New quarterly results released by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity show the demand has never been higher for Forcesline, its free helpline which is independent from the chain of command.
The first half of 2018(1) saw 14,339 incoming contacts by telephone or email, compared to 12,888 for the same period in 2017. This represents an 11% rise in serving personnel, veterans and their families reaching out to SSAFA for support.
Debt is one of the main reasons for incoming contacts to Forcesline with Advisors also seeing an increase in calls from those having negative and suicidal thoughts.
Due to changes and reassessments of those eligible for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), many veterans and their families who were already struggling to live on low incomes are now being cut to the bone.
Recent research from SSAFA found 87% of veterans helped by SSAFA had experienced financial problems since leaving the Armed Forces with the average net household income under £17,000 per year. As a result, 79% of veterans surveyed said they struggled to make ends meet at the end of the month.
SSAFA has been supporting the Armed Forces community for 133 years and its experience suggests that if concerns are not addressed early, problems around employment, finances and mental health could escalate to a stage where more drastic intervention is necessary.
As mental health campaigns become more prominent in the media and storylines in popular TV programmes address the issue of suicide, SSAFA is seeing an increase of calls to our Forcesline Advisors from people dealing with negative and suicidal thoughts.
In response to this, SSAFA’s Forcesline Advisors are closely supported and trained so they can best deal with these types of calls. Advisors also have monthly sessions with an external counsellor to help process any ongoing issues.
Bill Grant, Forcesline Manager at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity explained:
“Despite the concerning increase in the number of calls to Forcesline, it is reassuring that the Armed Forces community feels comfortable contacting our service for support.
“It’s important to us that we always give our callers the space to talk through the challenges they are facing so we can best support them. If you are a member of the Armed Forces, a veteran or a family member of someone who has served and in need of practical, emotional or financial advice, we are here for you.”
Behind the helpline lies SSAFA’s network of nearly 6,000 volunteers who provide practical, financial and emotional support to those in need. Beginning this vital work in 1885, SSAFA is the oldest tri-service, military charity running in the UK.
Everyone faces different challenges, so SSAFA takes a tailored approach to meet the individual’s needs. A call to Forcesline can be the start of the journey and SSAFA is there to serve the Armed Forces family every step of the way.
If you are a member of the Armed Forces, veteran or a family member in need, contact Forcesline which is independent from the chain of command on 0800 731 4880.
Notes to editors
- Statistics relate to the first half of the year 1 January – 30 June.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Every year our staff and team of volunteers help more than 67,000 people, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts.