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Partners in welfare
More than 5,500 individuals have been supported during a three-year partnership between the Defence Medical Welfare Service and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity …
The end of March marked the culmination of a three-year partnership between the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. The two organisations have worked together to deliver a bespoke welfare service for the Armed Forces community in hospitals and across southern England, as part of a project originally funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds.
Welfare officers have been embedded into 11 NHS Trusts and reacted quickly to the impact of COVID-19, managing to successfully adopt a remote working model. They continued to obtain and respond to referrals from the Armed Forces community while also contacting individuals they had supported over the previous two years; many of them were found to be totally isolated due to lockdown.
More than 5,500 members of the Armed Forces community have benefited from the service, including Susan (pictured above) who was unable to visit her husband (in the photo with her) in hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions after he sustained a life-threatening head injury during a cycling holiday. An iPad was made available so Susan could see her husband after he woke from an induced coma. She was also assisted with accommodation near to the hospital and a DMWS welfare officer was provided to give her the emotional support she needed to reduce her isolation and anxiety.
Susan says: ‘Due to COVID-19, the wards were closed and I was not able to see my husband. Having someone visit him and then update me was so much easier than trying to contact the hospital; I felt like I had someone on my side.’
Thanks to the project’s success, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has recently made an additional grant of £200,000 to fund its continuation, in partnership with NHS Trusts, ensuring these welfare officers can continue to support the Army family.
Paul Gaffney, CEO of the DMWS, adds: ‘Working in partnership with The Soldiers’ Charity has enabled the Defence Medical Welfare Services to optimise support to those that need it most. It is at extraordinary times like these that both organisations step forward and make a real difference on the ground.’
Brigadier (Ret’d) Peter Monteith, Chief of Staff at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, concludes: ‘It has been a pleasure to have been working in partnership with the DMWS for the past three years. Our combined efforts have made a real and positive difference to the lives of so many members of the Army family. This has been especially important during the challenging and uncertain times of the last 12 months.’
About ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is the Army’s national charity, formed in 1944 to provide a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their families when they are in need. In the past year, we have helped 70,000 members of the Army family in 62 countries across the globe, and funded 89 other charities and organisations to deliver specialist services.
While there is a British Army, there will be The Soldiers’ Charity.
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