We take our nations freedom for granted and don't understand the consequences that our Armed Forces Military and supporting civilian personnel have to face when they leave the camaraderie and supported military working environment and try to return to civilian life.
A direct consequence of the lack of continued support is that the single biggest population coming through the Criminal Justice System are ex-military and this sadly is also the case for the prison population. (Howard League For Penal Reform-nhs) Our charity aims to intervene at these critical moments in order to prevent a downward spiral of re-offending and to implement a individualised support program to enable our veterans and ex-military personnel to find a meaningful purpose within civilian society. Often we don't realise the impact that this has on the families of these men and women; often ending in divorce and acrimony. This has a direct effect on their children and consequently they are categorized as 'disadvantaged' in the education system.
Often the adjustments required to move from a military career to a civilian career are fraught. Many clients explain that in the military everything was 'black or white', they knew what you had to do and they did it. However in civilian life for them it's '50 shades of grey'. There is no camaraderie and people say things they don't mean which can be incredibly frustrating. On top of that they have to deal with their combat experiences, which they can't share with civilians, because they don't understand. They feel lonely and marginalised and worthless and begin to question their existence.
We have recently expanded our provision and have become a service provider for the Probation Service who refer any serving or ex-military personnel to our program. Our program has four components: Water sports therapy (poly-vagal intervention- this provides relief for PTSD, trauma, anxiety and depression) that takes place at our Southbourne seafront location; academic and vocational qualifications delivery, that is based on an agreed career pathway; mentoring, group and 1-1 support on any personal, family, financial or social issues that will support the client towards a resolution; Unpaid Work program (community pay-back) that is part of service provision agreement with the Probation Service and the clients community order. Our unpaid Work Program benefits the clients immensely as it brings together the veterans/ex-service personnel into an environment of camaraderie, where empathy and support are shared within the group. The funding would be used to buy essential transport and equipment for our Community Pay-back program as we have reached 48 client referrals and this is expected to increase to over 90 in the coming year. We now need appropriate transport and equipment to meet our current need. This would allow us to take on bigger projects and replace some of our existing equipment.
Additionally we run BBQ events during the summer at our seafront location to bring the families together and allow them to enjoy a fun day using our SUPs and other equipment. This environment allows for relationship building and stronger bonds between the family members, especially if there have been relationship breakdowns.
We want our clients to have stability in their lives and make them feel of value in our communities. Often it is not until a few years after they have left the Armed Forces Services that their past experiences catch up with them and the 'wheels fall of the wagon'. They have completed many years of service with an unblemished record and no sooner than they are back in civilian life, things go wrong. They have a lot to offer but need to have a support mechanism to fall back on when things go wrong and that's where we fit in. We offer unconditional and non-judgemental support with one aim in mind. To support those who have served us