Iraq Medal

FiMT and DSC release “Focus On: Armed Forces Charities’ Mental Health Provision” report

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and the Directory of Social Change (DSC) today (20 June) release the report Focus On: Armed Forces Charities’ Mental Health Provision which, for the first time, provides an account of the range and diversity of mental health support from UK Armed Forces charities.

The report, the first in the new Focus On series, explores charities that make provision to support the mental health needs of the armed forces community. This report is unique in exploring the mental health areas being supported and the types of services being delivered by charities.

Whether discussed on the political stage, in the media, or under the campaign spotlight, mental health continues to be a significant topic of interest. For all members of society, life experiences can affect mental health, and the Armed Forces community is no exception to this. There is an increasing body of research which explores the mental health experience of Service and ex-Service members and their families, and while debate exists over the prevalence of mental health issues in this cohort, there is unquestionably a need for support. There are charities for whom the mental health needs of their beneficiaries is either one of their many charitable objects, or for some their primary charitable object. But what the charities represented in this report have in common is their support for the mental health needs of their beneficiaries.

There has long been a misconception that there are too many Armed Forces charities in the UK. In DSC’s Sector Insight report (published in 2014) a strong emphasis was placed on ‘myth-busting’ with clear evidence of a diverse and collaborative charity sector. Focus On: Armed Forces Charities’ Mental Health Provision presents further evidence to push beyond such misconception, providing information on the diversity of mental health provision from the relatively small number of charities which support beneficiaries’ specific mental health needs.

The report identifies a total of 76 charities with mental health provisions, representing just 7% of all UK Armed Forces charities. The majority of these charities were found to be ‘secondary providers’, for whom mental health was one of many charitable objectives. The remaining charities were categorised as ‘primary providers’, for whom mental health was a primary or sole charitable objective. More than 80% of charities deliver a non-clinical service (services not delivered by a registered healthcare professional), with less than one-fifth delivering a clinical service.

Overall, support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common area of support from surveyed charities, with counselling being the most common form of service; however, there were differences between the charities in the types of support provided. Services for depression and anxiety and for substance misuse are also explored in the report, along with survey data suggesting between 7,000 to 10,000 members of the Armed Forces Community access services each year. Further analysis contained in the report examines, amongst others, charitable expenditure, collaboration, evaluation, and standards of practice.

The report follows on from DSC’s second Sector Insight report, Armed Forces Charities in Scotland – 2017. The Focus On series will comprise six reports published across 2017 and 2018 which are short, topical and designed to be more accessible counterpoints to the larger Sector Insight reports. They represent an evolution from Sector Insight’s mapping of the sector to focusing on key topical areas of charitable provision aligned with Forces in Mind Trust’s priority Outcomes.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive FiMT says:  “The aim of FiMT is to provide independent, evidence-based knowledge that can be used to influence and bring about change where needed, from policy through to service delivery. The clearly detailed evidence in this report offers an important and unique insight into the mental health support provided by the Armed Forces charity sector across the UK. The Focus On series will provide a compelling series of guides for anyone wishing to better understand the sector, particularly those who work in within the sector such as policymakers, government officials and media organizations.  We hope that the report will be a valuable catalyst to a better understanding of mental health issues and encourage further partnerships to improve the services for members of the Armed Forces and their families.”

Stuart Cole, Research Manager at DSC, says: “We’re proud to announce the launch of the first in a new series of reports. The Focus On series builds on our previous armed forces charities work to provide independently researched evidence on the work of charities. This report is the first in a series of topical reports, which in this case focuses on mental health provision. With a research background in psychology and public health, I find this topic fascinating and I’m delighted to provide charities, policy makers and researchers with a report that illuminates the work of charities making provision in this important area of health.”

Read the report here.



Veterans Scotland is delighted to announce that it is to receive a total of £75,000 from the Forces in Mind Trust, over the next three years, in order to engage with decision makers in statutory and third sector organisations across Scotland and inform them about those preparing to leave the Armed Forces and the ex-Service community and to encourage them to ensure that they are equipped to meet their obligations to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Over the last two years, Veterans Scotland has brought together Gatherings of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions from across Scotland to consider how their organisations are delivering the Armed Forces Covenant and seeking to reduce some disadvantage that may be faced by Servicemen and women, their families and veterans. The most recent Gathering, which took place in Glasgow City Chambers in October 2016, attracted an audience of almost 180 Champions from local authorities, the NHS, Police Scotland, DWP, Skills Development Scotland and housing associations, as well as employers, members of the serving community, charities and many others with an interest in ensuring that any disadvantage faced as a result of service is reduced.

