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Connect at Christmas: Veterans benefit from Poppyscotland Welfare Support Scheme

In 2013, Army veteran Kevin Brooks sought help from PoppyScotland and managed to put his life back together.
In 2013, Army veteran Kevin Brooks sought help from PoppyScotland and managed to put his life back together.

A charity dedicated to supporting military personnel has reported an increase in calls about loneliness in recent weeks.

Poppyscotland offers an array of emotional, practical and financial support to veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, loneliness, isolation and other mental health issues.

Last year, it launched a welfare support service, which was used by 340 individuals from the Army, Navy and RAF in 12 months.

Since lockdown in March, support workers have made 322 calls to service users to help reduce loneliness and isolation.

Now, with the difficult festive period fast approaching, Poppyscotland is ready to respond – but needs your support.

Laura Gavin, Poppyscotland?s Welfare Support Officer for the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Grampian

Laura Gavin, the charity’s welfare support officer for the Highlands and Grampian, said veterans are turning to the charity more and more as they continue to battle with isolation and loneliness.

“Demand for the service is definitely picking up,” she said.

“We did see a bit of a dip at the start of lockdown, but in recent months we have seen a big rise in people reaching out for help.

“Isolation and loneliness has always been really prevalent amongst the armed forces community and, because of this, the lockdown has hit many of our beneficiaries particularly hard. With our welfare centres forced to close temporarily we have moved our drop in session to Zoom, and these have proved to be extremely popular.”

Ex-soldier Kevin Brooks from Nairn managed to get his life back on track thanks to the welfare support offered by Poppyscotland following a lengthy battle with PTSD, depression and chronic anxiety.

At a young age, the 36-year-old witnessed a fatal road crash, generating early signs of PTSD.

In an attempt to “escape” and suppress his feelings, he joined the Scots Guards and severed for seven-and-a-half years, which included deployment to Iraq.

However, as time wore on, he condition deteriorated and he had to leave the Army.

He said: “After Iraq, the environment in the Army changed and I didn’t know where to turn for help. I could feel the symptoms getting worse, but I kept suppressing it. Boxing in the army helped, but I knew I just wasn’t getting better. I struggled on for a year until I left the forces in November 2010. I had had enough.”

In 2013, Mr Brooks sought help from PoppyScotland and managed to put his life back together. He has now successfully opened his own boxing club in Nairn as a fully qualified Boxing Scotland coach.

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