Veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress is to move out of its Scottish treatment centre Hollybush House in Ayr to new premises in Edinburgh to enable the charity to treat as many veterans as possible. The exact location will be announced once negotiations are concluded, with the move taking place in the coming months.
The site in Edinburgh will provide veterans with a more accessible location through its proximity to city centre public transport links, as well as providing a modern, fit for purpose venue for the charity to deliver its treatment. Services will include outpatient and residential treatment, art therapy, occupational therapy and peer support. Combat Stress will also open a smaller base in Glasgow and operate more than 20 community-based clinics across Scotland.
While Hollybush House has served the charity well for more than 30 years, the building is no longer suitable for Combat Stress to deliver its modern services. The limited access to public transport means that the location is not easily accessible for some veterans and has affected Combat Stress’ ability to recruit enough specialist staff needed to provide the clinical treatment. In addition, extensive repairs need to be undertaken which require ongoing significant financial outlay.
During the pandemic, the charity’s clinicians and Peer Support Service have been providing veterans across Scotland with treatment and support online. This will continue as a permanent part of the charity’s services. In addition, Combat Stress will resume in-person community-based treatment in Scotland in July, with in-person peer support to follow at a later date. After the move to Edinburgh, and when safe and based on individual needs, the charity will provide in-person treatment – including residential – at the new premises.
Those veterans currently being supported by Combat Stress will not have their treatment impacted by the move of premises, and new referrals will continue to be welcomed into the charity’s services.
Jeff Harrison, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Combat Stress, said:
“We will be very sad to leave Hollybush House after 35 years. We’ve always had incredible support from the people of Ayr, as evidenced by the huge turnouts each year at our annual fete.
“It is Combat Stress’ aim to help as many veterans as possible with military trauma and we can best achieve this by relocating to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Not only will it be easier for veterans to access our services because of the better transport links, but by modernising our services veterans will benefit from our specialist, cutting-edge support.
“We are talking to our staff in Scotland about how this move will affect them and will do all we can to support them ahead of the move.”