Extra investment to support veterans in Wales.
More funding for Wales’ specialist mental health service focused exclusively on military veterans, additional funding for Armed Forces Liaison Officers and a new resettlement guide to support people leaving the Armed Forces form part of a new package of more than £500,000 Welsh Government support for veterans.
- an additional £235,000 annually to fund Veteran National Health Service Wales (VNHSW) from 2021/22 onwards
- £275,000 per annum to fund Armed Forces Liaison Officers across Wales until 2023;
- £50,000 to train prosthetists in Wales in new technologies;
- £120,000 to support military charities in tackling loneliness and social isolation;
- £250,000 to support Armed Forces children
Government funding for the VNHSW, now £920,000pa, is an increase of 35%. In addition to creating Highly Specialist Veterans Clinical Lead posts within the service, the additional annual funding for 2021/22 maintains the provision of therapy previously supported for the last 3 years by Help for Heroes across Wales.
Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan said:
“The Veterans NHS Wales Service is the only national service of its kind in the UK for service related mental health conditions; it supports dedicated therapists in each health board to improve the mental health and wellbeing of veterans. Veterans can refer themselves and they will receive support from a therapist who has experience specifically in Service-related mental health issues.
“We are committed to supporting this extremely valuable service which benefits veterans of all ages and backgrounds across Wales.”
Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said:
“In the past year we have delivered a new Veteran’s Railcard in Wales, and the Welsh Government has joined the ‘Great Place to Work for Veterans’ initiative; providing guaranteed interviews for veterans who meet the basic job specifications when applying to join the civil service.
“We know that veterans have an incredibly valuable range of skills that they can contribute to our workplaces and our communities. This package of funding and support is focused on helping them to thrive. However, during the pandemic we have seen the challenges of loneliness and isolation increase and I’m eally pleased that Welsh Government funding has helped to address this for veterans across Wales.”
BLESMA, the military charity for limbless veterans, the VC Gallery in Haverfordwest, and the Bridgend Carers Centre are amongst the charities who have worked to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst veterans in Wales over the last year.
Before the pandemic, BLESMA hosted meals alongside digital training sessions; during the pandemic they transferred their book club to run online.
The Bridgend Carers Centre provided SIM cards and tablets to isolated veterans and supported them to get online. They also ran Tai Chi and meditation sessions.
The VC Gallery in Haverfordwest supported older veterans to gain digital skills and get online during the pandemic, kept in touch with regular phone calls, ran digital art clubs and provided food parcels and welfare checks to their most vulnerable members.
Notes to editors
This support package follows a Welsh Government scoping exercise that heard from over 1,000 veterans, families and organisations. In response to the feedback from the Armed forces community in Wales, the Welsh Government has been delivering wide range of support focused on mental health, children, support for amputees and tackling loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic.
Blesma Member, Roy, from Aberdare
“I am attending a Blesma dinner helped by funding from the Welsh Government. I am completing this Blesma Members feedback survey and I have
too many comments to cram in here. Blesma has helped me and my wife Diane in so many ways we can hardly thank Tom and Jason enough. They have really helped my wellbeing during a critical time and helped me to attend various activities with Blesma over the past year, including a Seniors Week and a trip to Normandy. Tom is also helping with my prosthetics needs and helped me get access to a micro-processor knee. The Blesma Wales team has made a significant and positive impact on mine and my wife’s life. Just knowing that you are part of a wider family, with the help and support on offer is fantastic. I now feel less isolated and enjoy getting together with others who struggle like me. I can talk to them and find out their story, and we can swap advice about our own issues.”
Roy’s wife Diane: “My life is quite stressful. Part of this is caused by the constant worry about my husband [amputee and advancing in age] and wanting him to be here and to have a good quality of life. We had to move to back Wales to look after my elderly mother, and we were taken away from friends and family. My husband gets so lonely and having events such as the Blesma dinners and brunches are a wonderful way of making us feel included. It’s such a treat for Roy
and to enjoy the company of others. It also helps me to relax too!”
From Bridgend Carers Centre:
“I wanted to say that my Dad has really got going with his tablet – it has
been of huge benefit to him during the lockdown – he is reading the papers every day and searching for things on the internet that he is interested in.
Sadly, he became very ill last week and was admitted to hospital. It is not Covid 19, thankfully, but there is so much risk attached to hospital admission,I am very scared for him. However, I took his tablet to the hospital and he is using it there too, although has ‘done something’ he can’t fix, so I am taking my son with me this afternoon so that hopefully the ward staff will bring the tablet to us so that our combined brains can sort out whatever has ‘glitched.’
The staff are very helpful but it is intensely frustrating not being able to see Dad. We have installed Skype on the tablet so I hope we can somehow get him using that so we can communicate better.
Anyway – we are very pleased that you gave him the tablet as it is really
helping him whilst in hospital and is very helpful in keeping him occupied
generally at this awful time. If anyone needs to know how successful your project has been – please feel free to quote this email. The tablet has given my Dad a completely new lease of life at the age of 89 and supported him through what is a very challenging time for us all.
Thanks very much indeed.”