It is hard to believe that 2023 is already upon us, with the days getting ever so slightly longer, personal resolutions having been made, and decorations starting to disappear until next Christmas. However, with ‘New Year’s’, come new opportunities and challenges to which we are ready to embrace.
Getting information out there
I am aware that many veterans living in Northern Ireland still do not know what is available to them after they leave service, and many do not know where to start looking. In 2022 we sought to change this narrative and meet with veterans at a ground roots level in a safe, face to face environment with supporting organisations and agencies, to showcase what support is available in Northern Ireland, through our Veterans Information Roadshows. I am glad to say that a further three Roadshows are confirmed (Londonderry 25 Jan 23, Carrickfergus 21 Feb 23, Belfast Spectrum Centre 22 Mar 23) with a forth in the planning stages (Kilkeel – Date TBC).
We will of course continue to engage and communicate in all and any means possible to veterans to ensure that up to date, timely information is available. This will include communication through veteran channels including Regimental Associations, Royal British Legions, Veteran Organisations to name but a few, social media platforms, online newsletters and of course printed media wherever possible. Should you wish to receive a NI Veterans/Service Leaver quarterly Newsletter with all the latest updates from within the veteran community please subscribe here.
Getting veterans involved in opportunities
Unfortunately many veterans do not avail of opportunities that are available to them, some because they are getting on with their lives and don’t feel the need to embrace a veteran community, and for others its simply not knowing whats available and out there. From monthly breakfast clubs, horticultural programmes, family camping, bee keeping, cycling, mountaineering & fitness to ceramic/pottery classes to reading there is something for everyone young and old alike. If you would like to find out more contact the Northern Ireland Veteran Support Office to see whats going on in your area this year.
Tel: 028 9521 6784
Cost of living crisis
Despite the longer days slowly brightening ahead of us it would be remise of me not to mention the continued strain on everyone caused by the cost of living crisis. Northern Ireland households will be receiving assistance this month, however veterans can still apply for additional assistance through the RBL Cost of living Grants. The RBL encourages anyone struggling financially to apply, as it has flexibility to consider support for people who don’t meet the means-testing. Further information about the scheme can be found here. For those wishing to apply; you can apply for a grant online or call the Royal British Legion on 0808 802 8080. Applications made online are more quickly processed therefore if you can complete electronically we would encourage you to do so.
NI Veteran healthcare, both mental and physical
The healthcare of our veterans is a priority in which I continue to champion. However due to the lack of Northern Ireland statistical data available, it can be difficult to prove what and where the specific need is for veterans living in Northern Ireland. To that end my office has been running an NI Veterans Health Questionnaire in which to raise awareness and prove need for our veterans living in Northern Ireland, which opened at the beginning of November and will run until the end of this month (Jan 23) . The survey can be completed quickly and simply online and is anonymous. If you haven’t already, I would very much appreciate you take the time to help me champion this very important veteran issue. Complete the NI Veterans Health Questionnaire here.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible this year and I look forward to again being your voice to drive forward positive sustainable change and to recognise the great work of all our veterans from our Armed Forces family. Should you wish to find get in contact or need assistance in any way, please contact my team and we will do our best to assist you. From myself and the NIVCO team we wish you all a very ‘Happy 2023’.
Tel: 028 2548 3169