The vast majority of Service leavers and veterans become a great asset to society, they bring knowledge, skills and attitude to the business community, they are adaptable and are accustomed to working in highly pressured environments. A small proportion have difficulty making the transition from service to civilian life; by encouraging organisations to ensure their policies do not increase this difficulty, we will see this proportion reduce. Over the last three years, such engagement has happened across 24 of the 32 Scottish local authority areas; this Forces in Mind Trust funding will enable us to engage at appropriate levels across the whole of Scotland.  

Colonel Martin Gibson OBE DL, Executive Chairman of Veterans Scotland, said:  ‘We are very pleased to receive this funding from the Forces in Mind Trust; we recognise that by having an informed understanding of the disadvantages that service leavers may face, our statutory organisations will be better able to adapt their policies. This in turn will ensure that service leavers, veterans and their families are better placed to make their full contribution.’

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We are pleased to announce our grant to Veterans Scotland, as this project will address the knowledge gap that some policymakers and providers have about the Armed Forces charity sector in Scotland. This is an especially opportune moment to make this announcement as the project engages with the Change Mechanism of ‘influence and convening’ identified in the Activity Report by bringing policy makers and service providers together. I hope these Veterans Scotland events will act as a valuable catalyst to encourage further partnership working, collaboration and effective communication.”

We are grateful to Glasgow’s Helping Heroes for enabling the media facility at their centre in the heart of Glasgow.





This year’s Armed Forces Day is on Saturday, and, to mark the special occasion, Poppyscotland’s Inverness Welfare Centre is hosting an open day on Friday in recognition of the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community in Scotland.

The event, which runs from 11:30am to 3pm, is open to all serving or former members of the Armed Forces in the north of Scotland, including Reservists and family members, and aims to bring people together in an informal setting to learn more about what support is available and how to access it. There is also the opportunity to join the Legion Scotland Inverness Breakfast Club at 10am that same morning.

Nina Semple, the Welfare Services Manager at Poppyscotland’s Inverness Welfare Centre, said: “It’s important for the Armed Forces community in the north of Scotland to know that we offer funding and support, along with services for advice, employment, mobility and respite, and support for housing and mental health.

“What’s more, we ensure that our services are tailored to meet local needs, ensuring no-one is disadvantaged by virtue of where they live. This event will bring people together in an informal setting to improve their understanding of our diverse Armed Forces community and the key issues its members face.”

Poppyscotland supports current and former Servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, both regular and reserve, and members of the Merchant Navy who have served in a commercial vessel in support of UK military operations. Collectively we recognise them as the Armed Forces community which is made up of around 530,000 people in Scotland (100,000 North of Scotland, 25,000 Highlands).

The key principles of Poppyscotland Welfare Services include early prevention, to stop a problem before it becomes a crisis, as well as empowering individuals to give them the means to regain control of their lives. We take a holistic approach – not simply problem solving, but identifying and addressing root causes. What’s more, we work in collaboration with others to achieve the best outcome for beneficiaries. Our approach is also evidence-led; where services are developed on the basis of sound, empirical evidence and we practise sustainability to ensure that our services has long-lasting impact.

For more information on the event, please visit

Help for Heroes Wellbeing focus

Help for Heroes has launched a new Wellbeing focus, to encourage its beneficiaries to improve their overall health and wellbeing this summer.

Over the next three months, the charity will be sharing a whole toolkit on social media and the Help for Heroes website, complete with nutrition tips, advice on how to relax and sleep better, and sharing the health benefits of getting outdoors – as well as a series of yoga videos.

Read more here


New leadership programme opens for the Service charities sector

[Date: 12/06/2017]: Today Clore Social Leadership announced a new leadership development programme for the Service charities sector. ‘Clore6: Cobseo’ was designed in partnership with Cobseo, The Confederation of Service Charities, and Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), who are providing the programme’s core funding.

Aimed at emerging leaders in the Service charities sector, ‘Clore6: Cobseo’ seeks to develop a cadre of leaders to provide robust and effective leadership for their organisations and sector. The programme is built around Clore Social Leadership’s Social Leaders’ Capabilities Framework, which illustrates the attributes, behaviours and skills for successful leadership.

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust said, ‘This new programme will provide those within the Service charities sector with a fantastic opportunity to develop their leadership, and it has the strongest support of Cobseo’s senior leaders.

‘At Forces in Mind Trust we know, having sponsored five Fellows over three years, that Clore Social Leadership transforms individuals, and promotes collaboration more effectively than anything else on the market.  By funding the core costs, we are making it affordable to all charities, and demonstrating Forces in Mind Trust’s commitment to investing in innovative approaches that will enhance the effectiveness of the sector’. Read More Here

Glen Art - Bravehound Armed Forces Day Dog Show


Glen Art will be holding their Bravehound Armed Forces Day dog show on the 1st July 2017 at the old garden centre, Erskine Home Bishopton, PA7 5PU.  The event will take place between 12noon and 4pm.


