A new counselling service for older veterans has been launched today.
The Aged Veterans Counselling Service offers free counselling and support for aged veterans as well as their families and carers.
The service, which has been set up by a consortium of six military welfare and veterans support charities, provides free counselling to any UK veteran born before 1 January 1950. The project is funded by the MoD’s Aged Veterans Fund and the consortium is led by Blind Veterans UK who are joined by BLESMA The Limbless Veterans, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Naval Association, Scottish War Blinded and STOLL.
The counselling service is based upon a similar project, supporting members of Blind Veterans UK that has been operating since 2012. It will provide counselling to help veterans cope with a variety of issues including depression, anxiety, loneliness, bereavement, or anything that is causing a sense of isolation, loss or social exclusion.
All counselling conversations between veterans and counsellors are strictly confidential and will not be shared with any third party. One veteran who has made use of the previous service offered by Blind Veterans UK said:
“Counselling was far more useful than I ever imagined. The counsellor was a lovely lady, easy to talk to and professional. We got on extremely well and I could speak my mind.”
A wife of a blind veteran who also received support from the service said:
“I didn’t think I would like counselling but I really hit it off with the counsellor and thought she was very skilled. The sessions helped me through my bereavement and gave me the space to grieve.
“My improved attitude helped my walking get better too. I had poo-pooed counselling before but this time I saw positive results within 4 weeks of starting. I even recommended counselling to others.”
The Aged Veterans Counselling Service will be administered by Wellbeing Solutions Management (WSM) who have administered the similar service for Blind Veterans UK.
Julie McCarthy, Head of Welfare Policy at Blind Veterans UK, said:
“Our service through Blind Veterans UK provided counselling to more than 600 veterans and their immediate family and carers. WSM provided over 5,000 sessions of counselling, 80% of which were home visit counselling sessions.
“It is absolutely fantastic that veterans’ welfare charities have been able to come together to expand this service and provide a vital lifeline for all aged veterans across the country.”
Steven Stanbury, Commercial Director at WSM, said:
“All of our counsellors are carefully selected, professionally qualified and accredited with the appropriate and recognised and professional body in their field of practice.
“We estimate we will be able to provide counselling to approximately 1,000 aged veterans per year and have seen what a difference in makes to the lives of veterans and their families.”
If you or someone you know would gain help from this service you can find out more at agedveteranscounselling.org.uk or by calling Wellbeing Solutions on 020 7708 5000.