Engaging with ex-service men and women on Remembrance Day

TimeBank’s Shoulder to Shoulder project in Birmingham has recently started up a monthly drop-in for ex-service men and women to find out more about the mentoring that we offer, and to have a coffee and a chat with other veterans.

On Monday November 11 - Remembrance Day - we'll hold the next drop-in, the third since we set it up in September, so veterans will be able to drop in informally for a coffee and a chat on this day of remembrance for service personnel who gave their lives in the First World War and in conflicts since.

Shoulder to Shoulder offers one to one mentoring support to ex-service men and women who have had difficulties adjusting to civilian life and are recovering from mental health problems, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

The project is delivered by TimeBank, which has 13 years’ experience of delivering effective mentoring projects, in partnership with the Royal British Legion and leading veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress.

On average 20,000 service men and women leave the Armed Services every year. 27% experience mental health problems - 20% as a result of traumas during active service, which have a lasting and devastating impact on their lives.*

The problems that such veterans face are complex and they can spiral, potentially leading to serious drink and drug problems, physical health problems, relationship breakdown, homelessness and offending.

Leaving the military is a huge culture shock, as the structure, hierarchy and comradeship of military life is left behind and the uncertainties of civilian life are confronted. This is a jolt for many but for those dealing with mental health difficulties it is much harder to adjust and progress into the future.

Having a mentor creates the opportunity for a veteran to meet regularly with someone who understands, is an objective listening ear and can offer practical support so the veteran can address some of the difficulties they are having, whether it is with benefit forms, getting out of the house more, or trying to find work.

Shoulder to Shoulder is repeatedly recognised as a valuable and vital service for veterans but it’s not always easy for them to get involved, considering the difficulties they might be having. This is why we have set up the drop-in so that a veteran can call in informally and find out more about what we can offer over a coffee, without signing up. It’s also an opportunity to meet other veterans who’ve experienced similar problems.

We also recognise the difficulties that partners and close family members supporting a veteran can have and the impact it has on the whole family, so we are offering the same mentoring and drop-in service to partners and close family members as well.

Shoulder to Shoulder takes referrals for veterans & their families from across the West Midlands.  For more information about the Drop in and Shoulder to Shoulder mentoring take a look here or contact Jane, the Project Coordinator on 0121 236 2531, email janed@timebank.org.uk

* Mental Health Network NHS Confederation briefing November 2010, issue 210.