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Veteran determined to help others named Scottish co-ordinator of charity

MSPs Maurice Corry (l) and Peter Chapman watch Privates on Parade volunteers Elaine Mitchell and James Grieve loading sleeping bags, blankets and hygiene kits destined for homeless veterans.
MSPs Maurice Corry (l) and Peter Chapman watch Privates on Parade volunteers Elaine Mitchell and James Grieve loading sleeping bags, blankets and hygiene kits destined for homeless veterans.

A veteran determined to help others has been made the Scottish coordinator of a charity working to get homeless soldiers off the streets.

Joyce MacMillan owns the Privates on Parade Shop – shortened to Pops in memory of her father – in Fraserburgh to raise money to support veterans.

But for the last two months, she has also been volunteering for Soldiers off the Streets.

With her team, she travels across the area in a van looking for homeless veterans and offering them food, blankets, clothes and help.

Since starting out with the charity, her group has successfully helped rehome nine veterans in Fraserburgh and is currently helping 15 other individuals.

Now she has been named Scottish coordinator of the charity.

Ms MacMillan, who herself has been homeless twice, previously served in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps as a nursing stewardess.

She said: “With Soldiers off the Streets we’re trying to get veterans into accommodation.

“We don’t make any promises but we help out where we can by having clothes, hats, socks, sleeping bags, wash packs, toiletries, snack packs and food and drinks if they need something.

“As a veteran myself I know the kinds of places they will be, in places off the road where they are hidden and I’ve a good knowledge of the side streets.

“We ask them two questions: what regiment they were in and their army number as you never forget it.

“Then they fill out a form and we try to help them.”

Yesterday, North East MSP Peter Chapman and West Scotland MSP Maurice Corry – chairman of the Scottish Parliament Armed Forces and Veterans Community cross-party group – visited Ms MacMillan.

Mr Corry said: “I myself know what it is like as I served for 38 years.

“There’s 1.4 million people affected in Scotland as veterans or family of veterans and we need to look at how we can employ and look after them once they return.

“I believe a two-year release program should be offered, similar to that of prisons, as they’re going from having a schedule, food, clothes and shelter to just being back in the community.

“Family is a huge aspect of that too.

“In areas like Fraserburgh the rural aspect is an issue but with people like Joyce across Scotland we are creating a network with will hopefully create more support.”

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