Forces Friends, a project providing support to older military veterans, has been awarded the Working Together Award, sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), at the Soldiering On national awards…

The annual Soldiering On Awards provide national recognition for exceptional individuals and organisations working within the Armed Forces Community, and is run by the Soldiering On Through Life Trust. The Working Together award, which recognises an organisation that has demonstrated a commitment to collaboration with the Armed Forces Community, is sponsored for the second time by FiMT.

Forces Friends is the partnership between Age UK Nottingham & Nottinghamshire, and The Royal British Legion providing support to older military veterans experiencing isolation or loneliness. The organisation provides trained volunteer visiting services to deliver support for isolated and lonely military veterans and their dependents aged over 60.

The project provides short term support to enable older veterans and their dependents to reconnect with social networks and help overcome the problems of loneliness. Their trained volunteers, mainly from Forces or Royal British Legion backgrounds, offer one-to-one home visits to provide companionship and social support, as well as trips into the wider community.

Nicholas Rhodes from Age UK Notts as well as Digby Bown and Linda Flecknell from The Royal British Legion, on behalf of Forces Friends, were presented with the award by Hans Pung, Chairman of the Forces in Mind Trust, at an awards ceremony held in London’s Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel.

John Anderton from Age UK Notts, said: “The award means a lot to us as an organisation because it recognises the very valuable contribution made by our volunteers to improving the lives of older veterans and their dependents. We acknowledge the support of the Royal British Legion at branch and area level and it’s been a pleasure to work in such close collaboration.”

Linda Flecknell from The Royal British Legion, said: “Forces Friends is a fantastic example of how two charities with different expertise but a shared aim, can come together to help change the lives of the people in our community. In a short space of time Forces Friends has come to mean so much to the veterans of Nottinghamshire and we are so proud of the joint Age UK Notts and Legion Forces Friends team that has made this project a realty.”

Anne Donoghue Chief Executive of the Soldering On Awards said: “The Soldiering On Awards recognise great achievements of former members of the Armed Forces Community and those who support that community. We look to reward and spread the word about initiatives which are creating a positive ripple of change in society, both nationally and locally. The Forces Friends Project is an exemplary example of a collaboration between The Royal British Legion and Age UK for the benefit of veterans and, thereby society as a whole. The Armed Forces Community is part of the wider community and the Forces Friends Project shows how we can support each other, and in doing so proves we are all the better for it.“

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We are delighted to recognise projects, like Forces Friends, where organisations have worked together to prevent the loneliness and social isolation that some veterans are at risk of experiencing in later life. This is the second year the Forces in Mind Trust has sponsored this award and we are delighted to see so many fantastic examples of collaboration, which will help to spread knowledge of best practice across the military and wider charity sectors, and is key to making sure that those vulnerable to failed transition receive the help they need”.