Glen Art created a show garden at the Gardening Scotland Show in Edinburgh


We approached  Robert Ross to design the garden and partnered with CWGC and the Wilfred Owen Association to create a garden called ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF REMEMBRANCE. It commemorated the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s time in Edinburgh and of the CWGC.

The garden won the Peoples’ Choice Award as well as a Silver Award. It was created by veterans with PTSD from Glen Art working with the gardening team from the CWGC.

A reception at Edinburgh Castle was hosted by the Governor of the castle for the Wilfred Owen Association and Glen Art launching a series of events to commemorate the centenary of Owen’s time at Craiglockhart War Hospital Edinburgh, where he met Siegfried Sassoon, and wrote some of his most powerful work. The Wilfred Owen Association are working with Glen Art with events and activities to commemorate Owen in Edinburgh from June 26th to November 4th.


Veterans returning to civilian life receive boost from grant to the Thistle Foundation


A grant provided by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity to the Thistle Foundation, a health and wellbeing charity based in Scotland, will help Thistle to continue and further develop its work supporting veterans adjusting to civilian life.

Over the next 12 months, the grant will allow Thistle’s Veterans’ Programme to develop three strands of its work. The charity will provide 1-2-1 holistic case management for 10 Veterans. As some people need more intensive support in starting their self-management journey, Thistle can provide this through more intensive personalised support in these 1-2-1 sessions.

Further to this, the funding will enable Thistle to continue with their Veterans Lifestyle Management courses; these remain at the core of what they deliver and underpin their support for Veterans to explore self-management at their own pace and supported by their peers. This year, Thistle will continue to offer their course on-site, and will develop this work further to also take up opportunities to run courses at other venues in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Finally, it will help Thistle to develop a new ‘Veterans Voices’ programme. A spokesman for Thistle commented: “Consultation with veterans accessing our support has told us that having their voices heard and contributing to influencing national and local policy development is something many feel there is limited opportunity to do. We are aware that veterans may need support to represent themselves well in these scenarios in order to make a contribution and influence change, and so we will explore the use of Collective voice process with our Veterans as a means of providing this support.”

For further information visit:


Donations from The Soldiers’ Charity to help children and young people from Armed Forces families

A unique education support programme benefiting young people from armed forces families across Scotland has been boosted with a £10k donation from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

Scotland’s Armed Forces children’s charity, RCET, works directly with young people from armed forces families and provides education support, including resources and training, to teachers and other professionals to help them recognise and deal with the anxieties, challenges and learning obstacles that some experience while at school.

RCET Education Programme Manager, Moira Leslie explains “We want every child from an Armed Forces family to reach their full potential. This isn’t always achievable if they are moving between different education systems and their learning is interrupted, or if they are anxious about a parent who is away from home on active service.

“We strive to give a voice to children from Armed Forces families who might otherwise not be heard” said Moira.  “This considerable and very generous donation from The Soldiers’ Charity will go a long way to achieving these aims.”

This is the second year that The Soldiers’ Charity has donated £10k in support of RCET’s work.  Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity said: “The Soldiers’ Charity is here to support not just those serving men and women, but their families too. With the grants to RCET we are ensuring their children receive the best possible educational support. RCET is a charity with a proven track record of getting the best out of those children it assists so we are very proud to be supporting them.”

Royal Blind Appoint New Chief Executive

Scotland’s largest visual impairment organisation has announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive.

Mark O’Donnell will take up the role of Chief Executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded, which are together known as Royal Blind Group, at the end of July.

Mr O’Donnell, currently Chief Executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, will take over from Richard Hellewell, who will be retiring this Summer after 10 years at the helm.

With a background in health and social care in the charitable and public sectors, Mr O’Donnell joins the Royal Blind Group during a period of significant expansion. 150 jobs will shortly be created in Paisley at Royal Blind’s new care home for visually impaired older people and Scottish War Blinded’s activity and support centre. The new services will open in October this year.

A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Mr O’Donnell is a former Deputy Director in health and social care at the Scottish Government and has held senior positions at the Scottish Ambulance Service and MS Society.  

Mark O’Donnell said:

"I am truly delighted to be joining Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded.  It is a huge privilege to take over from Richard Hellewell as Chief Executive of such a respected and important organisation with a strong reputation for excellence and person-centred services.  It is a particularly exciting time to join with an expansion of services underway. I look forward to working with everyone connected to the organisation to make sure the next chapter in the organisation's history is a great success."

Gwenn McCreath, Chair of Royal Blind said:

“We are delighted that Mark O’Donnell will be joining us as Chief Executive. He brings a wealth of experience of leading and managing charities and of working on social and health care policy and service delivery. Mark is joining Royal Blind at an exciting time in our development and we look forward to his leadership.

