps were presented in March and applications continue to pour in. The new awards are made in recognition of the great bravery of those who contributed to two very significant campaigns of the Second World War. It’s estimated that up to 120,000 veterans or next of kin could be eligible for the Arctic Star and 125,000 for the Bomber Command clasp. Bomber Command operated from the first day of the War in Europe to the last. Of the
approximately 125,000 aircrew who served in the Command, 55,573 were killed. The Star is in recognition of the perilous Arctic Convoys and other operations in the Arctic Circle during the Second World War. The convoys provided much needed supplies to the Soviet Union (Russia) from boots to railway engines. The design for the Arctic Star is based on the other World War Two Stars and the Bomber Command Clasp, to be worn on the ribbon of the 1939 to 1945 Star, follows the design of the Battle of Britain Clasp. Further details and how to apply are available at www.veterans-uk.info or by calling the MOD Medal Office on 0800 169 2277. Editor’s note: By mid May, over 5,000 applications for the Arctic Star had been received and over 3,000 requests for the Bomber Command Clasp.
TV personality backs campaign
Television personality Johnny Ball, himself a National Service veteran is backing the ‘No One Alone’ campaign which aims to reach men in their 70s and 80s who were conscripted into the Armed Forces when they were young and don’t realise they are eligible for support from national charity Blind Veterans UK. Johnny said: ”I am known as a broadcaster, but I am also an Armed Forces veteran. I never forget that after a pretty disastrous education, it
was my National Service call up in 1956 that changed the course of my life. I have always considered the RAF as being my "university", giving me confidence and belief in both myself and my ability. “I am much older now and luckily still in good health, but I am really pleased to hear of the Blind Veterans UK’s ‘No One Alone’ advertising campaign which will run throughout the UK , and to realise how the charity can help support veterans of the Armed Forces who have not been as fortunate as I. “ Johnny Ball shares Blind Veterans UK’s belief that no one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. If you know of anyone who might benefit from the charity’s support which includes training, rehabilitation and holidays, then visit www.noonealone.org.uk or call freephone 0800 389 7979.
Guide for bereaved families The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) recently made a grant to the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Widows’ Association (RNRMWA) to support their production of A Bereaved Families Guide: Support when you need it most. Chair of the RNRMWA, Lesley-Ann George-Taylor, said, “There are lots of facts on the internet but we wanted to produce something that you can hold in your hand and turn to whenever you need advice from people who are in the same situation. “We are grateful to the RNRMC for funding this Guide and the support it gives to all the umbrella charities that help so many people.” The RNRMWA is run by a group of volunteers to support widows and widowers and recognised partners of Service personnel. www.rnrmwidowsassociation.org
Holiday home joy A charity which helps the children of fallen Servicemen and women has opened the second of a planned network of holiday homes across the UK. Scotty’s Little Soldiers, named after Corporal Lee Scott, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, and run by his widow Nikki, has raised more than £450,000 since the charity launched in August 2010. The first lodge opened in Great Yarmouth in July last year and in less than a year they have opened their second one in Blackpool. Both holiday homes cost in the region of £105,000 to open and are fully-equipped three-bedroom lodges situated on Haven sites. Nikki said: “We chose Blackpool as the site for our second lodge because it has absolutely everything a child could want while on holiday, with so many activities to keep them entertained.” www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk
Tell Us Once service now available to 51 million people
The Tell Us Once service allows people to notify key local and central government departments and services of a death or birth so that they do not have to try and fight their way through government red tape when notifying a death or birth. The service continues to expand
with nearly 89 per cent of local authorities offering the service. This means that it is now available to 51 million people and even more local authorities are expected to come on board in 2013. The service is available face-to-face, by telephone or online. The death must be registered before the Tell Us Once service can be used. Tell Us Once informs up to 28 services in central and local government. One of these is the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), who use the information to update War Pensions Scheme records. The service has been successful with 316,116 people using it and 12,917 in particular have used it to make sure SPVA are informed. Further information is available at www.gov.uk/tell-us-once and follow them on Twitter @Tellusonce
Veterans service scoops national housing award
A pioneering housing and support service for homeless veterans has scooped the country’s leading housing award. The national UK Housing Awards recently chose Riverside-ECHG as their Specialist Landlord of the Year for the housing association’s Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex-Services (SPACES). Since setting up its unique partnership with the Ministry of Defence in 2000 Riverside-ECHG has assisted over 10,500 veterans overcome the hurdle of potential homelessness. SPACES is a national housing Issue 28 June 2013
advice and placement phone line which helps vulnerable single ex-Servicemen and women who are at risk of homelessness find suitable housing. Trevor Morris, Riverside’s Manager and a veteran himself said: "Prior to SPACES when I first started working in the homelessness sector I could see that there were a lot of veterans in the mainstream hostels I worked in and I knew that these guys needed targeted support. Needless to say I am delighted that our work and partnership has been nationally recognised." SPACES now provides the foundation of a national network of support run by Riverside. This includes two state-of-the-art housing, training and social enterprise centre’s based near major garrisons, in the North at Catterick and South at Aldershot, alongside an advice service based in Colchester garrison. www.spaces.org.uk
Thrive working it out The charity Thrive is looking for ex-Service personnel to join its ‘Working it Out’ programme in Battersea Park, London. Every Tuesday, Thrive’s experienced trainers work with former Service personnel in order to arm them with the skills, qualifications and experience needed for a job working outdoors. The programme is particularly suited for ex-forces’ whose lives have been affected by disability, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental ill health or the impact of alcohol or substance abuse. Benefits for participants include the chance to learn new skills and gain a City and Guilds qualification. For more information, please contact the Battersea team on 020 7720 2212. This summer, Thrive will launch a new project called Down to Earth in the Midlands and North East which has been funded by the Royal British Legion. www.thrive.org.uk
Military Work Placement Scheme extended Skills for Logistics (SfL) announced that the Military Work Placement Scheme has been extended until August 31 2013. The pilot programme enabling 1,000 funded work placements, which was formally launched by SfL and The Logistics Guild last November, was due to end on March 31. Commenting on the extension, Dr Mick Jackson, CEO of Skills for Logistics, said: “This is tremendous news for the Logistics Sector as well as for those leaving the Armed Forces who are seeking a new career. The enthusiasm with which the pilot programme has been greeted is a clear indication of the potential that the Military Work Placement Scheme has to help more men and women cross the bridge between leaving the Armed Forces and taking a role in a civilian logistics operation.” www.logisticsguild.net
A shared Purpose
Minister on fact-finding mission to Canada
Crown Copyright/MOD 2011
different from Scotland, the Canadian Government delivers a comprehensive care and support system for its veterans and the Scottish Government and Veterans Scotland have wanted to exchange ideas and learn from each As a Falklands veteran himself, Armed other’s veterans’ Forces and Veterans Minister Keith Brown care approach and is aware of the issues veterans face. systems for some “In addition, in 2008, the First time. Minister launched Scottish Veterans “By working with Garden City Association’s (SVGCA) other countries in ‘Houses for Heroes’ appeal for public this way, we can support to build 60 homes for continue to improve disabled veterans, and so far 22 of our own policy framework, to ensure these have been completed. The Scottish Government will provide up the needs and to £1.3 million grant funding to assist aspirations of with work on the remaining 38 Scotland’s Armed Exchanging ideas to support the Scottish Armed Forces homes. Seven locations across Forces community community Scotland have been identified, where are always at the these homes are most needed and Scotland’s Veterans Minister Keith centre of our policy development and SVGCA, the Scottish Government and Brown recently visited Canada to delivery.” Local Authorities are working towards find out how the Canadian He added: “I was particularly delivering these. Government is supporting its interested to visit the Princes “Our Armed Forces commitments Armed Forces community. Operation entrepreneur boot camp – paper, launched in September 2013, THE Minister, who served with 45 a charity which facilitates business sets out a whole host of other Commando during the Falklands boot camps for former Service obligations to Scottish Serving conflict , was joined on the trip by the personnel. Veterans are paired up personnel, their families, reservists, Chief Executive of umbrella body with a student ‘buddy’ to take them veterans and the bereaved and how Veterans Scotland, Colonel Martin through a business mentoring system we will continue to meet these. Gibson (Ret’d). so they can learn about the skills and “The visit to Canada was The visit was an opportunity to competencies they require to enter incredibly helpful as a way of gaining share best practice and ideas to the world of business. The men and ideas for our future policy landscape. enhance the support available to the women I met during this visit had It is only by reaching outwards to Armed Forces community in Scotland, found the programme incredibly other nations, and working in as Mr Brown explained: helpful for their transition into civilian partnership with organisations like “I was eager to find out more life. about what the Canadian government “In Scotland, we are committed to Veterans Scotland, that we will continue to develop, deliver and and Canadian Veterans organisations ensuring the needs of our veterans implement new and innovative are doing to provide for their former are met. Last year, we granted policies to support our Armed Forces Service personnel and see if we can £2.3 million towards a £6.5 million learn from this for the benefit of our project in Glasgow – Scotland’s largest Community.” own veterans. city - to build 50 homes for ex-Service Twitter @scotgovveterans “While the political landscape is personnel in the Cranhill area.
