1. Veteran to Veteran Volunteering Scheme
Applicant: Herefordshire Council
Project Timeframe: January 2021 – February 2022
- Continuation of the part time VSC manager post for 8 months and creating a part time volunteer co-ordinator role to support the volunteer programme and more formally build upon the volunteering opportunity at the VSC by putting systems/procedures & processes in place.
- Funding pot for activities/courses and volunteer training, utilising our partners such as The Cart Shed and working alongside the county community brokers, Talk Community initiatives, parish councils, other military and service delivery organisations.
- Funding for volunteers to cover expenses eg. transport, equipment, refreshments etc to ensure there are no financial barriers to veterans accessing the activities.
- Funding for online digital events/social activities – eg. A number of affordable tablets.
Building on the success of the existing scheme this funding will facilitate continuing further engagement with the socially/rurally isolated veterans in a more structured and formal footing as the volunteering will be an enduring aspect of the VSC. The Covid19 pandemic has highlighted the will in the county to support the Armed Forces community and this funding will allow more volunteers to be recruited to support the centre, when it is able to be opened again, and specifically support the VSC Manager to provide an ongoing outreach service which has been critical to the veterans. It will also continue to provide a referral point for other organisations, such as Herefordshire Council’s community brokers and Talk Community emergency line for shielded and vulnerable residents across the county.
2. Tackling Loneliness Project
Applicant: DMWS in partnership with Herefordshire Council
Project Timeframe: April 2021 – March 2023
Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) will work together with the Herefordshire Veterans Support Centre (HVSC) to maximise impact through joint working. The DMWS Welfare Officer (WO) who is based at the Wye Valley NHS Trust hospital and cover the 5 market towns.
DMWS will provide dedicated, professional and compassionate support to those very hard to reach, lonely and isolated veterans and their families, particularly:
- Bereaved families
- Carers of veterans
- Veterans of any age and in particular, female veterans and older veterans
- Serving families, veterans and veteran families that live in rural or remote locations.
- Transitioning personnel and families (including any children).
Various avenues to be utilised:
- The DMWS WO’s based at the Trust, plus Primary Care (GP and Social Prescribing teams), Veteran Mental Health Network and Dementia Network, have unprecedented access to hard to reach veterans and their families who are receiving medical assistance.
- The HVSC provides a non-threating and anonymous environment for the AFC to seek support and advice.
- Collaboratively the WOs’ and the HVSC Manager will deliver an outreach programme using variety of engagement methods to connect to individuals who have feelings of isolation and loneliness but are hesitant/unaware of how to reach out for help – ie: police community officers, dentists, GPs, alternative healthcare and fitness professionals, local pubs and corner shops, parish councils and church communities to highlight the service.
- We will draw on local experience and expertise and utilise the strength of collaboration, w key partners including, The Cart Shed, the local Garrison, YSS Remember Veterans Service, council community brokers, adult social care team and Talk Community initiative, parish councils, other military and non-military organisations to highlight AFC individuals to us who are known to them and who are isolated and lonely.
- We will link with the local Defence Transition Service to ensure we mobilise person centred and holistic solutions for AFC families moving into the area. Offering support and information around housing, schooling, healthcare and local activities to fast track integration into the local community and address any arising issues early.
From the HVSC and other suitable venues the project will offer a variety of groups for the isolated and lonely AFC ie: craft or artwork, music sessions, model making, wellbeing walks. We will ensure all activities are risk assessed and delivered in a Covid secure way. A highly discounted gym memberships may also be a useful tool (the Halo Gym network has a gym in each market town). We can evidence locally low income female veterans and armed forces wives who are isolated and disconnected from the community.
Variety and networks are key to allow users to choose activities that suit them, promote socialisation, integration and help to make friends, and improve wellbeing for the long-term.