Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans
Photos by John O’Byrne
For many veterans’ life after leaving the armed forces is challenging. Ensuring that all veterans receive the support and care they deserve is also a challenge. On the island of Ireland there are an estimated 150,000 and 20,000 British Armed Forces (Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy) veterans in Northern Ireland and the Rep. of Ireland respectively. As one of the commitments made in the New Decade New Approach political agreement, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, appointed Danny Kinahan as Northern Ireland’s first Veterans’ Commissioner.
The appointment of a Veterans Commissioner ensures that there is representation and a safe voice for veterans who often feel they have been forgotten, and have been largely underrepresented as a community for years. Danny and his team have been engaging with veterans’ charities on the island of Ireland with a clear message that there is help for veterans who need it. Over the past three months we have been working on a multimedia project with the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner’s Office (NIVCO). The purpose of this project is to highlight the NIVCO and the services they provide, while at the same time showcasing several of the veterans’ charities and the work they do on the island of Ireland. Some of these charities include: The Royal British Legion (Northern Ireland and Rep. of Ireland); The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA); The Not Forgotten Association; Decorum NI; and the UDR Regimental Association. As part of a North/South engagement the NIVCO team also met with the Irish Defence Forces veterans support charity The Organisation of National Ex-Personnel. The uniform may be different but the challenges are the same, collaboration and supporting one another is the solution. Each of these charities are unique and offer a variety of supports from welfare to outreach, drop-in centres and remembrance. SSAFA for example is the oldest veterans’ organisation. Founded in 1885, it provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families or dependents.
A new charity for our team is Decorum NI. It was a real pleasure to meet this group at their garden plots outside Bangor. Decorum NI helps combat isolation through a variety of ways including: alternative therapies, counselling, training, educational courses, sign posting to educational progression, and welfare advice. We are looking forward to meeting them again in the near future.
For a full list of supports and services available please visit: www.nivco.co.uk/where-to-get-help/
We will be updating you as this project develops.
Thank you to The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and the NI Veterans Commissioner’s Office. for their support.