Progress Report Welsh Government firms up commitment to veterans community
Crown Copyright/MOD 2011
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Local Government and Government Business
The Welsh Government is making progress on its commitments to the Armed Forces Community
The Welsh Government’s Armed Forces Team is ensuring that the public services in Wales are meeting the needs of its veterans LAST year, the Welsh Government highlighted its Package of Support for the Armed Forces Community in Wales and outlined the commitments that have been made to support this community. During the last year, the Welsh Government has published its first Annual Report which provides an update on progress to deliver the commitments in the package. The achievements include: • The introduction of Champions for veterans and Armed Forces in every Local Health Board (LHB) and NHS Trust in Wales; • Access and support for veterans through the all-Wales Veterans Health and Well-Being Service; and • Welsh Government continues to promote awareness within Local Issue 28 June 2013
Authorities of the disregard of war disablement pensions in the means test calculations for disabled facilities grants, housing and council tax benefit. The Armed Forces Team have met with veterans in North Wales and will meet with veterans in South Wales later this year. It has worked, and continues to work, with Armed Forces representatives in Wales to encourage all 22 Local Authorities to take up the community covenant, supporting veterans locally. To date, 14 Local Authorities have signed up. During 2012, Health Inspectorate Wales undertook a review which has resulted in the establishment of veterans’ mental health clinical networks and the creation of a group which will consider the utility of establishing a residential centre for veterans in Wales. The Minister with over-arching responsibility for issues relating to the Armed Forces Community in Wales has recently changed to Lesley
Griffiths, Minister for Local Government and Government Business. The Minister meets with representatives of the Armed Forces Community on a regular basis through the Armed Forces Export Group. Veterans’ views are represented on this group through organisations which include The Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association. Looking ahead The team is now undertaking a full review of the Package of Support and are currently liaising with various representative groups to identify what the communities’ main issues and concerns are. This document will provide updates in key areas specific to the Armed Forces community, from healthcare and housing to education. It will also provide information both for veterans in Wales, and those who are considering returning to Wales, on the more general services available. They aim to publish the Package of Support during the week surrounding Armed Forces Day. Web
Veterans healthcare improvements Work continues on improving healthcare for veterans in England
The Big White Wall website
The new funding will give veterans access to the most technologically advanced prosthetics available
The Department of Health, NHS England, Service charities and others are working in partnership to build on the services that have been put in place over the past few years for veterans’ healthcare. New funding for bionic limbs Additional funding is now in place to ensure that veterans who have lost a limb as a result of their Service are able to access the best specification limbs to meet their needs. The Government has made £6.5 million available to guarantee that all Serving and former members of the Armed Forces who have been injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to have the latest technology prosthetics, where clinical conditions indicate that this is appropriate. Applications can be made via the Veteran’s Prosthetic Panel at www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/ d-com/armed-forces/veteransprosthetics/ This is in addition to the £15 million of funding put in place by the Department of Health in England to meet the needs of all veterans who have lost a limb as a result of their service to the country.
24-hour support for mental health For veterans and their families, who are suffering with mental health problems, the Big White Wall online counselling service and Combat Stress 24-hour helpline continues to provide an excellent service. Visit www.bigwhitewall.com or
Bionic knees - the next generation of micro processor knees
call 0800 138 1619 to access the 24-hour helpline. The Big White Wall service is being enhanced to improve access to its online services for those who use smartphones or tablets to access information. Veteran-focused mental health teams are now in place across the regions in England. More information on the veterans mental health services can be found on the NHS Choices website - www.nhs.uk New funding for ‘first aid’ The government has also committed almost £600,000 from the LIBOR fund – fines levied on the banks for attempting to manipulate the LIBOR interest rate – for a new mental health initiative. The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) charity, in partnership with Combat Stress, the Royal British Legion and SSAFA, will design and provide veterans-focused mental health first aid. This tool will help teach the mental health equivalent of first aid skills. The funding will be used to train 200 veterans, their families and people who support them over the next 18 months. Once trained, they will then go on to train around 6,200 members of the Armed Forces community by the summer of 2015. Editor’s note: More information on the mental health first aid can be found on page 9
New skills to combat mental health Mental health first aid training for veterans and their families
“Training veterans and their families to spot the signs that someone is suffering from mental health problems is a vital first step in them getting the help they need . . .”
The new MHFA National Training Team who will be training the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid trainers
Up to 6,400 ex-soldiers, sailors and airmen and their families will be offered training to help veterans experiencing mental health problems. VETERANS and their families, as well as members of Service charities and others who work with veterans, will be given the opportunity to go on a course to teach the mental health equivalent of first aid skills and give people the knowledge and confidence to spot the signs that someone could be suffering and support them. The course will train people to: •
spot the early signs of mental health problems;
feel confident helping someone who is experiencing a problem;
provide help on a first aid basis;
help prevent someone from hurting themselves or others;
help stop a mental health problem from getting worse;
help someone to recover faster; guide someone to the right support; and
Issue 28 June 2013
reduce the stigma of mental health problems.
them getting the help they need and talking openly about their experiences.” Poppy Jaman, CEO for Mental Health First Aid England said: “One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life but there are members of the community who are more at risk – the Armed Forces being one example. We believe that Mental Health First Aid Training is vital to ensuring that those at risk of mental illness are supported at the earliest stage. “Having more people MHFA trained will result in ex-Servicemen and women being supported and sign-posted to the correct health services, significantly increasing positive recovery.” Peter Poole, Director of Strategic Planning and Partnerships at Combat Stress said: “Mental Health First Aid Training for the Armed Forces community is another fantastic and practical tool for helping veterans access specialist care and support for their mental health needs.” Carol Smith, Assistant Director Health and Social Care for the Royal British Legion said: “Providing veterans, their families and our staff with this training is a great initiative and further demonstrates the Legion’s commitment to the whole Armed Forces community.”
