Today we want to spotlight the Unforgotten Forces project organised by our friends at Age Scotland, who we have previously collaborated with on veteran’s housing issues. We spoke to Doug Anthoney, Veterans’ Lead and Unforgotten Forces Coordinator at Age Scotland, about the work Unforgotten Forces do.
Can you give us a quick introduction to Unforgotten Forces – what do you do?
Unforgotten Forces is a partnership of charities committed to boosting the health and wellbeing of ex-service men and women, age 60 and older, living in Scotland. It offers a doorway to camaraderie and extra support, if needed. Partners work together to ensure the right support, from the right charities, is available without hassle.
What encouraged you to set up the project?
More than half of Scotland’s estimated 220,000 Armed Forces veterans are aged 65 or older, as are many of their dependants. Unforgotten Forces aims to meet their developing needs in later life by combining the expertise and capability of Armed Forces and specialist civilian charities. It also aims to reach the many older ex-service men and women who currently miss out on extra support available to them; because they don’t know it exists, or because they don’t consider themselves to be veterans, something for example not uncommon among people who did post-war National Service.
What kind of help do you offer to older veterans?
Unforgotten Forces offers practical help, including transport, welfare support and, in Highland and Moray, a handyperson services. It alleviates loneliness and social isolation through community support visits, one to one and group telephone friendship, veterans’ activity centres, and local Men’s Sheds. It provides support for sensory loss, during periods of NHS treatment (in four NHS areas), and for positive mental health. It also provides specialist later life and Armed Forces information and advice.
Video introducing the Unforgotten Forces project. Source: Age Scotland (2021).
Is there an achievement that you are most proud of?
The Soldiering On Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country, and the diverse people and groups who work together in support of the Armed Forces Community. In 2019 Unforgotten Forces was announced winner of the ‘Working Together’ category at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards ceremony in London.
That’s fantastic, congratulations. If someone reading this thinks they or someone they know could benefit from your support, what is the best way to get in touch with you?
At www.unforgottenforces.scot you can find out more about the range of support available from Unforgotten Forces. If you identify a partner service that’s right for you, you can get in touch with them directly. If you are unsure what support you need, or who can help, you can call the Age Scotland helpline 0800 12 44 222 which will connect you with the partner or partners best placed to support you, without a need for you to explain your situation repeatedly.
Excellent! Is there anything else you would like to share?
Unforgotten Forces publishes a free magazine three times a year offering information and inspiration for older ex-service men and women. We can post this to your home, provide copies for a veterans’ club or group you belong to, and share it with you by email. To join the mailing list, visit www.unforgottenforces.scot or call the Age Scotland helpline 0800 12 44 222.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the support Unforgotten Forces offer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them using the contact details provided above. You might also be interested in the range of practical guides on matters such as social opportunities, housing and health and wellbeing Age Scotland has produced for older veterans living in Scotland.