“We thank Richard Hellewell for leading Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded for the last decade. Under Richard’s leadership the charities modernised and grew their services, expanding our reach to many more visually impaired people of all ages. The Board wishes him all the best in his retirement.”

£4 million awarded from the Aged Veterans Fund

A consortium of organisations, led by Poppyscotland, has been awarded £4 million from the Aged Veterans Fund to undertake a three-year programme of support for older veterans and their families in Scotland.

Unforgotten Forces, a collaboration of 14 leading organisations, will deliver a range of new services and enhancements in areas including advice, access to healthcare, social isolation, respite, along with creative activities and events for those in care settings. The consortium has been awarded the funding to undertake this ambitious programme of work.

The application for funding, which was boosted by input from Standard Life’s Accelerated Development Support Programme, was made to the HM Treasury grant-giving body funded from LIBOR banking fines. The money will be used over the next three years to improve the coordination of existing provision and introduce new services aimed at supporting aged veterans.

The Poppyscotland portfolio will include services such as advice provision, support for those on the NHS pathway with transport being provided to appointments. Loneliness and isolation will be tackled through befriending, respite breaks and a newly created day centre.

Mark Bibbey, Chief Executive at Poppyscotland, the organisation leading the consortium, said: “We want people to understand that key organisations in the area of support provision have joined forces to provide a more holistic provision for aged veterans. If a veteran is engaged with one organisation, for example, they can immediately be referred to another – or multiple consortium members if required. The essence is strength in numbers and we want the identity of our consortium to reflect this.

“The 2014 Poppyscotland Household Survey numbered Scotland’s Aged Veterans community at approximately 280,000, with almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of those aged 65 or over. It highlighted the need to improve the wellbeing of this group in areas such as care, loneliness, social isolation and recreational activity, and to ensure access to advice on a wide range of subjects in order to ensure an improved quality of life.

“Poppyscotland’s strategy has been to build a wide portfolio of complementary activity and to work in partnership with like-minded organisations to provide enhanced and well-defined services. The components of the portfolio partnership are deliberately diverse to cover the range of potential needs identified and to maximise reach and this funding boost will allow us to do just that. Each partner will also have a sound understanding of what others offer and each will effectively be a door to the whole partnership.”

The Aged Veterans Fund has announced a total of £22.7 million of LIBOR funding to ten organisations to improve the coordination of existing provision and introduce new services aimed at supporting aged veterans.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: “Our ageing veterans have given so much for their country, and channelling LIBOR funding through the Aged Veterans Fund is a way of us thanking them for their service and ensuring they are cared for in later life through national and regional projects targeted at their needs.”

The includes the following organisations: Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Age Scotland, Care and Repair, Citizens Advice Scotland, Defence Medical Welfare Service, Erskine, Fares4Free, Legion Scotland, Luminate, Music in Hospitals Scotland, Poppyscotland, Scottish Older People’s Assembly, Scottish War Blinded and the University of West of Scotland.



New Forces in Mind Trust award: King’s College London to research secondary mental health treatment for ex-Service personnel

A grant of £158,999 has been awarded to King’s College London to conduct an 18-month feasibility study exploring the type of mental health problems UK veterans experience who actively access secondary mental health care, their pathway through treatment, the outcomes of the treatment they receive, and their socio-demographic profile.  The project will compare and contrast these findings with non-veterans (ie the general population) who access the same services, as well as UK veterans who access veteran-specific mental health care services.

Uniquely, the research will focus on secondary care which deals with more complex needs than primary care. The study will use the innovative Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system, which provides authorised researchers with regulated, secure access to anonymised information extracted from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust’s electronic clinical records.  For the first time, CRIS will be used to identify the specific mental health needs of veterans.  Additional information will be provided by the UK’s leading mental health charity for veterans, Combat Stress, on veterans accessing their specialist mental health care services.

Estimates of the UK veteran population range from three to five million. Research shows that a minority (between 4%-20%) may experience physical and mental health problems, some as a result of service, but the majority of those do not seek formal medical help.  For those that do, this study will help fill the knowledge gap concerning the mental health issues with which they present, whether they opt for the NHS secondary health care system or veteran specific treatment, what happens to them once in either of these treatment systems and the outcomes of the treatment they receive, and looking at what differences (if any) there may be when contrasted with the general population (where possible).

The research project will be conducted by Dr Sharon Stevelink, Study Coordinator of the Clinical Interview Study, part of the Health and Well-being Study Programme at King’s College London.

Dr Sharon Stevelink said: “We are very excited to start this novel project investigating treatment pathways for veterans with complex mental health issues. The unique collaboration with Combat Stress enables us to provide a comprehensive picture of mental health care services accessed by the veteran community. We hope that the research will enable us to tailor the provision of mental health services for veterans reaching out for support to combat their mental health difficulty.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “There remains a significant dearth in evidence around the specific mental health needs, and treatment pathways and outcomes of UK ex-Service personnel accessing generic mental health secondary care services.  The findings from this uniquely placed study will inform mental health care policy makers and service providers in both the statutory and non-statutory sectors to plan resources that will best serve and treat this vulnerable cohort for whom transition to civilian life may be particularly challenging.”




