The successes of the Joining Forces programme
The Joining Forces programme has now ended
Joining Forces was an Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust supported programme in partnership with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. It was delivered by 12 local projects across England by local Age UKs and SSAFA branches. After 3 successful years, the programme has now ended. Many of the pages in this section will still be useful for information and advice. Alternatively, you can look at the relevant sections of the Age UK website.
Age UK, in partnership with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been supported by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to deliver a programme to support older veterans and their families and carers. With more than 89,000 people supported through this programme, it is difficult to sum up the great work delivered across the country by our local partners, so we’ve highlighted a handful of the successes below.
In the community
Through the local Age UKs that participated in the delivery of the programme, and with the support of SSAFA branches, we have supported more than 54,000 veterans and 35,000 family and carers. With the expert knowledge of both organisations, veterans have received versatile support. An important part of Joining Forces is companionship and providing opportunities for veterans to socialise with other veterans through lunch clubs and outings organised across the country.
This short video captures the essence of the programme and what it’s achieved.
"I'm so much happier now"
Bryan, 81, from Lancashire is one of the veterans Joining Forces has supported. Bryan did his National Service with the RAF. He now lives alone and didn’t marry or have children. Bryan has long-term visual impairment and recently suffered a number of falls. Despite his brother living closeby and visiting him regularly, Bryan described himself as a ‘recluse’. He became involved with Joining Forces after approaching his local RAF Wings Centre. He explained that he’d lost his confidence and wanted to tackle his isolation by getting more involved in social activities.
Age UK Lancashire spent time getting to know Bryan in order to understand the challenges he was facing and identify support available. Bryan joined the Community Car Scheme so he could remain independent and get around safely. He went on a 2 week holiday to Byng House in Southport through support from the Royal British Legion, and received a new passport (his first in 30 years) so that he could rediscover his love of travel by visiting Europe on walking holidays. Bryan also regularly attends monthly Veterans Lunch Clubs with like-minded veterans he now considers friends. Today, Bryan feels more connected with his local community.
Bryan’s health, emotional wellbeing and quality of life have all improved. “I’m so much happier now I can get out and about and socialise, I have regained my confidence,” he says.
We provided sessions of Dementia Maintenance Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (MCST), a group treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia that aims to engage and stimulate people in a friendly group setting. The sessions had a positive impact not only on the lives of the veterans participating, but their families and carers too; one older veteran’s family felt it has increased his interaction with relatives.
Through Age UK’s telephone befriending service Call in Time, the Joining Forces programme has matched older veterans with volunteers who have a served in the Armed Forces, forming new friendships through shared experiences.
We’ve also had the opportunity to trial a new element for the Call in Time service, where a group of older veterans join one call and speak to multiple people at once on a weekly basis. One of the older veterans says, “They all sound so nice – we all have a laugh.” When we spoke the veterans participating in the group call, 100% of them said they felt less lonely as a result.
A key area of work was the creation of an online hub of important information for veterans. Here are some of the articles you may have enjoyed over the years.
Applying for medals
If you were awarded a medal for service in any of the following forces, then you can apply.
- the Army
- the Royal Navy
- the Royal Marines
- the Royal Air Force (RAF)
- the Home Guard
- the Reserve Forces
If you have served in any of the UK Armed Forces, you're entitled to an Armed Forces veterans badge and it's totally free.
If you've served in the following, you can apply for your badge:
- Royal Navy
- Royal Marines
- Royal Air Force (RAF)
- volunteer or regular reserves
You can also apply on behalf of someone who has died, as long as you receive either:
- a War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension
- compensation under the Survivors Guaranteed Income Payment (SGIP).
You can apply directly by downloading the form from the from the GOV UK website.
And lastly, we wanted to say thank you to you for taking the time to read these articles and the Joining Forces newsletter. It has been such an important part of the programme and we hope you have found them helpful.
Joining Forces is funded through the Aged Veterans Fund funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds.