Charity appeals for more volunteers to help veterans

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:47 25 November 2019

SSAFA volunteer case workers Martha Luke, Keith Powis, Anne Kerruish and Lloyd Rosentall.    Picture: MARK ATHERTON

SSAFA volunteer case workers Martha Luke, Keith Powis, Anne Kerruish and Lloyd Rosentall. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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Volunteers are needed to offer support to people who have served in the armed forces.

SSAFA volunteers manning stalls at Weston Armed Forces Day.SSAFA volunteers manning stalls at Weston Armed Forces Day.

SSAFA, The Armed Forces Charity, offers lifelong support to serving men, women and veterans along with their families, but it is in need of more volunteers in North Somerset.

The charity's case workers are the lifeblood of the organisation - reaching out to those in need.

Volunteers offer emotional support and friendship to help people adapt to civilian life.

They also use their training and expertise to gain funding from a variety of sources, including local authorities and charities to help with needs such as the installation of stair-lifts and bathroom adaptations.

SSAFA North Somerset needs more volunteer case workers to befriend and support veterans in the area.

Paul Denovan, division coordinator for the North Somerset branch, said: "Veterans are getting younger and some find adapting to civilian life disorientating without the structure and camaraderie of the forces.

"Many veterans tell us it is difficult to ask for help leading to further isolation and poorer physical and mental health.

"There are many that gravitate to seaside towns and Weston is no exception.

"Volunteering is far from grim. It is sometimes demanding but there is extensive training provided, a network of support and the ability to reach back to in-depth expertise in areas such as housing, finance and benefits.

"The sense of camaraderie among teams is vibrant and North Somerset is a wonderful example of this esprit de corps and united purpose."

Many volunteers benefit from the role, through training, a sense of purpose, friendship and helping someone in need.

Keith Powis was helped by the charity before becoming a volunteer himself.

He said: "There was a time after leaving the army that I needed help, I was put in touch with SSAFA and thanks to them they were able to help me get a fresh start here in Weston.

"Over the past several years, with other charities, I have been trained to use my skills to help others.

"When I saw the opportunity to volunteer for SSAFA, I had no hesitation in joining.

"I am helping others, be it recently discharged or those that left a while ago.

"I am helping these veterans to get their lives back on track and to move forward.

"I have not been with SSAFA long but what I have seen so far is that it is a rewarding and worthwhile service to volunteer with."

Anyone who has served in the British armed forces - regulars and reserves - is eligible for SSAFA support along with their immediate family members.

Around 15,000 men and women leave the armed forces each year and the result of poor transition back into the community is estimated to cost £110million next year, based on costs to society through alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, family breakdown and other issues.

SSAFA offers a confidential helpline for the armed forces community, providing emotional support and signposting to other services.

The charity provides welfare advice and financial assistance - trained volunteers visit clients to help them with issues such as home adaptations, debts, access to benefits and to address social isolation.

Volunteers have expert local knowledge and can refer clients to services within SSAFA, such as the mentoring programme for service leavers and the veteran breakfast.

Anne Kerruish had never heard of SSAFA until she spotted the charity running a stand at a Christmas fair in the Winter Gardens.

She said: "I knew I wanted to do something interesting as I had retired and this seemed ideal - going out and about, meeting all kinds of people with the possibility of making a difference to them at that time.

"Volunteering for SSAFA has kept my brain active - my IT skills have remained current, the training is excellent and I can give as much or as little of my time to suit me.

"I have met some amazing people who needed assistance at a difficult time and had real satisfaction when we have been able to help with their problem.

"I have worked alongside people I would never have met otherwise that I consider friends."

To find out more about SSAFA, or to volunteer, contact Paul Denovan on 07387 253432 or email paul.denovan@ssafa.org.uk

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