Saturday marks Armed Forces Day across the UK and the new service, known as Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire, will be present at the York and Scarborough celebrations.
The aims of the new service are to raise awareness of the issues older veterans face in later life and retirement, and offer practical and customised support to enable them to lead fuller lives in the way they would like.
Examples of support on offer include home visits to look at improvements around the house, healthy lifestyle courses, opportunities to take part in trips and new activities, befriending and volunteering, and help and advice for carers and families.
The work is backed by a consortium of 14 charities and organisations and will contribute to the support offered by service charities by focusing on alleviating loneliness and isolation.
The charities involved, from Age UK to Carers Resource to Saint Michael’s Hospice, are all experienced in working with older people who may have complex needs.
Any veteran over the age of 65 is eligible, as well as anyone who completed National Service conscription or supported the armed forces through a role in the Merchant Navy. The 3-year project will cover North Yorkshire and York and is funded by the Aged Veterans Fund at the Ministry of Defence by the Chancellor using LIBOR fines.
Leah Swain, Chief Executive of Community First Yorkshire, the charity leading the consortium, said: “This concentrated support for our older veterans will ensure they receive the care, value and recognition they deserve.
“We are working across sectors to bring this new service to North Yorkshire and we are passionate about helping our older ex-forces community to identify and achieve their goals.
“The project has been developed to offer a variety of low level and more intensive interventions to ensure issues are not missed, and we will be working with our colleagues at the likes of SSAFA to provide a rounded and helpful package of support.”
Veterans Tommy and Judith in Selby have been taking part in an art group run by Rural Arts for the past couple of months. The funding for the new service means art groups such as these can be made available across the region.
Tommy, a former regular in the RAMC who saw service in Korea, learned photography and radiography in the army and helped teach other soldiers about battlefield wounds. “It’s not like you see on the telly,” he said.
Judith served 4 years with the RAF, mainly in Lincolnshire, joining at 18. She greatly enjoyed her service where she also met her husband, a Flight Lieutenant.
“I enjoy doing the arts and would like to do more of it,” said Judith, “it is very relaxing.”
Tommy meanwhile is interested in storytelling, something the new project will look to cater for. He has previously written a book on his army days and his later career with the police in County Durham.
Leah Swain said: “It is often the case that the stories and lives of our older veterans are only visible during Remembrance Week and other key anniversaries. It is our aim to increase awareness of how much veterans have contributed to our society and what they would still like to contribute.”
Candice Dowson, Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire Project Manager, Community First Yorkshire – 01904 704 177
Leah Swain, Chief Executive, Community First Yorkshire – 01904 704 177
Veterans Tommy and Judith taking part in the arts group. Classes and sessions like this will be offered through the new service.
Aged Veterans Fund / Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire
The Aged Veterans Fund has awarded £22.7 million of LIBOR funding to ten charities to improve support and introduce new services for older veterans.
The money will help organisations across the country to continue the invaluable work they do to support older veterans, which includes providing access to health care and carers, support with using the internet, and offering general advice.
The ten charities to receive the awards are Age UK, Poppyscotland, The Royal British Legion, the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, Cornwall Rural Community Charity, Community First Yorkshire (formerly Rural Action Yorkshire), St Johns and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service, Age Cymru, Seafarers UK, and Hospice UK.
The Aged Veterans Fund which was set up in 2015, had a total of £30 million of LIBOR funds available to support older veterans. It is designed to support non-core health, wellbeing, and social care needs for older veterans (born before 1 January 1950), including surviving Second World War veterans, those who undertook National Service, and other voluntary enlisted veterans who may need some focused support in relation to their health and social care needs.
This final round of awards comes after the Aged Veterans Fund initially granted £6.6 million to eight organisations in 2016.
‘Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire,’ the project led by Community First Yorkshire, will raise awareness of former and older members of the armed forces in our region and offer practical, financial and targeted support. The aim of this support is to enable veterans to lead fuller lives in the way they would like and respond to their needs and issues.
The service accepts self-referrals as well as those from friends/family and professionals. A referral can be made by contacting 01904 704 177 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community First Yorkshire
Community First Yorkshire was created by the merger of North Yorkshire & York Forum and Rural Action Yorkshire in April 2017. Between them, these two organisations have over 80 years’ worth experience of supporting communities and the voluntary sector.
The newly-formed organisation provides practical support to voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises, with the overall aim of helping groups and charities to achieve their goals and better support their service users.
Community First Yorkshire will continue Rural Action Yorkshire’s previous work as a Rural Community Council for North, South and West Yorkshire under the umbrella of ACRE. It will continue to promote rural communities and to enhance the quality of life for people.
By securing funding, Community First Yorkshire will work on community development projects across North, South and West Yorkshire that enrich communities and the people who live and work in them.