SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has launched its ‘Got Your Back’ campaign to encourage vulnerable veterans of working-age in Staffordshire, to come forward for help.
SSAFA’s Staffordshire branch* is one of the charity’s 92 volunteer-run, local branches across the globe, five of which are in the West Midlands. The Staffordshire branch has supported 261 people so far this year, but SSAFA believes there are many more local veterans who would benefit from, but are not asking for help. The Staffordshire branch covers a wide area and has divisions in Burton upon Trent & Uttoxeter, Cannock Brindley Heath & Seisdon, Leek Moorlands, Lichfield & Tamworth, Newcastle-under-Lyme & Maer, Stafford and Stoke- On – Trent.
While most Service leavers make a successful transition to civilian life, some younger veterans are experiencing serious social and financial difficulties and are reliant on food banks while others have ended up homeless or in prison. SSAFA reports that some of the most common needs of those vulnerable veterans who live in Staffordshire include – urgent debt support, essential food and groceries and clothing, home mobility adaptations for those who have been injured in service and training costs to help them back into work.
SSAFA exists to help all veterans and their families; its recent research identified a cohort of working-age veterans (aged 16-64yrs) who are living in considerable hardship. Amongst this cohort, over half (54%) said they did not have enough money for essential items and more than four out of ten said they could not afford daily living expenses. However, too often these individuals and their families are either too proud to ask for help or don’t know where to turn, or both.
Staffordshire veterans and their families who are in need, can contact SSAFA’s Forcesline which is confidential and free of the chain of command, either by Freephone on 0800 731 4880 or by emailing the team via www.ssafa.org.uk/gotyourback. The charity is also asking members of the public who may be concerned about a veteran to encourage them to contact SSAFA Forcesline for help.
David Swift (40yrs old from Merseyside) who joined the Army aged 17 but found it near-impossible to adjust to civilian life when he left, ending up living on the streets. David has been supported by SSAFA –
“In the space of a year I went from being a healthy young man in a great regiment to someone sitting in a park wondering what the point of my life was. You need help, but your pride is too important to you. You go from being this soldier everyone respects to being the lowest of the low. You do everything in your power not to ask for help. Sometimes you think your family would be better off without you.”
Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory, chief executive, SSAFA said:
“SSAFA understands that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen are resilient characters. Whilst serving the Nation they become fitter, more robust and more self-sufficient; they are rightly proud of their role and of themselves. However, for those individuals and for their families who find the transition out of the Armed Forces difficult, some are then too proud to ask for help. The aim of SSAFA’s Got your Back campaign is simple and the message is clear; ‘Those who have served this country and those who have supported them have protected our backs; don’t be too proud now to ask us to protect yours. Please call us.”