The government has committed almost £600,000 from the LIBOR fund for the Community Interest Company Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, in partnership with Combat Stress, the Royal British Legion and SSAFA to design and provide the training. The funding will be used to train 200 veterans, their families and people who support them over the next 18 months, who will then go on themselves to train around 6,200 members of the Armed Forces community by the summer of 2015. Speaking at the National Veterans’ Mental Health Network conference, held in partnership with Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “We know that making the transition from a tour of duty back into civilian life can be difficult for Phone 0207 250 8062/3 some people. We are determined to ensure that care is there for those who www.mhfaengland.org Web are struggling. email firstname.lastname@example.org “Training veterans and their families to spot the signs that Facebook Mental Health First Aid England someone is suffering from mental Twitter @MHFAEngland health problems is a vital first step in
Bomber Command veteran returning to battlefield Lottery salutes one of the last Second World War RAF light bomber pilots Leslie’s derring-do has also been captured for posterity in a stunning watercolour painting ‘Friendly Smoke’ depicting the heroic flight of ‘E’ Easy by renowned artist Michael Turner. Though it wasn’t till some years later after checking his D-Day log book that Leslie realised he was the pilot immortalised in the artist’s historic depiction. He recently visited the Bomber Command Memorial in London and was invited to a private audience at 10 Downing Street, where Prime Minister David Cameron presented him with the Second World War Defence Medal. Leslie is one of many Second World War veterans who are applying for funding for a second commemorative trip under the Big Lottery Fund’s extended Heroes
picture credit Dudley Valentine
Over 50,000 Second World War veterans, widows, spouses and carers have used funding from the Heroes Return 2 scheme since 2009 and more will have the opportunity to return with the programme extended until 2015. RAF FLYING OFFICER Leslie Valentine hurtled along at 250 mph 50 feet above the D-Day Normandy shoreline, his Douglas Boston light bomber ‘E’ Easy running the gauntlet between a devastating barrage of
Leslie Valentine at the Bomber Command Memorial in London
Royal Navy gunships and German 88 heavy artillery defences. Holding his nerve the 24 year-old blazed a trail of thick smoke across the British landing beaches, shielding his comrades below from enemy view. It was a valiant mission, and one of 60 back to back operations that the plucky young pilot would carry out during the War. Called up for military service at the outbreak of war, 19-year old Leslie joined the Highland Light Infantry as a Private, but later trained as a pilot for RAF Bomber Command. Leslie joined RAF 88 Squadron 2nd Tactical Air Force, Bomber Command, carrying out mainly daylight sorties across France, sabotaging vital supply lines to disrupt transport of enemy reinforcements, such as road bridges, rail yards, road transport convoys, submarine pens and the deadly V1 rocket launching sites. Shortly to celebrate his 95th birthday, Leslie from Hethe, Oxfordshire is the only surviving of two British Servicemen to hold the revered Croix de guerre (Cross of War) with Silver Star.
picture credit Dudley Valentine
Receiving the Defence Medal from the Prime Minister
Painting of the Boston E Easy
Return 2 scheme, (open till Dec 2015) which since 2009 has awarded over £25 million to more than 52,000 Second World War veterans, widows, spouses and carers across the country for journeys in the UK, France, Germany, the Middle East, Far East and beyond. Looking forward to his Heroes Return trip to Northern France in May, Leslie said: “I think Heroes Return is a marvellous idea and I would like to thank the Fund.” Phone Web
Heroes Return helpline: 0845 00 00 121 www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/ heroesreturn
Wind in their Sails The Jubilee Sailing Trust is proud to work with Armed Forces Personnel aboard their tall ships, Lord Nelson and Tenacious.
Lord Nelson under sail
The ‘Sailing Forces’ programme integrates Service personnel into crews of up to 40 people from a wide range of ages, backgrounds and physical abilities. THE Trust passionately believe they can be of great service to wounded and recovering Servicemen and women. Its aim is to see results – people happier and more confident in their abilities after injury or in making the transition into civilian life. The tall ships have been designed and built to enable everyone from wheelchair-users and amputees, to the fully able-bodied, to be involved in every aspect of sailing the ship. All on board take part in setting the sails, helming (steering), night watches, navigation, preparing meals and cleaning the ship. Their ships are a place where people with life-altering injuries or experiences can gain a new Issue 28 June 2013
sense of their abilities within their changed circumstances. The voyage programme is varied, providing a range of options from day sails in UK waters to voyages lasting several days or weeks with visits to foreign ports. Guardsman Paul Bennett, 23, lost his leg below the knee and suffered hand injuries when an enemy bomb exploded. He said: “If anyone had told me I’d enjoy peeling spuds, you can guess what I’d have called them. But I am – this is great! What’s really important to all of us is that aboard this ship we are working in a team. That’s what we are used to in the Army…teamwork – and it is one of the things we have missed most since coming back from Afghanistan.” “The experience those Guardsmen gained from their sailing expedition was immeasurable and taught them
Credit Jubilee Sailing Trust
All on board take part in setting the sails
that although they may have lost limbs, there is still much that they can achieve in life. It was also a wonderful break for them which is just as important.” said David Sage – fundraiser for the Coldstream Guards. Marine Jamie Jowett said, “This is the best week we have had since we returned from Afghanistan.” “Sailing with the Jubilee Sailing Trust is a special experience, no matter what your physical disability; you are all classed the same while on board. I really enjoyed interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds and I wouldn’t hesitate to go on board again. ” said Kyle Baker of the Rifles, injured while serving in Afghanistan.
Tenacious with reflection
023 8042 6849
Behind the scarlet coat New lease of life at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Paddy Teegan putting practice in the hospital grounds
In the heart of Chelsea lies a community that’s reaching out to veterans. YOU may recognise Chelsea Pensioners as the men and women in scarlet coats but there’s more than just a uniform. Veterans WORLD has been invited behind the scenes of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to see what life is really like for Chelsea Pensioners. Colonel Simon Bate OBE, Adjutant Royal Hospital Chelsea, is a very busy man. He’s introducing and supporting key changes at the Royal Hospital, not an easy task while ensuring the needs of over 200 Chelsea Pensioners (aged between 65 and 102) are met. He explained: “We have three areas of change across the Royal Hospital; infrastructure and modernisation, ‘giving back’ to the Armed Forces and our local communities and developing ways to become more financially independent. “Our modernisation started with the build of our infirmary and the introduction of women pensioners several years ago. Now, work continues on the replacement of our historic long wards by modern ‘berths’ which include en-suite facilities, internet and digital TV access. “It is a huge cultural change to our pensioners to move to the modern accommodation. The long wards provided them with great social interaction that we don’t want to lose as they move, so it presents a challenge to ensure they still integrate and don’t become isolated but it is equally important that we move forward into the 21st century as this modernisation programme allows. “We feel very lucky at the Hospital. Our pensioners are very much at the heart of an extended family with their every need met. We felt it was time that we ‘gave back’ to the Armed Forces Community, so we developed outreach programmes where our pensioners go out and provide support to others less fortunate.
