The Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People Programme (VPPP) awards grants to regional charities to help service veterans in their times of need. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity in the East of England has benefitted from one such grant of £50,000 over two years, to train staff so they can better assist those in need of mental health support.
The VPPP is funded through the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund to develop better, more joined up lasting support for local veterans with mental health needs.
Jacob Shell, SSAFA East of England Regional Operations Support Manager said:
“The cost of living crisis and difficulties with housing are increasingly putting pressure on those who are vulnerable, with the attendant exacerbation of mental health problems.
“Our volunteers and staff have seen a significant rise in applications for help from the charity. The VPPP project has enabled SSAFA’s branches and Regional Office staff to access veteran specific training, delivered by Combat Stress, which has been vital to our ability to offer confident, joined-up assistance throughout our region.”
The VPPP has enabled SSAFA to connect with other charities working on veteran mental health in the region. This allows SSAFA easily to link veterans with a range of partners who are best placed to help clients with their mental health.
“To date I have met with Combat to Coffee, Step Together, Bridge for Heroes, and others to create and strengthen the links between our organisations. It has made a great deal of difference in the quality of care we are able to give our clients.”
Don, an ex-soldier, contacted SSAFA for crisis intervention. His relationship had broken down leading him to become homeless and he was sleeping rough. Don had no money or food. A local volunteer caseworker spoke to Don and, during this conversation, Don expressed suicidal intention, saying his situation felt hopeless. A volunteer was able to contact the regional office for full support and advice. Regional Office staff, trained via the VPPP grant, were able to take full control of all the necessary safeguarding action. They called Don back and ascertained that he was receiving help with his mental health. They were also able to get an emergency food voucher to him that same afternoon. Using their training, the staff member was able to keep in touch with Don and support him through his situation in the short, and long-term. For SSAFA staff to be able to do this safely and effectively, mental health and safeguarding training is essential.
“My regional office is grateful to the VPPP for enabling us to deal with mental health situations like Don’s in a confident and safe manner. It makes an enormous difference to us to know that we are truly in a position to help all of our clients.”