Sylvia and Joining Forces
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.
On a recent visit to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, as part of the Joining Forces project, we got to sit down with Sylvia. Sylvia worked in signals intelligence during World War Two and told us about her experiences, as well as the ways in which Joining Forces has assisted her in more recent years.
Watch our video to hear what she had to say.
Sylvia left school at 15 to work in an office, before being conscripted. “[It] changed my life,” she says.
Sylvia was trained as a high speed intercept radio operator, a role vital to gaining inttelligence. She was even sent to Japan to teach signalling there. In recent years Sylvia has received the Bletchley Park commemorative badge, recognising the vital service of those who worked at Bletchley Park and its outstations (Sylvia worked at the latter).
“Many veterans never forget what they did, so I thought ‘There’ll be other people that will be feeling as I do’,” says Sylvia of the years following her military service, explaining how Joining Forces came into her life. “At Joining Forces, everyone is ready to talk about what they did – whether that’s releasing tension that’s still there I’m not qualified to say – but they certainly enjoy [it] and feel relieved having told someone else what their work was.”
“One of the three people [here] discovered I have hearing loss,” says Sylvia of one of the many benefits of Joining Forces. “The end product was that I have been given the most magnificent hearing aids and I’m very, very grateful for that."
Michaela Forty, Senior Independent Living Co-ordinator at Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland explains why helping to secure these hearing aids for Sylvia was so important: “Loss of hearing can have a huge impact on a person, increasing the risk of loneliness and isolation as they withdraw from social activities because they struggle to hear conversations. We were happy to support Sylvia in her application to the RBL Veterans Hearing Fund. She is now delighted with her new state of the art hearing aids. The RBL funding, for veterans whose hearing loss was as a result of serving in the armed forces, has improved the quality of life for many of the veterans, including Sylvia.”
"If it wasn't for my mess tin I wouldn't be here..."
On our visit to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland we also met 94-year-old Gordon, a D-Day veteran who served in the Leicester Regiment. He tells us about his war experiences and adjustments to life since.