“In our local community we support a night shelter providing meals and accomodation to the homeless alongside our support to other Service welfare charities who include the ABF - The Soldiers’ Charity, the Royal British Legion and SSAFA. “In this current economic climate, we are keen to share resources and work together with other organisations supporting the Armed Forces Community. We have three projects that our pensioners are involved in: visits to Service personnel at Tedworth House, talks to ex-Service prisoners at HMP Wormwood Scrubs and support to ‘Veterans Aid’ and their hostel in the East End of London. Our pensioners really enjoy the outreach work and it shows that you are never too old to get involved. We are now developing respite care services in co-ordination with SSAFA and hope to introduce this later in the year.” Financial independence is important, as Col Bate added: “We receive a large annual grant from the MOD towards running costs and are looking at ways we can generate income from the Hospital’s assets. However, we need to ensure that there is a balance, that we can recoup money while ensuring that there are no risks to the pensioners as it is their home. Some of our pensioners can be vulnerable so we need to take a realistic and sensible approach to
establish financial benefits without detriment to their life here.” There are misconceptions about how to become a Chelsea Pensioner that may be stopping eligible veterans from applying. The eligibility changed five years ago; while all must have served in the Army, there is no longer a minimum length of Service required. It’s not essential for a pensioner to receive an Armed Forces pension either. During recent years, the Hospital has welcomed its first National Servicemen as in-Pensioners, so there is a real variety of Servicemen and women living at the hospital today; from the Second World War veterans to those who have served in more recent conflicts. Col Bate told Veterans WORLD: “Some people think that the pensioners are still in the Army and that life here is really regimented. It’s simply not the case; the only requirement is that our pensioners attended the annual Founders Day, which is attended by a member of the Royal Family or a senior dignitary. The Hospital is their home, they are free to walk outside its walls, go on holiday and visit with their families and friends. We’ve created a safe environment where pensioners can get involved in as little or as much of the daily activities as they want. Dispelling the myths surrounding the Hospital will help reinforce to
The impressive building of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Issue 28 June 2013
The modern Chelsea Pensioner
veterans and their families that we are here and can help. “We are providing a safe and gentle environment which is part of our ethos and this starts with the pensioners. The first line of support is the pensioners themselves, offering comradeship and they really do step in and offer support to each other and raise concerns with us if they think someone is struggling. Being at the Hospital can alleviate pressure on the pensioner and family; sometimes they feel a burden or the family worry about their care and we step in to help in a caring and supportive way.” During the visit, Veterans WORLD had the chance to talk to some of the Chelsea Pensioners to find out what life at the Hospital was like for them... Marjorie Cole, 68, has been taking part in the Hospital’s outreach programme for the past 18 months “I always think it could have been me if I hadn’t been here, it can happen to anybody. PTSD, marriage breakdowns, drink and drug problems, homelessness; they’ve turned to Veterans Aid and it’s given them their life back, it’s fantastic. When I go there, I just sit and chat to them, we don’t talk about their problems, it’s mostly for camaraderie. “I joined up in 1961, and served in various places including Aldershot, Northern Ireland and Singapore. I had to have a couple of back operations
“It was like coming home coming back to the Army.” and was medically discharged in 1977, and it felt like my life had finished.” In civilian life, Marjorie’s back problems continued, affecting her employment and she suffered from depression. After nursing both her mum and sister through terminal illness, she again struggled with depression as she thought everyone she loved she had lost. When she heard that the Chelsea Hospital was taking in women she’d never dreamt that she would have chance to become a Chelsea Pensioner. After applying, she came for the four-day trial visit in January 2009. “I knew as soon as I came through the gates. There was a warmth. Everybody greeted you . . . It was like coming home - coming back to the Army.” Marjorie arrived at the hospital the day after her 65th Birthday – she was the third lady Chelsea Pensioner to join, there are now six in total and there are plans for increasing this number once the new en-suite accomodation comes on stream in January 2014. “It’s the best thing I ever did. Life began again for me when I was 65. I’ve no worries. If I’d been out there now, like the majority of pensioners, I’d be worrying whether I ‘heat or eat’. I’ve never looked back and it’s given me assurance that I know someone is looking after me. “You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want but I like to use my brain and it’s a way of giving something back to the Army, because they gave me so much. I go to Belvedere House and help out with the homeless; it’s a way of giving something back to Chelsea.” For veterans who have never heard of the Hospital or their family
The Chelsea Pensioners have been the subject of many artists and photographers
who might be worried about looking after them, Marjorie has this to say: “Your family would have relief knowing that you’re well looked after and they would have no worries whatsoever. Medical care – you don’t have to wait like you do outside…I’ve had very good medical care since I’ve been here, no worries about bills and food. You’ve all got something in common, you’ve all served, you’re totally relaxed – I’d recommend it.” We asked what it felt like to wear that Scarlet coat. “I’m proud to wear the Queen’s uniform again, it gives you respect, people respect you again. You feel so proud and it gives you confidence. “ Brian Cumming MBE, 81, a former Army Families Welfare Officer, has been a Chelsea Pensioner for three years. He applied to the Hospital after his wife of 58 years died. He said: “My wife died four years ago. We’d discussed what would happen if I was left and I said I would apply to become a Chelsea Pensioner. I never thought any more about it. When she died, I stayed at home for a year and I thought this was no good as she’d been with me all those years and travelled the world with me, so I got the information and thought let’s see what its all about. I came for the fourday visit and as soon as I walked through the gates I knew this is where
I should be. It has that effect on you, it’s not for everyone, there are some guys who’ve always been loners and it’s a very close community here, you could quite easily become isolated if that’s what you want but if you want to join in there’s plenty to do and the camaraderie is fantastic.” Being a Chelsea Pensioner keeps Brian busy . . . “I was a Tour Guide for the National Trust and now I’m a Hospital Tour Guide as well as its photographer. I’m given various projects currently I’m taking shots of the Chelsea Flower Show; the buildup and when the flower’s start coming in. “My daily routine is the usual; get up and have breakfast. If I’ve got a tour they are usually either 10.30 until 12.00 or 1.30 until 4.00. The rest of the time I find myself sorting things on the PC with the camera or finding out what’s available in the City – it’s a tremendous place if you’ve never lived here, there’s so much to do…I love going and looking at all the different markets. “They say you get at least an extra seven years life expectancy living here. Our eldest In-Pensioner is a chap called Joe Britton – he is 102 years old and if you met him you would not
Health and well-being is important for the Pensioners, the pensioner pictured has lost over four stone with support from the onsite Physiotherapist
think that at all, he’s a very agile man, he lives on the second floor and will not use the lift! “The rest of my time is trekking around London, taking photographs and tending to the projects running here. I also run the camera club. “You can go anywhere in the world knowing that you’ve got somewhere to come back to. It really is a great place if you want it to be, it’s how you make it.” Putting on the scarlet coat gives him a sense of pride. “It makes you feel extremely proud, very privileged, you are representing hundreds of years of Service to the Crown and Constitution and that’s how it affects me. As soon as you put that scarlet on it’s great you’re back in the Service again, back with your colleagues it makes a great difference.” Michael Fennell, 85, has been a Chelsea Pensioner since 2010. He joined up in 1942 as a Boy Apprentice at the Army Technical School. “When I graduated, I wanted more money and to get my knees brown, so I did paratrooper training and was sent to Palestine in 1947. I stayed until it became Israel in 1948.” After years in the Army, he left and worked as a technical translator for Volkswagen in Germany, retiring at 65. Issue 28 June 2013
