The SSAFA Scotland Conference saw 100 volunteers come together and focus on best practice, dealing with the increased demand from complex cases for support and new regulatory compliance…

Closer collaboration with SSAFA was a recurring theme in dealing with the various challenges facing the military community living in Scotland to ensure the right support is available at the right time.

Graham Meacher, the new Convenor of the SSAFA Scottish Resources Committee said: “Last year SSAFA supported over 4,300 people from the Armed Forces’ community in Scotland. We wanted to use this year’s conference to highlight the fact that our volunteers are dealing with cases which are becoming increasingly complex against a backdrop of more regulatory compliance and new procedures.

“This is a challenging environment, in which to operate and we wanted to use the conference to reassure, listen and support. The conference was an important time for SSAFA volunteers to come together to share experiences, thoughts and reflect on the work we are doing with the military community and identify what challenges lie ahead for those we are here to help.”

In attendance was Colonel Charlie Wallace, the recently appointed Veterans’ Commissioner, who explained his role and priorities; working closely with charities, local authorities and health boards to help provide greater support for Armed Forces personnel. As a veteran, Charlie is very familiar with the great work that SSAFA does.

Keynote speeches were delivered by Poppyscotland, the new Veterans’ Commissioner and the senior Royal Navy officer in Scotland, along with Captain Chris Smith RN, Commander Scotland & Northern Ireland, who talked about the forthcoming increased Royal Navy presence as Faslane becomes the largest naval base in the UK.

The Army and RAF were represented by Mary Gallagher, Controller Benevolence of the Royal Logistic Corps and Paul Hughesdon, Director of Policy and Welfare at the RAF Benevolent Fund. The conference was sponsored by The Officers’ Association Scotland and Chief Executive Mary-Claire McFarlane provided an informative talk on the charity, which works closely with SSAFA.

The two-day conference ended with Andy McIntosh, who shared his remarkable story of recovery from major injury both physical and mental. From almost losing his life, Andy – with the help of SSAFA – has been able to move to turn his life around to the extent that he is now a volunteer with SSAFA as Branch Secretary Lanarkshire.