Scotland’s Veterans Minister has learned about a ground-breaking service that is providing life-changing support to older Armed Forces veterans…

Graeme Dey MSP visited Poppyscotland’s Welfare Centre in Kilmarnock to hear about the work being done by the Unforgotten Forces project – a collaboration of 15 leading organisations delivering a range of services and enhancements for older veterans.

Unforgotten Forces assists veterans in areas including advice, access to healthcare, social isolation, respite and transport, along with creative activities and events for those in care settings.

Mark Bibbey, the Chief Executive at Poppyscotland which leads the project, said: “The Unforgotten Forces project is pioneering as it is rare for so many organisations to work together on one initiative to this extent. This means that when a veteran speaks to one member of the consortium, he or she is effectively speaking to us all given how close the collaboration is.

“A total of 3,155 older veterans were reached, supported or helped in some way during the first year of the project; an achievement that has far exceeded targets.”

Mr Bibbey added: “We believe that the Unforgotten Forces model is one that can and should be repeated across the sector, and, indeed, other sectors. As budgets get squeezed and demand on services increases, it is innovation like this that allows us to overcome these challenges and provide an even better quality of service.

“It is our belief that those benefitting are among our most deserving in society and it was wonderful that the Veterans Minister was able to take the time to come along today to hear about the work being done.”

Mr Dey also took the opportunity to be shown around Poppyscotland’s Ayrshire Welfare Centre, which opened in October 2017, to see the centre in operation and hear about the impact it has had in the past year-plus. Mr Dey said:

“This is an excellent project and I congratulate Unforgotten Forces and the Poppyscotland Ayrshire Welfare Centre for the support they are providing our older veterans. I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit today to experience what is being provided for our veterans, who we must ensure are able to access the best possible care, support and opportunities.”

Unforgotten Forces was launched in October 2017 after receiving £4 million worth of funding by HM Treasury via the Aged Veterans Fund. The project has just been nominated for a prestigious award; it has been shortlisted for the ‘Forces in Mind Trust Working Together Award’ at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards.

The award seeks to recognise a person, team or organisation that has demonstrated an enduring commitment and collaborative approach to supporting those within the Armed Forces community.