“We came back to England when Paddy Teegan, 69, is a relatively my wife became ill and I was her new Chelsea Pensioner who arrived in carer. She died of Alzheimer’s in 2010, December 2012. then I came here the same year.” Joining the Army in 1962, Paddy Loneliness was the key reason was posted to various locations from why he joined the Hospital. “I didn’t Bicester to Singapore, Borneo to want to live on my own. I was Germany. Signing up for Long Service thinking about coming here because meant he stayed on until he was 55. an old friend of mine – George - from After leaving the Army in December my paratrooper days was here, and 1996, he had a gap year to play golf then I saw another friend Fred was and then became a MOD Civil Servant, here – we were in the same room on retiring as a civil servant in 2007. boy service, I’ve known him since 1942. A life change made the decision “A lot of people think that you for Paddy to become a Chelsea have to have done at least 20 years in Pensioner. the Army to come here, and that’s not the case any more it’s been changed “I got divorced. I’d known about and now we’ve even got a couple of the Chelsea Hospital for a long time National Service lads - and why not and always said that if my life and ladies have come, we’ve got six of changed this is what I would do and them now! that’s what I’ve done. I don’t regret it “One of my friends, who was in one bit – it’s an absolutely marvellous the same intake as me in October place to be. 1942 said he wouldn’t mind coming “The activities on offer here here but he said I’d never get in I only money cannot buy. For instance, I was did eight years and that was what we a step-liner on Lady Thatcher’s thought. We all believed you had to funeral…I’ve been all over the place.” do 22 years and now he’s arriving Paddy is fully involved in the next week to do his four days. So activities on offer from tending one of there’ll be three of us who joined as the allotments to creating a putting boys over 70 years ago. green in the Hospital’s grounds. “I like to go on the Military events, “Golf is my thing…the Governor’s anything with a parade attached. wife opened my putting green, Since I’ve been here, I’ve been to the designed from scratch, last week. It’s Isle of Wight to celebrate VE Day, for all Pensioners’ and all staff and I’ve taken part in the Remembrance Day got the golf team going as well. parade at Whitehall. Last year, I went “There’s everything here that to the Somme battlefield where my anyone might want; there’s facilities uncle was killed on the first day and here that people dream about.” saw his name on the memorial there. The scarlet coat is a matter of “This place is the best retirement pride to Paddy . . . home in the whole of bloomin’ “You’re very proud, you don’t Europe. This place is definitely the think you’re back in uniform but you tops and I would recommend it to any stand out, you’re different and people old soldier. The care is excellent; we do respect you, there’s no doubt are completely free to do as we like – about it, just like when you’re in you’ve just got to be 65, free of any uniform in the Army.” encumbrance, no legal responsibility for anybody and you’ve served in the Phone 0207 8815204 Army.” So what does it mean for Michael www.chelsea-pensioners.org.uk Web when he puts on the scarlet coat? “What does it mean for me? Like www.facebook.com/ coming back home – it’s great, it’s Facebook Royal Hospital Chelsea wonderful. My children, grandchildren and my great-grandchildren are all Twitter @RHChelsea chuffed!”
From mess room to classroom Veterans inspiring young people to succeed
SkillForce’s work complements schools’ existing curriculums
Many Service leavers want their next job to make a difference, be fulfilling and retain that sense of service so engrained in the Armed Forces. ONE charity, SkillForce, has made this possible for over ten years by forming a bridge for ex-Service personnel from the mess and ward room to the classroom. Peter Cross, Chief Executive of SkillForce, said: “Our charity sees itself as a valuable bridge between the Armed Forces and the education sector. “We have established strong working relationships with the Ministry of Defence, Department for Education, Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion over many years. We have become the trusted link.” SkillForce has employed over 600 ex-Service personnel since it was founded, including wounded, injured and sick personnel. It is an approved provider for Career Transition Partnerships and Enhanced Learning Credits. Rob Shearing, Development Director at SkillForce, said: “Our mission is to inspire young people to succeed by working in partnership schools and drawing on skills and experiences of ex-Service personnel. More than 70 per cent of SkillForce instructors are ex-Service.”
“It really is the best feeling when – during the course – you see the students take on more and more and succeed.” SkillForce started life in 2000 as a pilot through the Ministry of Defence. Now, the charity works with over 3,500 young people each year in 191 schools across England, Scotland and Wales. Under the motto ‘Engage, Prepare, Develop,’ the charity, whose Royal Patron is The Duke of Cambridge, makes a difference in three ways: bringing the hardest-toreach young people back into the fold; engaging those who need a more tailored approach and helping them find next steps in education, work or training; and preparing children for the all-important step from primary to secondary education. The charity also has a ‘Military to Mentor’ programme which is proving to be a valuable route for Service leavers into the education sector. Antony McDonald, a SkillForce instructor now working in East London explained: “I got into SkillForce through the Military to Mentors scheme. I had served my
Inspiring young people to succeed
country as a vehicle mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and decided that I wanted a new challenge. “In SkillForce, many of us have a similar background to our students, which helps. It really is the best feeling when – during the course – you see the students take on more and more and succeed.” Web
Facebook SkillForce Twitter @SkillForceUK www.youtube.com/ Youtube user/skillforceorg
What do you know about veterans? New training course launched for advisors
York St John University
York St John University has launched a new one-day training course for staff who are already working with, or aiming to develop better veterans, reservists and dependants identification and interventions support into their service provision. THE programme is facilitated by Nick Wood, a veteran who received The Butler Trust HRH Princess Royal Award in 2010 for his work developing the Veterans In Custody Support model. The course provides an in-depth understanding into veterans, reservists and dependants issues, and demonstrates how a range of costeffective identification, support interventions and resources can be successfully incorporated into present service processes. The training encourages community teams to be more effective and efficient when engaging with this group.
of Contact member of staff which facilitates vital liaison between service providers and ex-Armed Forces charities creating a network of support and information; •
An in-depth understanding into the culture of the Armed Forces, how this can impact on positive engagement and what effect this can have on accessing services available to them;
A greater understanding of the issues facing ex–Service personnel when transitioning out of the Armed Forces and back into civilian life;
Priority Healthcare and Mental Health care provision;
Incorporating support services into HR and Occupational Health to support staff in the workplace who are veterans, reservists or dependants; and
Armed Forces and Community Covenants.
The course content includes: •
How to identify this client group at the earliest opportunity and collect vital data; The benefits of an identified Point Issue 28 June 2013
The programme fills the gap in providing a generic Veterans
Awareness training package for community-based teams, which supports the Armed Forces and Community Covenants. It has received extremely positive feedback from people working in the NHS, Occupational Health, Mental Health, Substance Misuse, Criminal Justice, exService charities, Local Authorities, and Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT): “Very well presented. Opportunity to ask questions—sharing of information. Excellent presentation of information and hand-outs to enable me to liaise with others for advice and support. Very insightful.” “Interaction between participants was very powerful. Presenter was very knowledgeable and supportive on imparting knowledge and information” The University will be working with Nick to build on the success of the Veterans Awareness programme to provide a comprehensive training package, suitable for all levels of professional clinical staff within the NHS. Phone
A perfect transition solution Newcastle veterans to benefit from new ‘Launch pad’ The development will breathe new life into the very heart of the Byker community and demonstrates the optimism and improvements that are being brought to the whole estate through a £24.5 million programme of work. Refurbishment has already started on Avondale House and residents will be able to occupy the House later this year.
