Feature of the Month

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It certainly does not seem like just over a year since Forgotten Veterans UK were recognised by the Charity Commission of England and Wales and given the Registration No. 1175556. But what a year it has been!

l am proud to say that FVUK are totally unique in the way we operate and the way we conduct ourselves, in supporting Veterans throughout the UK, on a daily basis. Many important things have been achieved this year for both FVUK and the Veteran community and the infuence FVUK has had in much of these changes has not gone unnoticed and has brought about real change to many areas of Veteran support.

The cornerstone to our Charity has always been to support Veterans in need and their families at times of crisis, often through no fault of their own. This support is provided by the FVUK Buddy Team.

All through 2018 our social media membership has grown, now reaching over 17,000 followers on our Facebook group and 9,000 on Twitter. And perhaps not surprisingly, as a consequence of that growth, the workload by our Buddy Team has also grown. It is no exaggeration that the Buddy Team Manager, Angie O'Carroll and her small, dedicated and experienced team are constantly dealing with referrals both from individuals and other agencies and charities. And that included a referral that came in on Christmas day this year! The work of supporting those in need is literally non-stop.

To give you some idea the Buddy Team have dealt with over 100 different referrals this year; that is, on average, a new case every 3.5 days! And these were from all around the UK. Of these cases at least half required some form of financial input from FVUK to assist with food and/or utility payments. FVUK purchased white goods and furniture for Veterans including beds and mattresses, sofas, cookers, fridge freezers, a washing machine and a lot of various items of clothing. The Team also assisted with transport costs. They gave support and a befriending service to over 30 referrals and advised on housing, benefits, employment and health related issues. And on top of this FVUK sent out 4 working mobile phones with SIM cards and credit, to Veterans with no form of communication, to assist them in getting back in touch with friends and family.

The main difference between FVUK and some of the larger charities is that we are a first-to-aid service, our support is instant. There is no waiting around for a meeting to carry out an assessment. We deal with the issue there and then which is often within hours of receiving a referral. And it can be critical particularly if there are any potential self harming concerns, and yes the Buddy Team have dealt with some of these this year, reaching a successful outcome in all cases.

In November this year FVUK opened the Basha Project, a specialist retreat at Fort Cumberland, designed for Veterans to come and stay and get some much needed R&R. This is one of the first of its kind in the UK and now FVUK have established one, we are planning more around the Country. If nothing else it gives our Veterans an opportunity to be in amongst fellow like minded Veterans but also with access to specialist support in a number of areas.

Also in November of 2018 FVUK marked the Centenary of the Armistice in a truly unique way. FVUK produced a book, For Your Tomorrow - 100 Years of War Poetry. This is not just a book of poems, this is a book of the history of the Great War. Told in part through poetry written at the time of the war, with detailed biographies for all the poets, it also recounts specific historical events alongside images caught at the time of the fighting. This is a truly remarkable book and keepsake, very fitting for any bookshelf.

Earlier this year some members of FVUK along with representatives of some other small charities visited Westminster and had a successful meeting. Following that, FVUK have established good contacts and are now working closely, with others, to try to bring about Governmental-led change to the way Veterans are treated in general but also promoting changes to the way health services approach the subjects of mental health and PTSD in the Veteran community. This is real progress and will be ongoing in 2019.

For all of these things that have been achieved this year, on behalf of the Trustees and Gary, l do want to say a big thank you to Angie and her Buddy Team. l also want to say a very big thank you to all our Managers in the various areas who keep the business running, the Fort Team and all our Admin Team, all of whom are volunteers.

And lastly l want to say a huge thank you to all our followers, members and supporters for your donations, your support and your belief in FVUK. And to all those who have volunteered for us in any capacity this year. You have been fantastic!

FVUK are Changing the World for Veterans, through Selfless Commitment to Others and we will continue to do so in 2019.