Local Bonnyrigg resident Ann Hamilton has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Years Honours List. Mrs Hamilton has been working for over twenty four years as the Office Manager for the Scottish Veterans’ Garden City Association that provides housing for disabled veterans throughout Scotland; her award is for service to Veterans.

Mrs Hamilton said: “It has been an honour to work for this Charity for a quarter of a century. I don’t feel as if I have earned it, as we have many volunteers in this Charity who give up their time to help veterans too and so this is perhaps on behalf of them also.”

Lt Colonel Richard Callander, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Vice Lord Lieutenant for Midlothian said: “This is a very worthy honour and we are all delighted that Mrs Hamilton has been recognised for this very well deserved award.”


Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity CEO Robert Robson has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours

Robert joined the RNRMC in September 2008 as Chief Executive Officer, a move which he says brought him back “home”, having previously served as a warfare officer in the Royal Navy in the 1980s. After a 20 year “interim” stint with Barclays, which took him all over the UK and Europe, he took the helm of the Charity at the beginning of the voyage of discovery that awaited.

His range of involvement in the charity sector includes being a Governor of the Royal Star and Garter Homes, Director of Cobseo – the Confederation of Service Charities and of Veterans Scotland. He is also a member of the Finance Committee of the Mary Rose Trust, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, and a Younger Brother of Trinity House.

Upon hearing of his honour, awarded in recognition of his services to naval personnel, Robert said: “It was a huge surprise. I had to read the letter twice.

“I am delighted and honoured to accept the award of an OBE. So many people have enabled the success of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and I will wear it with pride as a reflection of our joint achievements.”

Follow this link to the RNRMC Website.


Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report published

The fifth Armed Forces Covenant annual report has been presented to parliament today, showing good progress on providing support for the Armed Forces Community.

The Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly. Today’s annual report details the actions taken to deliver covenant commitments in 2016, with over 1300 businesses now signed up to the Covenant.


Follow this link to the rest of the story.


Trees of Honour Light Up Every Erskine Home This Christmas



A Tree of Honour takes pride of place in every Erskine home this Christmas after the annual light switch on took place last night in each home.

The trees are decorated with very special stars, each one representing a loved one who is missing from family celebrations.  Erskine supporters send in their Purple Stars marked with personal messages in memory of someone special.  When the trees are full of stars the rest are displayed within Erskine’s four care homes.

Veterans and their families and friends enjoyed the switch on event in each home with visitors attending to join in the celebrations.

Erskine Home Tree of Honour Ceremony 2016 Licensed to Erskine home for 2 years from date of creation. Photograph © Jamie Williamson for more info please contact or 07989437787

Erskine Home Tree of Honour Ceremony 2016

At The Erskine Home in Bishopton pupils from Bargarran Primary School and local army cadets led a candlelight procession up to the entrance of the home with music from Kilbarchan Pipe Band.  Rev Jonathan Fleming conducted a short service which included a dedication of the tree before Scottish musician Alastair McDonald performed and led everyone in the singing of Christmas carols.

Erskine resident David Fannon along with Braehead Clan’s Captain Matt Keith switched the lights on the Tree of Honour before everyone moved back into the warmth of the home for festive refreshments and a musical performance by Katrina Muir. (Read more) 


Putting their best foot forward

Rising Star Natasha Watson thanks the Royal Caledonian Education Trust by putting on a dazzling performance at a reception last night.

Friday 18th November 2016 – Rising ballet star and award winning actress Natasha Watson (20) from Falkirk and Jade Scott (13) from Drumchapel gave moving accounts of the support they received when it was most needed, at a charity reception last night for the Royal Caledonian Education Trust on the occasion of its move to Scotland.

The RCET has been supporting the educational needs of children of Scottish Armed Forces personnel for over 200 years. Natasha and Jade each spoke of the support they had received from the RCET and the enormous difference it had made to their young lives.

Natasha, now a teacher and choreographer at Ballet West in Taynuilt in Argyll, regularly performs with the Scottish Ballet and the English National Ballet and will be dancing the lead role in Ballet West’s Swan Lake which is touring round Scotland early next year.


Lothians Veterans Centre - New initiatives. 

Bacon roll morning” – every Friday, at 10:30am. Open to all ex-servicemen, women and their families. We also welcome other Organisation and Veterans’ Charities to “come and join us” for a roll and a brew.

Employability Training Courses.

• IOSH Working Safely – 13th December 2016 
• Manual Handling / Fire Marshall – 7th February 2017 (2x ½ half-day courses combine)

Our courses are FREE to all ex-servicemen, women and families – recognised and fully accredited within each Governing Body.

