A new telephone support service for ex-service personnel has been launched by the Armed Forces charity Alabaré. The service, which started in July, is helping veterans who are struggling with their mental health by providing specialist support to those in need, guidance and advice, including coping strategies.
The service has been created specifically in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A recent survey has found that there has been a 50% increase in veterans stating they are not managing their mental health well compared to before the pandemic started.* Alabaré provides support to people experiencing a wide range of mental health concerns through their Riverside Sanctuary service which opened earlier this year. Initially providing telephone support, the team are now also able to provide face-to-face support from their new centre and its Place of Calm service, in Salisbury.
Emergency Covid-19 funding provided by the Ministry of Defence, Cabinet Office and the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust now means that the team can offer additional support specifically for veterans who are struggling with their mental wellbeing. Emma Wellock, Alabaré Riverside Sanctuary Senior Service Manager and a Registered Mental Health Nurse, explained what the new veterans’ service can offer, saying: “The last few months have been incredibly hard for many people and taken a real toll on the mental health on individuals from all backgrounds. “Our experience shows that Armed Forces Veterans are often dealing with existing trauma or mental health struggles, which may have resurfaced or been exasperated by lockdown or the added pressure that Covid-19 has brought. “This is why we are grateful to be able to offer this additional service at this key time.”
She added that the aim was to work alongside veterans who might be struggling with their emotional or mental wellbeing and offer them non-judgemental support and explore different coping strategies and additional support avenues. “We can all benefit from a listening ear, but equally we know how hard it can be to reach out sometimes and make that first step. “The team here are all very experienced and have some understanding of the thoughts, feeling and challenges that individuals may be experiencing.
“Every Veteran is an individual and we are here to listen and help find ways to move forward positively for each person based on their own personal circumstances.”
Karen Langley, team leader at Riverside Sanctuary and a veteran, added: “Even though my family would probably say I’m a tough cookie, I know the benefit of having that place to just let out your feelings, that person to talk to, somewhere easy where you don’t feel someone is going to try and fix you, but they are going to help aid you. “Someone who will support you, listen to you and come alongside. That’s what we do at Riverside Sanctuary, and we are helping veterans who need someone right now, giving them that additional support that make a huge difference.”
Alabaré are specialists in providing support for vulnerable veterans having opened their first home dedicated to ex-forces personnel more than 10 years ago. The charity now operates its Homes for Veterans accommodation for vulnerable and homeless veterans across the South and South West of England, and Wales.
Anne Williams, Alabaré’s Operations Manager for Veterans, said: “We are delighted that this new helpline will reach even more Veterans and ensure they are getting the help they through these difficult times. “Through our work and Homes for Veterans, we know how mental ill-health can impact veterans and the additional problems it can lead to. “It is fantastic that this service will be able to offer a first line of support to those who recognise they will benefit from someone to talk to and can help direct the course of someone’s journey back to recovery.”
Alabaré provides support and accommodation to more than 115 veterans every night. Of those currently supported by the charity, 41% of Veterans had stated that they had issues with their mental health. The new veterans helpline service has been made possible thanks to Emergency Covid-19 funding provided by the Ministry of Defence, Cabinet Office and the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
Veterans wishing to access the telephone service can do so by calling 01722 466680 between 9 am and 11 pm, seven days a week.