"Loneliness carries a risk
to health which is
to smoking 15
cigarettes a day"
The need for connection and support
Comradeship helps armies to succeed in battle. The shared ethos and sense of belonging of soldiers, sailors and aviators contributes to the ‘Moral Component’ of the fighting power of our Armed Services, fuelling and sustaining their will to engage in combat. When they leave the Army, soldiers no longer live, work and serve alongside their comrades. This can leave a void, particularly for those who have been wounded physically or mentally, that is not always recognised or understood. Acute feelings of isolation can follow.
Society’s growing concern about loneliness and its impact is widely documented. Regrettably, it has become widespread among older people in the civilian population. Older veterans are at increased risk of loneliness due to declining health, retirement, and instability of social ties, along with a stigma around seeking help, related to aspects of the perceived military culture of ‘self-reliance’.
The Chelsea Outreach programme will operate from new facilities at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including the purpose-built Activities Centre and adjacent Outreach, Heritage and Visitor Centre. We will offer supported activity groups, talks, demonstrations and
refreshments for veterans who visit us for a morning, afternoon or the whole day. The Royal Hospital’s extensive grounds and gardens will provide the health and wellbeing benefits of urban green spaces. The programme will provide comradeship and a sense of community to veterans of the three Armed Services, in particular to those over the age of 65, who are in need of the company of other veterans who have lived the Service ethos and experienced the unique challenges of military campaigning and war.
Royal Chelsea Hospital is thinking of branching outside of London and identified the North East of England as a possible area to branch into.
They have approached Connected Voice Advocacy to identify if there would be any value to this, contact Heather Goodhand.
They are keen not to step on the toes of the organisations that already provide excellent support to veterans but want to see if there is any unmet need that can be the basis of a funding bid to come and work in the region. Connected Voice Advocacy are supporting a consultation with organisations and groups working with veterans over the age of 66 in the North East of England.
The consultation will involve a short call to gather feedback on the needs of veterans in the North East and how the Royal Chelsea Hospital might support this. We are also hoping to get individual veterans age over 66 to attend 1 of 3 focus groups on the 21st and 22nd of September. They will provide refreshments and have a budget for travel expenses for focus group attendees.
There will be an opportunity for an early evening reception on 21/9/23 at One Strawberry Lane, our office in central Newcastle, with other veteran organisations and groups, along with visiting Chelsea Pensioners.
Anyone who is interested in engaging with the Royal Hospital Chelsea Outreach programme is to get in touch with Sally Adams who will be able to provide further details.