Please get in-touch if you have any questions and I’d be grateful if you could help us promote these event and initiatives.


Steven Williams
Employability Project Manager
Lothians Veterans Centre
11 Eskdaill Court
EH22 1AG
T: 0131 654 2531

Annual population survey: UK armed forces veterans residing in Great Britain 2015

This is an annual publication providing estimates on the size and socio-demographic characteristics of the UK veteran population living in households in England, Scotland and Wales. Follow the link here to read more

Largest Gathering in Support of Armed Forces Covenant in Scotland

Monday, 10 October, Glasgow City played host to the largest Gathering in support of our Armed Forces and Military Veterans Community, including their families,  in the UK to date. Veterans Scotland, the organisation behind the orchestration of this event paid tribute to the generosity of the City of Glasgow in providing the City Chambers as the event venue, and how the close partnership forged between the City of Glasgow, Veterans Scotland, The Scottish Government, representatives of all 3 Armed Services in Scotland and the Scottish Veterans Commissioner has led to the success of this ground-breaking event.

Over 200 delegates attended from over 22 Scottish local authorities, 10 NHS Boards, the DWP, Police Scotland, Education Services, local authority housing staff, Housing Associations, the Serving Community and families federations, the Scottish Government, the Ministry of Defence, DWP and Veterans Welfare Services  as well as from charities and others with an interest in meeting the commitments of  the Armed Forces Covenant in Scotland.

The Gathering brought together decision makers and influencers of policy against the political backdrop of the Armed Forces Covenant 2012 and The Scottish Government’s Renewing Our Commitments 2016.

The keynote address was from Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown, who announced the Standard Life Foundation initiative to support the Scottish Veterans Fund.

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for Veterans, said:

“Scotland is a society that holds our armed forces, veterans and their families in high esteem.  The Scottish Government places great importance on this community, and we aim for Scotland to be their destination of choice, with supportive communities, high living standards and excellent public services.  Armed forces and veterans champions are powerful advocates for their interests, providing vital support within the public sector in Scotland.”

Other speakers included Scottish Veterans Commissioner Eric Fraser, General Officer Scotland Major General Nick Ashmore, Ray Lock of The Forces in Mind Trust and Carolyn McLeod launched the “Getting it Right for Forces Families” video.

Veterans Scotland Chairman Martin Gibson said, “The drawing together of so many key players from a wide spectrum of sectors demonstrates the strong desire across Scotland  to make the Armed Forces Covenant a success and will ensure there is no disadvantage to those who serve their country.”

The day’s programme aimed to bring delegates up to date at the strategic level, whilst providing the opportunity to share good practice, learn about research reports, with the opportunity to influence and shape the development of further initiatives in the areas of Employment, Housing, Wellbeing and honouring the Covenant through break- out sessions against the overall backdrop of the Scottish Government’s intention to make Scotland the destination of choice for those leaving the Services.

About Veterans Scotland

Veterans Scotland is a membership charity for the charitable sector working in support of the nation’s personnel and veterans of the armed forces and their families. Veterans Scotland works on behalf of its members to enhance the welfare of the veterans community in Scotland by acting as the prime vehicle for: joint working between member charities; the dissemination of information to members and the coordination of joint approaches to UK; Scottish Government; Local Authorities and other organisations whose business is of benefit to veterans.

Veterans Scotland also provides the one stop shop website for veterans, to access information and guidance on any topic they may need help with following transition out of the armed services.


Journalists and media are invited to join us at the event in the morning, where selected guest speakers, including Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown, General Officer Scotland Nick Ashmore, Scottish Veterans Commissioner Eric Fraser and Veterans Scotland Chairman Martin Gibson will be available for interview.

The Armed Forces Covenant Website

The new website for the Armed Forces Covenant has now been launched and the link is shown (Here>>)


Supporting our veterans back into civilian society

Ed Tytherleigh, Chief Executive of Stoll will be speaking about Homes for Heroes: supporting our veterans back into society in a sub plenary session on day two of the National Housing Federation’s annual conference (21-23 September) here is an excerpt of his blog post:

The social housing sector is vital for many veterans when they leave the Armed Forces.

Many servicemen and women receive military accommodation while they are in the Armed Forces and do not have a civilian home of their own. That is precisely why the social housing sector becomes so vital for many veterans when they leave the Armed Forces. I will be speaking on day two of this year’s Annual Conference and am delighted that the National Housing Federation is embracing the veterans’ sector and look forward to discussing our work.

The new Veterans’ Housing Advice Office scheme will be a one-stop-shop for veterans on all things housing. There’s no shortage of housing information available – but we need to end the fragmented service that too many veterans experience today. That’s why we at Stoll and 18 veterans’ organisations have received Ministry of Defence funding for this new service to prevent homelessness and meet Veterans’ housing and support needs.

