Could you rise to the challenge and befriend an ex-services veteran

Over 2,000 veterans in Scotland contacted Legion Scotland last year looking for a befriender to help them combat loneliness and isolation.

Monday, 11th April 2016, 4:37 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2016, 4:39 pm
US Marines walk pass a dismounted statue of Saddam Hussein on Baghdad's al-Fardous square 10 April 2003. As the regime of Saddam Hussein collapsed, questions marks hung 10 April, 2003 over the fate of Saddam Hussein and the task of rebuilding Iraq. Despite almost universal euphoria at the downfall of Saddam, symbolised by the toppling 09 April of a huge statue of the Iraqi leader, the United States and its key ally Britain warned the 22-day war was not at an end. So far, US forces suffered at least 101 dead, their British allies about 30. Thousands of Iraqis are believed to have been killed. AFP PHOTO PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Legion Scotland, (Royal British Legion Scotland) is the largest ex-services membership charity in Scotland and due to this demand the charity is looking to attract more people to provide friendship to ex-servicemen and women, young and old.

In 2015, 2,200 requests for befriender support were made either from a veteran directly or a family member. Research throughout the years has shown that veterans of all ages and backgrounds can encounter a range of challenges upon leaving the Armed Forces including isolation, unemployment and housing issues.

Legion Scotland’s Wellbeing Co-ordinator William McMaster, said: ”Legion Scotland’s befriending service makes a massive difference to the general wellbeing of the veterans. Some members of the ex-service community have had no interaction for months and it is heart breaking. Everybody needs to talk. I had to struggle on my own to get better while I battled depression and homelessness so I hate the idea of someone having to go through a similar situation.

“I’ve received letters, emails and numerous phone calls from veterans thanking us for the work that we’ve done because we’ve changed their lives completely.”

Local Legion Scotland befrienders receive full training and can give as little as two hours a week of their time visiting a veteran, many of whom have no one else to talk to. They can also provide advice and signpost them to vital support services run by Legion Scotland and other military charities which can have a long lasting positive change on their life.

Stephen Baird, Head of Wellbeing, Legion Scotland said: “The amount of people contacting us last year is a stark reminder that veterans across Scotland are in need of support. Our befriending service is simple but highly effective. We know that some veterans may feel isolated and lonely after leaving the military and having someone to talk to, share a laugh with and confide in can make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Legion Scotland is the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland working at the heart of the veterans’ community. With nearly 170 branches, 70 clubs and over 31,000 members, Legion Scotland provides essential wellbeing and befriending services for all veterans - whether they left service yesterday or 50 years ago - as well as providing disablement pension advice, comradeship events, grants and remembrance services.

To find out more about Legion Scotland’s befriending service including information on how to volunteer contact Stephen Baird on 0131 550 1560 or [email protected]