Recent initiatives supporting our Armed Forces community in 2018-19
The Veterans and Families Mental Health Support Worker continues to work within 2gether NHS Mental Health Trust. This post has now been made a permanent position and has supported over 100 clients over the last 24 months.
The Royal British Legion has funded a drug and alcohol misuse caseworker at Addaction specifically to support veterans.
Taurus (Herefordshire GP consortium), is working to encourage all GP practices in the county to become NHS Veteran Accredited practices. Eight surgeries have already achieved this status, with more on the way.
The Wye Valley NHS Trust is applying to become an accredited member of the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance. The Trust would be one of 32 Hospitals to be awarded ‘Veteran Aware’.
The partnership has engaged with Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire to support a new dementia service for veterans in Herefordshire.
The Defence Medical Welfare Service ‘Aged Veterans Project’ (for veterans 65 and over and their families and carers), continues to be based at Wye Valley NHS Trust and Herefordshire Council. Over the two year project there have been 110 referrals, 105 additional beneficiaries and 505 supportive contacts.
The Cart Shed in Norton Canon continues to offer opportunities to try new skills and improve well-being in an outdoor environment. The Royal British Legion continuation of funding has been secured for the Veteran Mentor post, based at The Cart Shed.
The Veteran self-build in Leominster is now underway. The land transfer from Herefordshire Council to Stonewater Housing has been completed and work began on site in September. A total of 19 accommodation units will be built. The number available to veterans will be flexible but at least nine veterans and their families will benefit from housing and integration into the community. It is anticipated that the scheme will be completed by July 2021.
The Buchanan Trust, continues to offer a range of short term accommodation units on their estate at Bosbury. The Trust has secured planning permission to build more accommodation units and are now seeking funding opportunities.
Improved awareness and collaboration between agencies and the Housing Solutions Team around social housing opportunities and the identification of veterans.
There has been an increase in the number of local service children and schools accessing the Service Pupil Premium (SPP), as a result of better liaison with schools. Schools have also been alerted to the Educational Support Fund. Herefordshire Council’s Education Team has been assisting with school applications for military children.
Business and community
In conjunction with Wolverhampton University’s Unsung Hero programme, Business Start-up days have been hosted to support armed forces spouses in taking up training opportunities.
An additional 20 businesses and organisations have signed this year bringing the total for Herefordshire to 60.
Better engagement with local employers through a bespoke breakfast event in October to showcase the work of the local armed forces covenant and identifying new ways for employers to engage with the covenant.
Improved communication channels including: an overhaul to improve navigation and access to local support on the armed forces covenant web pages, a quarterly e-bulletin, regular bi-weekly updates for stakeholders to include news, events and insights, social media (Twitter and Facebook), being used to actively support greater engagement with communities and businesses.
An Armed Forces Operations Group has been introduced to bring together caseworkers from organisations and agencies who support the veterans. The group discuss complex cases to improve outcomes and greater collaboration.
An Armed Forces Awareness programme has been developed, in partnership with the Defence Medical Welfare Service, to help customer facing staff and statutory services have a better understanding of the Covenant, greater awareness of the challenges facing the Armed Forces community and where to signpost for additional support.
An overhaul of the partnership’s governance has been undertaken with the introduction of sub groups for key topic areas, with designated leads. These changes aim to ensure that the partnership is making best use of expertise through focused meetings that align to the partnerships’ objectives.
The partnership co-ordinated and supported a weeklong programme during Armed Forces Week. It included Flag Raising in the market towns and in the city, Freedom Parades in Hereford and Leominster, a commemoration unveiling in Queenswood, a film and lecture series at the Courtyard and Sounding the Retreat at Suvla Barracks.
The Cart Shed led valuable research identifying the barriers to veterans accessing services.
A Bugle Breakfast event was organised by the Rifles County Colonel to promote the role of Reservists and the benefits of employing Armed Forces personnel in business. The Royal National College of the Blind and Herefordshire & Worcestershire’s Chamber of Commerce signed the Covenant during the event, as well as outlining their commitment.
A Veteran Support Centre Manager was appointed in April with the Veteran Support Centre opening for the first time on 11 November 2019. Located in the heart of the city at 19 West Street and open for three days a week, the Centre will work in tandem with the Military Helpdesk to increase access five days a week.
A public consultation has just been undertaken through a veteran survey that ran for six weeks. The results of the survey will help to inform the partnership’s Armed Forces Needs Assessment to ensure they are addressing priorities and areas of need.