PoppyScotland rolls out new welfare support service

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Poppyscotland has launched an exciting new service that will transform the support available for the Armed Forces community in Scotland.

A team of six will deliver the new, enhanced offering, including in the West of Scotland, which will significantly enhance Poppyscotland’s already comprehensive range of support.

The Welfare Support Service will be available to the Armed Forces community across the whole of Scotland, but, crucially, it will have a strong local focus and will be tailored to the needs of each individual. The Welfare Support Service team will be made up of four welfare support officers and two independent living advisers, each working within a designated geographical area.

The welfare support officer will provide support to vulnerable veterans and to those identified as having complex needs. These could range from mental or physical health to problems with money and housing. As well as acting as the personal point of contact for Poppyscotland’s clients, members of the new team will work alongside a wide network of agencies, professionals and volunteers to ensure that veterans in the West of Scotland who require support get the help needed.

Working alongside them will be a locally-based independent living advisor, who will provide support to help give those with a long term health issues the ability to maintain their independence and live in their own homes for longer. Many veterans are disabled and require continuing care, but often struggle to access the services they need.

Looking after the West of Scotland – including Argyll and Bute – is welfare support officer Fiona Deacon. Fiona, who covers South West Scotland and the Borders, and served for almost 20 years in the Royal Military Police, said: ‘As an Armed Forces veteran myself, I feel very privileged to be part of this new community-based beneficiary-focused service. I look forward to working in partnership with other service providers and charitable organisations to achieve the best possible results for our Armed Forces veterans and their families.’

Also covering the area in the new role of independent living adviser is Mary Spence, who said: ‘I am delighted to be joining Poppyscotland in my capacity as an independent living adviser, working alongside our partners to deliver person-centred services to our beneficiaries and their families.

‘In this, the 75th year since D-Day, it has never been more important or relevant to remember the sacrifices made every day by our Armed Forces and, as importantly, their families, and the debt we owe them. We are already busy with referrals and have been able to provide advice, support and financial assistance to the Armed Forces Community across Scotland.’

Gary Gray, the head of welfare services at Poppyscotland, said: ‘Poppyscotland is at the forefront of delivery of support to our Armed Forces community across Scotland. We reach out to those who have served, those still serving, and their families at times of crisis and need by offering vital, practical advice, assistance and funding.

‘This is a hugely significant development for veterans across the country. The implementation of the welfare support service enables us to deliver greatly enhanced support in local communities across Scotland; providing one-to-one and face-to-face support to individuals who are particularly vulnerable and have complex needs.’

One such veteran who has received help from Poppyscotland is Chris Fisher, who served in the Royal Navy from 1970 to 1977 and now lives in Helensburgh with his wife Julie.

Chris suffers from a progressive and degenerative disability in which his body has been trying to form a foetal position. He only has the use of his left hand and his hips and knees have fused, meaning getting anywhere was impossible until Poppyscotland provided a grant for a specially adapted van which allows Chris to get out and about.

On the help he has received, Chris says: ‘I approached Poppyscotland and within two weeks I had a new van sitting in the driveway. It’s emotional because without the van, I wouldn’t have a life, I wouldn’t be able to go outside and to do what other people take for granted. I cannot thank Poppyscotland enough for all that they have done for me.

‘It’s heartening to hear of the new welfare support service that will help other veterans like me to access the right support in the right location. I feel lucky to have got the support so quickly, but there are so many other veterans out there who have similarly complex needs and struggle to seek out help. However, the new Poppyscotland service will ensure that they have the right package of support put in place within their own community and that will make a huge difference.’

If you would like to find out more information about Poppyscotland’s new Welfare Support Service, please visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-help/. The charity provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community. Money raised from the Scottish Poppy Appeal and Poppyscotland’s year-round fundraising enables them to deliver support to members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland by providing tailored funding and assistance. The charity also funds services in advice, employment, housing, mental health, mobility and respite.