Follow this link to read the rest of the blog.

Follow this link to register for the conference.


Autumn Issue of eSpouse

This issue is dedicated to all our spouses in the North of the Country - too often, we hear that partners of service personnel are struggling to find work in the areas where they are posted, a pattern we're seeking to break by offering our northern-
based members the chance to upskill this Autumn.  

A recent, independent survey of over 1,200 tri-service spouses found that 84% would like to find employment while 46% remain unemployed, despite actively seeking work. So here at RfS, we've set ourselves the challenge of attracting more employers who support and recognise the talents of Armed Forces' spouses far and wide, from Kinloss to Catterick, where we'll be running our first Digital Skills course in October. You can learn more about it in this newsletter.  

We'll also be visiting spouses in Arbroath and Helensburgh this month, extending our reach yet further under the wing of our new Scottish office in Leuchars. (Read more)

How to apply for a Covenant Fund grant

The £10 million per annum Covenant Fund to support the armed forces community is open for applications. Further information available here >>>


Our Community – Our Covenant

A new report entitled ‘Our Community – Our Covenant’, which was jointly commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and Local Government Association (LGA) to identify ways to improve the local delivery of the Government’s Armed Forces Covenant, has found that 38% of Armed Forces Community members felt disadvantaged as a result of their service.

The Report, released today, 30th August, and supported by the Ministry of Defence, by using examples of good practice from across Great Britain, provides an outline of the core infrastructure needed to deliver the Covenant’s aims, and offers a number of key recommendations to help better deliver these objectives.  The recommendations apply to Government, local councils, military charities and the Armed Forces Community itself.

The Report identified in some aspects a mis-match between what is perceived to be the Covenant’s remit, and what is actually being delivered.

All local authorities in Great Britain have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and to better delivering its objectives.   Notwithstanding the recent efforts the MOD has put in to better prepare its people to transition into civilian life, the Report finds that the MOD could do more.  In addition, not all council Chief Executives reported that they had a ‘good’ understanding of the Covenant, and an active action plan.  The Report also underlines the importance of individuals in the Armed Forces Community taking responsibility for their own transition.

Read more

Glen Art and the Bravehound Project

Glen Art and the BRAVEHOUND project supports veterans and their families with horticultural and artistic activities as well as an annual Festival of Remembrance.

The BRAVEHOUND project places dogs with veterans and provides training and support, training is also available for veterans who already own a dog.  and


Cobseo AGM – Forces Welfare Report

Tuesday 12th July saw the biggest date in the Cobseo calendar; the AGM with 180 delegates including full and associate members, together with representatives from the MoD and House of Lords at the Victory Services Club.

Culminating in a Keynote address by Paula Sussex, CEO of the Charity Commission, the day included detailed report from the Chairman, Lt General Sir Andrew Ridgway, updates on Cobseo’s Communications, CMS and Cluster initiatives and presentations by a range of Cobseo members on their contributions to the Confederation.

This year there were three spaces being contested in the elections to the Executive Committee; The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain, AF&V Launchpad, SSVC, RFEA, Forces Pension Society and Blesma were all up for election. Existing members FPS and Blesma were re-elected and will be joined by new member RFEA.

Key to the day was the opportunity for members to network and the Cobseo team was on-hand to make introductions. (Read more>>>)

Positive Futures

The Positive Futures is a programme run by Venture Trust charity and funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). It provides support to ex-Service men and women from across Scotland who are struggling with the transition to civilian life, lacking in focus, motivation or direction. Centred around a 5-day wilderness journey, the scheme utilises outdoor activity as a learning environment for personal development, and a catalyst for change, allowing participants to use skills acquired within the military and redeploy them into a civilian environment.

The programme helps participants to negotiate barriers, gain some control of the situations in which they might find themselves, and to work towards achieving their personal goals. These could be finding a home, rebuilding broken relationships; working towards living a healthy, safe and stable life; retraining or applying for a job; or utilising their skills through volunteering.


Kiltwearing Fundraisers Take On Ben Nevis


The Erskineers – a group of fantastic fundraisers and their four legged friend – are taking on the challenge of climbing Britain’s highest mountain to raise money for Erskine Park Care Home.

The kiltwearing mountaineers have been in training for months to climb Ben Nevis on Saturday 28th May to raise money for veterans and their spouses in Erskine’s centenary year. (Read more >>>

Charity seeks to combat Veterans’ isolation and loneliness

Over 2,000 veterans in Scotland contacted Legion Scotland last year looking for a befriender to help them combat loneliness and isolation.

Legion Scotland, (Royal British Legion Scotland) is the largest ex-services membership charity in Scotland and due to this demand the charity is currently looking to attract more people to provide friendship to ex-servicemen and women, young and old.