The Byker Estate
The Byker Community Trust (BCT) has been awarded a prestigious £250,000 Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant to help refurbish Avondale House in Newcastle to provide homes for veterans in the region. AVONDALE HOUSE can be found in the heart of the Byker Estate, Newcastle and is within walking distance of the city centre. It comprises of 34 one bedroom self-contained flats, with communal areas and facilities that will be let at affordable rates to Armed Forces veterans. Supported by additional funding of £690,000 from BCT, the House will create the perfect environment for a smooth transition to civilian life. Support from public and private sector organisations in Newcastle has already been offered, if required, to help residents find jobs, houses and training. When opened, the House will provide veterans with affordable and comfortable accommodation that they will rent, in the centre of The House is managed as the charity Armed Forces and Veterans Launchpad (known as Launchpad) on leasehold from the Byker Community Trust
Newcastle. From here, they can get involved with and contribute to the local community. The residents will be able to use the House for up to two years out of the Services. Utilising the support provided, it is expected that veterans will be in a position to establish alternative accommodation elsewhere in the city to match their employment and personal circumstances. Whether they opt to re-train or to seek employment, there are plenty of opportunities for veterans; there are even opportunities and premises for business start-ups on the Byker Estate. Avondale House will have a resident manager, most probably ex-Service too, who will provide necessary links for residents to other agencies, as well as being responsible for the smooth running of the House. Anyone who has served in the Armed Forces is eligible to become a resident, but a straightforward selection process will be set in place, if demand outstrips supply. The priority will be given to people just leaving the Services and some of the first residents are expected to be Early Service Leavers who will have been under the guidance of the Future Horizons Project.
BCT and AFV Estates could not have started Project Launchpad without the help of many partners including: The Future Horizons’ Programme, Your Homes Newcastle, Newcastle City Council, NHS (North of Tyne), Building Futures East, About Turn, Job Centre Plus, Norcare, local suppliers and contractors, North East Chamber of Commerce, Regular Forces Employment Association, Regional Forces, Reserve Forces and Cadets Association and the Career Transition Programme.
Facilities at Avondale House include a TV lounge, games area, IT suite, laundry, large garden/patio area with pond and conservatory.
Applications: FREEPHONE 0300 11 11 238 General information and media enquiries: 015446 870 375 email@example.com
Handy service for veterans Legion helps maintain the homes of the Armed Forces Community
Poppy Calls Fitter Seb Hayes
“Over nine million people in the UK can call on the Legion’s support.”
Last year, Poppy Calls helped over 5,000 people
If veterans are having trouble with small household repairs or minor adaptations around the home, then The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Calls service may be able to help. POPPY CALLS offers a trusted, secure, high quality service which Issue 28 June 2013
helps members of the Armed Forces community live independent lives and stay in their own homes longer in old age. The initiative is offered to beneficiaries who qualify for assistance from The Royal British Legion, which includes those who have served in the
Armed Forces, and their widows or dependents. In addition to the valued maintenance service provided by Poppy Calls, all staff are case worker trained, and will assess a beneficiary’s needs to ensure they get the help and support they need. The service has a number of dedicated fitters across the country, although it is advisable to check whether your particular location is covered by the service, or a Partner Agency working with the Legion. The Legion’s National Poppy Calls Manager, Russell Rolph said: “Over nine million people in the UK can call on the Legion’s support. Some of these people can find it difficult to keep up home maintenance over time or find they need adaptions following injury or illness to maintain the lifestyle they once did in their own homes, and that’s when Poppy Calls steps in.” In 2012, Legion Fitters assisted over 5,000 people across the country. Phone Web
0800 032 0306 www.britishlegion.org.uk
A unique partnership The canine partners helping veterans gain independence
Canine Partners in training
Ressie â€œSailor has enabled me to have a life again and opens doors for me in more ways than one.â€?
Launched in 1990, national charity Canine Partners has been training dogs to transform the lives of people with disabilities, including Service personnel and veterans. THE ‘canine partners’ are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and shutting doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency. Independence assured Eileen Hobson (62) was a Warrant Officer in the Army from 1968 to 1983, when she fell ill and was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition known as Stiffman’s Syndrome. After 20 years in hospital, she finally came home and realised how much her life had changed. After applying to Canine Partners, Eileen was matched with Sailor. “He is a gorgeous and very intelligent golden retriever who has enabled me to regain not a little, but a great deal of independence and confidence,” she said. “Nowadays, when I need help with any tasks 'My Boy' does it for me - picks up dropped items, pays for me in shops, opens and closes doors, as soon as the mail arrives Sailor gets it and brings it to me. He can empty my washing machine and carry pegs outside for me. He gets items off shop shelves for me and, as I can’t get through the doorway of my butchers I wait outside while Sailor goes in, pays, and brings my meat out. Sailor has enabled me to have a life again and opens doors for me in more ways than one. He hasn’t changed my life – he’s given me a life. With him by my side, my future happiness, independence and confidence is assured” New found confidence Jon Flint (37) dreamed of being a Royal Marine, and realised that dream in 1994. He served for 13 years with operational tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. During an exercise on the Isle of Skye in 1996, Issue 28 June 2013
Jon fell around 30 feet while abseiling at night. In 2006, he left the Corps for personal reasons, two years later he started to get back pain. After two major surgeries he was finally diagnosed as having a broken back caused by the fall. When things got worse, Jon began to hate leaving the house. He explained: “As I am over six feet tall and walk upright, a lot of people don’t see my walking stick, and one of the symptoms of my injuries is that I have poor balance, so if people knock into me it won’t take much to make me fall. People don’t necessarily realise I’m disabled, but I can be very vulnerable when I’m out among crowds. I’m in pain all the time and have to take a lot of heavy medication, which really slows me down and can make me forgetful. My life now is a choice between pain or being alert enough to function properly.”
Sailor doing the shopping
It was at this point that Jon, from West Sussex, contacted Canine Partners, who are based just ten minutes away from him. After visiting the training centre, suddenly the opportunity of having a fully trained dog became a reality. Jon finally went home with his new canine partner – a black flat-coated retriever called Varick - in December 2011. One of Varick’s main roles is to steady Jon when he is out and about. He has also been trained to fetch Jon’s walking stick, and anything else that he might drop. Jon takes up the story: “Varick, whose name I have since found out is old German for ‘leader who defends’ which I think is quite apt for an ex-Marine, has changed my life since we were partnered. I know I now have the confidence to go out on my own
Jon and Varick
again. He also helps me with small tasks that most people (including me before my disabilities) would take for granted, like picking up keys if I drop them or even just picking up a pair of shoes. I now feel a great deal more relaxed. “It’s amazing what a difference Varick makes – people see him in his purple jacket and give me more space. And you can’t put a price on how people respond to my disability now, thanks to him. Instead of talking about my injuries, which can be very negative for me, I have lovely conversations with people about Varick and how he helps me, and that is all very positive. “Although I know that I will never be able to lead the active life that I lived before Varick has helped to show me that I can still be independent not having to rely on family and friends to help me do simple things. Although my life is different now, my disabilities need not necessarily be a bar to achieving what I want in life.” Phone 08456 580480 Web
Facebook www.facebook.com/caninepartners Twitter @canine_partners Youtube www.youtube.com/user/ ukcaninepartners
Practice makes perfect Unique project for veterans run by Liverpool arts charity.
