Like many ideas, the seeds for VCN were sewn several years ago as a result of a close family members' struggles with service-related PTSD and alcoholism. It took many years for them to acknowledge that their service in Northern Ireland in the mid 1980’s had a profound impact on both them and close family members. What followed was a series of treatment appointments, failure to engage and ‘case closed’. This showed a clear lack of understanding by the professionals involved in the treatment and care package. It wasn’t a lack of motivation or willingness to change on the part of the family member. Simply put, although the services were there, they were inaccessible for them. Guilt, shame, not being listened to or understood about the issues they had, all acted as barriers to engagement. Sadly, this is not a unique story by any means.
Through my previous work, I was privileged enough to learn the value of peer mentor support (individuals with lived experience) in getting people into treatment and supporting them to stay there as well as providing support in other areas of need. So the idea of training veterans as peer mentors to provide this valuable support and ‘bridge’ into treatment and support services was ‘hatched’.
VCN took its first steps as a Community Group in November 2019 supported by a steering group made up of VRFM’s (Veterans, Reservists & Family Members). In November 2020 VCN became a registered charity covering Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Today, we are continuing to grow as a charity, having supported over 250 VRFM’s, employ two part time staff members and trained 4 peer mentors so far, with another 6 now waiting to complete the training.
I would like to thank everyone who has been part of the VCN journey so far. It’s you who has made it possible for local veterans to continue to support local veterans.
The aim of VCN is to support Veterans, Reservists and their families in accessing the treatment and support services to help cope, adjust and manage situations such as mental health, housing, benefits and social isolation. We do this through our network of trained Veteran Peer Mentors and a monthly drop-in Hub.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. It is a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives. Organisations, business’s and charities of all sizes can sign the covenant. Milton Keynes Council signed the covenant in 2011 and are Gold award holders in the MOD’s Employer Recognition Scheme. This pledge of support includes guaranteed interviews for service personnel who are in the process of leaving or are less than 5 years out of service (where essential criteria are met)
VCN operates Safe Accessible Support through offering veteran peer mentoring which actively seeks out other veterans who are in distress and in need of support. Our peer mentors all have a military background, have undergone the accredited veteran mental health first aid training and successfully completed an accredited peer mentor training course. Our ambition is to support veterans to engage and remain in treatment with our partners and other ‘wrap around services’
This legal structure ensures that VCN delivers services through a framework of policies and procedures to ensure a safe and effective network of support. Copies of our policies and procedures are available on request. As a new organisation we are currently undergoing the accreditation process with the relevant organisations such as ASDIC (Association of ex-service Drop-in Centres) and in the future we hope to become members of COSBEO and gain accreditation with NCVO Mentoring and Befriending’s Approved Provider Standard.
VCN is working towards Membership Association of ex-Service Drop-in Centres- ASDIC Framework.
VCN is working towards Membership of COBSEO, The Confederation of Service Charities.
VCN is working towards the NCVO Mentoring and Befriending’s Approved Provider Standard.
The Veterans’ Community Network are committed to ensuring the security and protection of the personal information that we process, and to provide a compliant and consistent approach to data protection. We have a robust and effective data protection program in place which complies with existing law and abides by the GDPR (2018) data protection principles.
If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis or emergency, you should either call your GP or call ‘999’ and ask for help.
Copyright © 2021 Veterans Community Network - All Rights Reserved.
REGISTERED CHARITY IN ENGLAND NUMBER: 1191970
AWARDED ROYAL BRITISH LEGION CENTENARY AWARD 2021