The Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten programme: exploring how it supported vulnerable veterans

September 1, 2021

In the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer awarded £10 million to the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund.

Part of this funding was to be an emergency funding programme, available immediately, to help alleviate suffering and loneliness in veterans caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

Enabling immediate support for vulnerable veterans with reduced social contact

In April 2020, the Trust launched the Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten programme; working hard to ensure the funding was delivered in a very short time frame, to provide immediate support to vulnerable veterans most likely to be adversely impacted by the restrictions imposed on us all during Covid-19.

The speedy development of the programme was assisted through our partnerships with three organisations: Age UK, Cobseo and the Association of Ex-Service Drop-In Centres (ASDIC).

In May 2020, we made 120 awards, worth £2,394,698, to local Age UK branches, eligible Cobseo members and ADIC members.

By the middle of June, at least half of these projects had already received their first payment and were supporting vulnerable veterans.

Exploring the impact of this emergency funding

Through an evaluation of the programme, the Trust has explored the impact of this funding, talking with grant holders to find out more about their experiences and exploring the key themes that emerged from the programme, which were:

  • veterans staying connected  
  • veterans learning new skills
  • veterans supporting veterans
  • veterans in partnership.

Our evaluation has shown that the projects we supported fell into one of four main categories.

  • Home deliveries of essential items.
  • Home deliveries of items to improve wellbeing.
  • Social contact through telephone or digital platforms.
  • Garden and maintenance services.

We’re thrilled to discover that there were almost 30,000 direct beneficiaries from this funding, with 47% of the funding benefiting those veterans aged 65 and over.

Keeping in touch online

One recipient, the Veterans’ Support Association, received £5,000 for hobby packs for veterans to complete at home during lockdown.

The group set up a closed Facebook group for veterans to communicate with each other when they worked on their hobby packs. John from the Veterans’ Association told us: “Sometimes the posts just exploded. One guy would post a picture of his model and ask the others for the best glue to use, or something, and suddenly there would be hundreds of comments.

“We spent £800 per month, that works out at about £20 per veteran that asked us for help. It’s not a huge amount of money to keep a life intact and perhaps save a family.”

Digital bubbles

Care for Veterans received £19,345 to repurpose an unused sensory room into an IT suite that included electronic equipment to stay in touch with loved ones and to build relationships within their bubbles.

Craig Burley, one of the Rehabilitation Technicians at Care for Veterans told us: “You either do it or they lose it. If rehabilitation stops for six months, you see the residents decline rapidly”.

Find out more

Via the Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten programme, the Trust delivered swift, agile financial support to organisations who were best placed to deliver it throughout the tough Covid-19 lockdowns in the UK.

We invite you to read our programme evaluation and discover more about the positive impact this emergency funding had on our vulnerable veterans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our evaluation highlights several of our grant holders’ experiences in depth. Learn more about their stories and how they used funding to meet the needs of their beneficiaries by exploring our Knowledge Network.

A list of all the grants awarded under the Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten programme is available to read, here.