A grant of £29,489 from The Royal British Legion to Wiltshire charity Carer Support Wiltshire (CSW) will provide support for unpaid carers in the Armed Forces and veteran communities…

The money will fund the charity’s Armed Forces Family Support Project and will focus on the early identification and recognition of carers with military connections and help them to access services, funding and training.

CSW support worker, Catherine Duncan has a specialist understanding of the issues surrounding forces families and will be drawing on her experience as a military wife to identify and support those who are caring for a loved one. A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a family member or friend who cannot manage without their support. They might look after someone with a physical disability, long term health condition, mental health issue or a problem with substance misuse.

Whilst caring for someone can be positive and rewarding, it can also have an impact on a person’s wellbeing, their finances and relationships. This can lead to isolation, mental health problems and long term health issues.

Rachel, from Corsham, cares for her husband who suffers from PTSD. He was signed off following 20 years’ military service. Finding help whilst her husband was still serving proved difficult. It wasn’t until her mum suggested she contact CSW that Rachel found the support she and her family needed.

“It was like the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s difficult for civilians to understand the challenges faced by those serving and the impact it has on their families. Because Catherine has a military background she understands.”

Catherine’s work will also include supporting those with a Service record in the Armed Forces, where typical issues include physical health and mobility issues, following injury during active service and mental health issues, including PTSD.

Catherine comments: “The number of carers in the Armed Forces who seek support or access services is small. This is because many do not recognise themselves as carers, or like to ask for help. Too often, it’s only when a carer reaches crisis point that their role and its physical and emotional impact becomes clear.”

Wiltshire has a long history with the Army, with Tidworth, Bulford, Larkhill and Warminster barracks based on Salisbury Plain. In 2013 military personnel in the county was estimated to be 14,125 or 2.9% of the total Wiltshire population. This number is set to increase with the gradual withdrawal of troops from Germany.

Daniel Elser, Head of Grants & Social Policy for The Royal British Legion, said: “We are proud to support this project, through which Carer Support Wiltshire will provide tailored support to unpaid carers from within the Armed Forces Community in Wiltshire. The project will also engage with local military bases and charities to raise awareness of the specific needs of carers within the community, ensuring organisations work collaboratively to meet the needs of our beneficiaries. The Legion is committed to helping all members of the Armed Forces community through thick and thin, including those responsible for caring for a family member, friend or neighbour.”

If you look after someone either serving or retired from the military and would like to find out about the support available please contact Catherine Duncan at Carer Support Wiltshire on 0800 181 4118.