In 2015, 2,200 requests for befriender support were made either from a veteran directly or a family member. Research throughout the years has shown that veterans of all ages and backgrounds can encounter a range of challenges upon leaving the Armed Forces including isolation, unemployment and housing issues.

One of Legion Scotland’s Wellbeing Co-ordinators William McMaster, who is also Vice Chairman of his local branch, has witnessed first-hand the positive impact the service has on veterans.

He said: “Legion Scotland’s befriending service makes a massive difference to the general wellbeing of the veterans. Some members of the ex-service community have had no interaction for months and it is heart breaking. Everybody needs to talk. I had to struggle on my own to get better while I battled depression and homelessness so I hate the idea of someone having to go through a similar situation.

“I’ve received letters, emails and numerous phone calls from veterans thanking us for the work that we’ve done because we’ve changed their lives completely.”

Local Legion Scotland befrienders receive full training and can give as little as two hours a week of their time visiting a veteran, many of whom have no one else to talk to. They can also provide advice and signpost them to vital support services run by Legion Scotland and other military charities which can have a long lasting positive change on their life.

Stephen Baird, Head of Wellbeing, Legion Scotland said: “The amount of people contacting us last year is a stark reminder that veterans across Scotland are in need of support. Our befriending service is simple but highly effective. We know that some veterans may  feel isolated and lonely after leaving the military and having someone to talk to, share a laugh with and confide in can make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Legion Scotland is the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland working at the heart of the veterans’ community. With nearly 170 branches, 70 clubs and over 31,000 members, Legion Scotland provides essential wellbeing and befriending services for all veterans – whether they left service yesterday or 50 years ago – as well as providing disablement pension advice, comradeship events, grants and remembrance services.

To find out more about Legion Scotland’s befriending service including information on how to volunteer contact Stephen Baird on 0131 550 1560

Currently, Legion Scotland represents around 85% of people at the disablement pensions tribunals each year and offers grants for veterans’ and their families.

Legion Scotland is the day-to-day name for the Royal British Legion Scotland and whilst it works alongside Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion to deliver the best for veterans it has always been a separate charity from The Royal British Legion which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To donate £3 text ‘LSCO15 £3’ to 70070.

To find out more visit


Military charities demonstrate united front in tackling future needs of sector

Military charities demonstrate united front in tackling future needs of sector_RNRMC

Picture caption: 23 military charities and non-profit organisations gathered under one roof in an attempt to identify future charitable challenges and needs within the beneficiary groups of the Naval Service. Left to right: Robert Robson (CEO, RNRMC), Carol Elliott (Fundraising Manager, RNRMC) & Jane Williams (Deputy Director, The Naval Families Federation).

23 military charities and non-profit organisations gathered under one roof in an attempt to identify future charitable challenges and needs within the beneficiary groups of the Naval Service.

The workshop, hosted by The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) at its HMS Excellent headquarters, Whale Island, Portsmouth, on Friday 15 April, represented the first time that so many associated charities, welfare and support networks, have come together in anticipation of the future challenges that the Royal Navy family may face in future, and how best to prepare for these challenges.

Mandy Lindley, Director of Funding and Relationships, said: “This is the first time we have brought the naval benevolence charity community together to discuss the concept of ‘need’ in the naval benevolence sector. The feedback from the workshop is invaluable as it will help inform our funding priorities for the coming year.”

She added: “I’m delighted that so many people could attend and contribute to the session. Many have come a long way for this which demonstrates a real willingness to work together for the benefit of our joint beneficiaries”.

Attendees included representatives from front-line charities who deliver services directly to beneficiaries, as well as grant-makers and major grant recipients of the RNRMC.

Topics of conversation included assessing the current needs of Royal Navy beneficiaries; identifying where needs aren’t currently being met as a result of insufficient resources or where outside of the remit of individual organisations; and ideas, resources and opportunities to address these needs or how to work together for the benefit of beneficiaries. The concept of ‘early intervention’, in order to prevent beneficiaries needing to access charitable services in the first place, was one example of the kinds of themes discussed by delegates.

In total, 40 people attended the session, from the following organisations: RNRM Welfare East Hub,
Naval Families Federation, Kids, Royal Marines Association, Regular Forces Employment Association, RNRM Children’s Fund, Royal British Legion, Aggies, Royal Navy Benevolent Trust, Sailors Children’s Society, Seafarers UK, White Ensign Association, Veterans Outreach Support, The Royal Marines Charity, Greenwich Hospital, Royal Naval Association, WRNS Benevolent Trust, Naval Family Welfare, and the Maritime Charities Group.

The success of the event will not only inform the RNRMC about how to best deploy its resources for the remainder of the year but it also paves the way for organisations to work even more closely together for the benefit of their joint beneficiaries.