The Association of ex-Service Drop-in Centres (ASDIC) was set up last year to connect like-minded organisations that manage veterans’ drop-in centres…

The number of drop-in centres is steadily increasing across the UK. The services offered are broad, and veterans and other members of the Armed Forces community may go to seek help, advice or simple companionship. It is thought that there are currently about 60 drop-ins in operation with more being discovered all the time. 25 have already joined ASDIC.

An ASDIC drop-in is loosely defined as being open at least once a month, although many are open daily, and is usually run independently. They will draw from several supporting organisations such as the Service charities (e.g. TRBL, SSAFA, H4H, Combat Stress) and health and welfare agencies in the state and third sectors (e.g. NHS Transition Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Citizens’ Advice Bureau, local charities).

Any veteran (or their family) can go to a drop-in unannounced to seek whatever help they need or merely enjoy a convivial chat over a cuppa. All are made to feel welcome and listened to – informality is the key.

No two drop-ins are alike, and they go by various names such as drop-ins, hubs, groups or centres. Some are well established with charitable status, while others are embryonic as they develop their structure and financial base.

Some larger drop-ins operate from more than one centre, others are close enough to visit each other and a few have local outreach programmes.

However, the majority operate in isolation, knowing little about the rest doing similar work around the country. The one thing they all do have in common is a passion to help those in need.

The ASDIC network brings them together so that they can support each other and share ideas and experience. This will not only help them to avoid reinventing the wheel but also hopefully help them to raise standards, thereby improving their services to the veteran community.

ASDIC also makes it easier for the wide range of delivery partners to offer their services, extending the reach of the national and regional charities. This is becoming increasingly evident as more local and regional organisations become aware of ASDIC and the drop-in centres in their area.

Once a year ASDIC has a national conference for drop-ins, delivery partners and other stakeholders. The first conference (2017) was at Stoll (London) and was a great success. This year’s conference will be at the Northern Design Centre at Gateshead on Tuesday 13th November.

The mix of presentations from drop-ins, delivery partners and other stakeholders will have something for everyone, but last year the performance of the drop-ins stole the show, being both moving and motivating.

For further information and details of current members see the ASDIC website. If you know of a drop-in which is not listed on the website, please contact the ASDIC team. It may be one we have not yet discovered!