of the county’s population has connections with the military.
How we Started
The HVSC was as result of Veteran Pilot Hub funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund which is designed to provide grant funding opportunities to address the issues faced by our military community. A working group from the Covenant Partnership was set up to scope what was required in Herefordshire and a successful bid made by Herefordshire Council was submitted in January 2018.
Finding a suitable venue was the toughest part with the current venue located and agreed early 2019 with partners HVOSS taking on the lease on behalf of the Council. Next came the appointment of the Centre Manager who started 1st April 2019. After much renovation work, volunteer time, gifts and donations the centre opened in November 2019. It got off to a great start with plenty of interest and support but just as the official opening was going to take place the Covid 19 health crisis kicked in and the centre had to close. However, it still proved a vital resource to the community, with a veteran to veteran volunteering scheme operating providing food parcels and shopping to vulnerable people, and proving more than ever that there is a need for such services.
Funding from the Covenant Trust Fund for the Pilot finished 31st December 2020. Two further successful bids to the Covenant Trust Fund has supported salary costs for the HVSC Manager and a Volunteer Support Officer through the Force for Change priority funding which finishes on 31st August 2021 to be replaced by the Tackling Loneliness priority funding specifically to continue the employment of the HVSC Manager which continues until 31st March 2023.
HVSC works in partnership with a series of organisations, local military charities and volunteers. It has around 12 volunteers on its books but is aiming to develop its network of volunteers so it can expand its services further and reach out to a greater number of people.
The previous centre manager secured a new post and in April 2021, the centre appointed Sean Gane as the new HVSC Manager. Being a veteran himself, Sean brings first-hand knowledge, understanding and empathy to HVSC and is passionate about supporting other veterans and anyone with connections to the military who may require company and support.
Sean has a wealth of ideas to improve HVSC’s services further and to generate greater interest in HVSC so it can help more people. One feature Sean would like to see implemented is the running of regular art groups, exhibitions, and promotions to help create interest.
One innovation at the centre is the introduction of a hotdesking service. A workstation at the centre is available for anyone from the military community or agencies supporting the armed forces to use. By getting out of the home, the hotdesking opportunity could help combat loneliness, as well as engaging local businesses. Locals requiring IT support, such as applying for grants, filling in forms and more, can get the support they need at the centre.
“The centre is built on trust and an overriding ethos to get it right so that we can benefit anyone and everyone who comes through the door.”
– Sean Gane
Armed Forces Veterans’ Survey
An Armed Forces Veterans’ survey, commissioned to provide data to inform an Armed Forces Needs Assessment, provides insight and understanding of the needs of the veteran community in Herefordshire.
The research was carried out between August and October 2019. A total of 169 responses were received from a veteran population of around 14,000.
The survey confirms the willingness of veterans to offer their services voluntarily to help other veterans, as 47% of respondents said they gave unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations at least once a month.
The same survey found that 40% of respondents reported having a disability, long-term illness, or health problem for 12 months or more, which limits daily activities or the work they can do.
In response to the research, Herefordshire Council aims to provide more local assistance around benefits and pensions, as well as greater local assistance around veteran employment and converting military qualifications. Providing local assistance around debt and managing finances, and non-medical interventions to help support wellbeing and mental health, are also among Herefordshire Council’s objectives.
HVSC offers such assistance, providing comprehensive support to anyone with connections to the military. It’s not just older generations the centre aspires to support. It offers help and support for a broad spectrum of ages, including young people who may need an older mentor.