The VIP group working on their documentary with the Battle of the Atlantic veterans
Veterans in Practice, known as VIP, was developed by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) for the Liverpool Veterans Project, a support and advice service for ex-Service people adjusting to civilian life. Liverpool Football Club and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) are two of the organisations backing its work. VIP is the only group of its kind in Europe engaging veterans through new media and digital art. The group meets weekly, and members – ranging in age from 23 to 73 and including men and women – have learned about and created a range of works in photography, animation, IT and writing, the results of which have gone on to form exhibitions and be shown in public. While many come for the social side, VIP has enabled others with the confidence to job hunt and has even helped some members find employment. Some of the work the group has produced has included a photographic exhibition with ex-soldier and acclaimed photographer, Stuart Griffiths. Other
members of VIP have recently worked on documentary films, with subjects including the Battle of the Atlantic as part of the 70th anniversary commemorations in Liverpool this year; and Alternative Sceptics, addressing issues of stress and anxiety among the veterans community. Other new activities include a regular free film club and a ‘Bike Buddy’ project, that will pair up visually impaired veterans with sighted veterans, who will work with an artist to create cycle routes around Liverpool, recording soundscapes to download. FACT has also secured funding from the MOD’s Community Covenant Grant Scheme to create the Digital Veterans initiative; offering digital training packages for veterans who will help to develop the project’s own website, offering a creative platform for veterans all over the world. Group member Brett Squires is an ex-soldier who found himself homeless upon leaving the army in 2003. “Taking part in the project has
A photo from last year’s Veterans in Practice exhibition
been great,” he said. “It gives me something to focus on and I always look forward to coming here. It is important to hang around with other ex-soldiers. When I left the Forces, there was nothing out there and it’s only recently that there has been more support for veterans that need it. I have loved doing the photography and learning about IT is helpful for job hunting.” Web
Facebook www.facebook.com/FACTliverpool Twitter @FACT_Liverpool
First contact day success Co-ordinating support in South West Scotland
Jayne Moore, Director of Housing Services at DGHP; Colours Sergeant Iain Grant; Rab Wight, Head of Repairs and Maintenance at DGHP and Fred Murray, Chair of Customer Services at DGHP at the recent First Contact day.
In Dumfries and Galloway, a third party organisation made up of numerous partners and charitable bodies exists called ‘First Contact’, a group set up to help of ex-Servicemen and women in the south west of Scotland. THE group held an open day for former Servicemen and women in Dumfries town centre on Wednesday April 17, at the Cairndale Hotel in the town. The day was a chance for local people who have served in the forces to come along and meet staff from the British Legion Scotland, SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association), the NHS, the local authority and Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP), a local housing group who pioneered an Armed Forces policy which gives direct and priority route to Servicemen and women leaving the forces. The First Contact group was first set up to help co-ordinate all the voluntary agencies that provide help Issue 28 June 2013
and support to the Service and ex-Service community across Dumfries and Galloway. The day was organised with the help of Veterans Scotland and saw many people come from all over the region to meet with some of the organisations in place to help them settle back into civilian life successful. The day was also set to be the date for a homecoming parade for 1st Battalian The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1SCOTS) who had been serving in Afghanistan, but the parade has been rescheduled for June 17. The information day was eagerly anticipated by many in Dumfries and Galloway and was heralded as a great success by First Contact Chairman, Councillor Archie Dryburgh. Archie said: “What a fantastic informative day we had. Veterans Scotland came along to talk about their ‘four pillars’: comradeship; homes; employment and health. And with the help of partner agencies, the
four pillars have come to life. “We’ve had some really positive and inspirational people talk here today and I hope the Servicemen and women who came along were able to take some support and advice away from the day – medical, financial or simply practical. He added: “This event has spring boarded another event. We are planning to hold an open market place of stalls and information stands at the Railway Club in Dumfries on Armed Forces Day on June 29. “There will be a parade on Armed Forces Day followed by another information session which I hope will be just as successful as this one. We would be delighted to see anyone who can make the event there on the day.” If you would like more information on the First Contact group or would like to sign up for the next open day on Armed Forces day, please contact DGHP’s Customer Service Centre on 0800 011 3447 (Freephone).
Last of the keys handed over Erskine completes final phase of four-year cottages project
Veteran George Mackie (centre) receives the key to his new cottage from Lt Col Steve Conway (left) and Eric Clark
The Scottish veterans’ charity Erskine has marked the end of a four-year programme to rebuild the veterans’ cottages on its estate in Bishopton, Renfrewshire. THE programme began in 2009 with the aim of replacing its occupied cottages, built in the 1940s, with 44 new homes that have a guaranteed shelf life of 60 years. The completion of the project, carried out by Mactaggart & Mickel Contracts, means that all cottage residents have been re-housed in modern accommodation that meets the standards and principles of housing for varying needs. Veterans Frank Brogan and George Mackie received keys to their new homes from Erskine Chief Executive, Steve Conway, and Erskine Trustee, Eric Clark, signalling the completion of the fifth and final phase of the project. The cottages provide barrier free access to the front and back doors, level access and wet floor shower rooms. Environmentally friendly in their construction, the cottages have breathing wall timber frames, recycled newspaper insulation and
Veteran Frank Brogan (centre) receives the key to his new home from Lt Col Steve Conway and Eric Clark
‘A’ rated condensing boilers. This is all aimed at keeping fuel bills low and reducing carbon emissions. Accommodation sizes vary with room for families of between two and six people. The new cottages provide dining kitchens, good levels of storage with built in wardrobes in all bedrooms and living rooms with large windows to maximise the amount of sunlight. A whole house ventilation system provides fresh, filtered air into each room. Lt Col Steve Conway, Chief Executive of Erskine, said: “We are delighted to hand over the keys of the final two cottages of Phase 5 of our redevelopment programme. The new cottages provide bright, easy to maintain and fuel efficient
“The new cottages provide bright, easy to maintain and fuel efficient accommodation which will certainly enhance the lives of our cottagers.” accommodation which will certainly enhance the lives of our cottagers. “For all the donations from our dedicated supporters which have made this possible, we are truly grateful; such an ambitious construction programme would not have been possible without them. I would like to thank everyone involved in the four-year build programme in particular Mactaggart & Mickel for completing the build to such a high standard.” The veterans’ charity Erskine provides care for 1,075 veterans each year across Scotland. Phone Web
The new Erskine cottages on the Bishopton Estate
0141 812 1100 www.erskine.org.uk.
