From mentor to friend on our Shoulder to Shoulder project

This is Douglas, to the left of the photo and Bruce, his recent mentor. We all sit down for a catch up and laugh about how Bruce likes to drink lots of Douglas’s coffee when he comes to visit. It’s great to see Douglas like this, because four months ago he wasn’t in a very good place.

Douglas, a veteran, was referred to Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine by Scottish Veterans Residences (SVR), as he had recently become unemployed and had to sort some final things out with his ex-employer, was struggling financially and moved to SVR’s supported accommodation.

Douglas says: “I was confused, I would feel high one day and then low the next. One of the hardest things is to ask for help; however I knew I needed further support.

Then, Ali, the Project Co-ordinator introduced me to Bruce. I soon found that we got on well together; have the same sense of humour and had a lot in common, as he is also a veteran. Before I had a mentor, I wasn’t getting out of the house much, I was becoming a recluse. Just knowing that I was going to meet Bruce every fortnight was everything, especially as we got on so well. I really liked having a mentor and one to one support. I can relate to Bruce. We went to museums, days out and chatted about my issues over coffee. I also now have the motivation to take part in exercise and feel healthier.”

Bruce, who is also a volunteer befriender at Erskine in Edinburgh, says: “You know, I have learned a lot from Douglas too; we have a lot in common and enjoy history and going to historical places on days out. When I met with Douglas the second time, he let out all of his frustrations and then the next time we met, he seemed more relaxed and we got to know each other better. It helps that Douglas has been honest and open with me and that makes the mentor/mentee relationship easier.

Three months later, Douglas was settled in non-supported accommodation, had sorted out issues with his previous employers and was financially better off. "We continue to meet once a week and are looking to explore other historical places to visit."

Douglas adds: “I’m so glad that with the support of SVR and referring me to TimeBank’s Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine project, I am now a much happier person. This has been very beneficial for me and I’ve made a friend in Bruce. I would really recommend the programme to other veterans in need of support in their transition to civilian life.”

If you would like to find out more about support from a mentor or would like to volunteer, call Ali on 07437 437 867, email or find out more here.