The regular feature providing you with updates SPVA News from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency SPVA Hub gets Chelsea Postcode Plans are in development to launch a SPVA Welfare Hub in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Hub will provide a base for Veterans Welfare officers to work and meet with veterans needing advice and help, as well as the Chelsea Pensioners. Jon Parkin, Head of Veterans Services, explained: “We’ve had a fantastic offer to work in the beautiful Royal Hospital Chelsea and the benefits of being situated at the heart of London speak for themselves. Most importantly, the central location will benefit veterans wanting to meet us face-to-face for advice. The surroundings and the hub being located at the heart of this wonderful community at the Royal Hospital will provide a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for visiting veterans. “Working in partnership with The Royal Hospital, to ensure the needs of the Chelsea Pensioners are met, is a great way to show how we can meet the Armed Forces Covenant and pave the way to support future generations of the Armed Forces.” SPVA on the One Show The Medals Office was asked by the BBC’s One Show for their help on a piece about Second World War Historical Medals and how today, some 60 years on they are still being claimed. The Medal Office still receives over 200 Historic Medal Applications a month; this number has significantly increased with the recent announcement regarding the new Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp. The One Show’s Dan Snow visited Imjin Barracks, Gloucester to find out all about the medal assessment process. He was amazed to see that only one person assesses Second World War medal applications for each Service; the assessors have a wealth of knowledge and painstakingly go over individual’s hand written Issue 28 June 2013
Dan Snow recording part of the segment to camera against an Artillery piece at Imjin barracks
Service records to ensure eligibility for each medal. The segment aired in April during which the Medal Office, in conjunction with the show, were pleased to present medals to a veteran who was claiming his Second World War medals for the first time, some 67 years after his Service.
information on the services SPVA provides including the Veterans-UK Helpline and pension and compensation schemes. SPVA also works closely with charities and other ex-Service organisations which provide dedicated help to veterans. The following leaflets are also available:
New SPVA Leaflets now available SPVA recognises and places great importance on ensuring its customers are aware of the full range of services that SPVA provides. To do this, a number of leaflets are now in circulation and available on request. If you require leaflets for resource purposes, then email firstname.lastname@example.org The most recent leaflet launched is the Veterans Services leaflet - A Guide to Veterans Services. This is a veteransfocused leaflet and gives more
A Guide to the Veterans Welfare Service;
A Guide to the Ministry of Defence Medals Office; and
A Guide to the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre.
If you require copies, drop an email to email@example.com
STOP PRESS SPVA staff will be attending some of the Armed Forces Day events planned across the UK. To find out more, visit www.veterans-uk.info
Time to celebrate Get ready for Armed Forces Day 2013
Memphis the military working dog is supporting Armed Forces Day
With just weeks to go, preparations are in full swing ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday June 29. THE fifth Armed Forces Day is gearing up to be the biggest and best yet. This year the city of Nottingham has been chosen to host the national event, when organisers hope to top the 60,000-strong crowds that turned out in Plymouth last year. The aim of Armed Forces Day is to honour the contribution of military personnel past and present and gives the nation an opportunity to show support and thank the men and women who serve. And now, with Armed Forces Day just weeks away, people are getting fully involved in the preparations across the UK. Major David Falconer is masterminding Armed Forces Day in the strategic marketing communications team of MOD’s Directorate of Media and Communication, and he’s confident that it’s become a firm fixture in the national calendar.
The celebrations also complement the ethos of the Armed Forces Community Covenant which encourages towns to show their support for troops who live locally. Major Falconer said: "Military operations take place across the world, they’re so high-profile, it’s helped promote Armed Forces Day tremendously, so when it comes to celebrating, people know there’s a good reason why – because these guys are deployed 365-days-a-year." The curtain-raiser in Nottingham is on June 24 when a military parachute display team will drop into the grounds of Wollaton Hall to launch a week of Armed Forces Day activities in Nottingham. There will be a day of celebrations on June 29, with a parade and Drumhead Service in the city centre, together with a whole programme of activities at the city’s Victoria Embankment, featuring a Red Arrows and Typhoon flypast, and dynamic displays by Royal Marine Commandos
using the adjacent River Trent. Throughout the UK, the day will be marked with family-themed events including parades, pageants, aerial displays and various other performances. In London the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich will be hosting one of the UK’s largest events, with historical re-enactments, animal displays, fairground rides, stunt car shows and birds of prey demonstrations. While Manchester’s ‘big thank you’ will comprise an afternoon of live music, dancing and a veterans’ parade. With momentum growing, Armed Forces Day has already garnered 1.2 million Facebook followers, while celebrity supporters Carol Vorderman, Andy Murray and David Beckham are expected to tweet their support. Among the VIPs lending their support will be royalty and politicians, though, at this stage, names are being kept under wraps. National Express is also supporting Armed Forces Day. The UK’s largest coach operator currently offers a travel discount for all serving personnel, with 60 per cent off journeys booked online, enabling people to take advantage of affordable travel to the national event in Nottingham. Clothing companies, fast food restaurants, sports firms and Thorpe Park will also run special offers for troops, veterans and their families. Organisers are also keen to encourage people to hold their own events. Major Falconer said: "I expect Nottingham to lead the way for the UK in supporting Armed Forces Day. I hope that everyone joins in!"
Web Facebook Twitter
www.armedforcesday.org.uk www.facebook.com/ armedforcesday @ArmedForces_Day
Building a civilian career Ex-Service personnel could benefit from career opportunities in construction. An initiative launched is set to fill widening skills gaps in the UK construction and built environment sector by drawing on the knowledge and expertise of ex-Service personnel. DEVELOPED by CITB-ConstructionSkills in partnership with the MOD’s Career Transition Partnership, the initiative is designed to better inform ex-Service personnel of career opportunities in the sector, while also encouraging construction and built environment employers of all sizes to recruit from this pipeline of talent. Based on research published in a CITB-ConstructionSkills’ Construction Skills Network report, as many as 29,050 construction workers will be required by 2017 if the industry is to keep up with demand. With as many as 20,000 Service leavers currently coming on to the civilian job market every year, the initiative hopes to harness the transferable skills of some of these ex-Service personnel in order to fill gaps in some of the major construction trades, including bricklaying, roofing and scaffolding, plus wider project management needs across the sector. The transition from the Armed Forces to civilian life has been seamless for Oliver Turner, thanks to his transferable skills that have opened up opportunities in the construction industry. Oliver, 27, from Colchester, served in the Royal Engineers from 2005 until 2011. Before joining up, he had begun a career in the construction industry as a carpenter, but decided to join the army to challenge himself and develop his skills. Oliver served in Canada, Iraq, Afghanistan and Cyprus. He seized the many training and development opportunities the Army has to offer, and developed not only his carpentry, but also his electrical skills. After six years Oliver left the Issue 28 June 2013
The transferable skills of ex-Service personnel could fill gaps in some of the major construction trades.
Army to look for a new challenge and decided to return to the construction industry. With the skills that he had developed during his time in the Royal Engineers, such as leadership, he was in a great position to benefit from the opportunities available to skilled tradesmen in the construction industry. After taking advantage of the further training on offer in the Army, Oliver initially worked as self-employed carpenter, before deciding to return to working with large teams on bigger projects. Oliver currently works as a construction manager for Lend Lease in London. He said: “The work I did in
the Army and the work I am doing in the civilian construction industry have many similarities, with many of the same structures and processes in place.” He continued: “Returning to construction was the natural choice for me, and gives me a chance to use all the skills I picked up in the Armed Forces.” Phone Web Twitter
the Central Employment Team 0121 236 0058 www.cskills.org www.ctp.org.uk twitter.com/citb_uk
Get ready for Armed Forces Day 2013 - see page 26