The Military Community Veterans Centre (MCVC) based in Rotherham has embarked on a new project called Hidden Faces. This is being delivered over the next two years by an army of volunteers to reach out to the Veterans in all areas of Rotherham to help combat loneliness and promote camaraderie. To get this amazing opportunity off the ground we held an event at the New York stadium On the 25th of June 21 to relaunch the MCVC.
In response to the launch of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (AFCFT) Tackling Loneliness Programme, Rotherham MCVC submitted a proposal to deliver a two-year project, titled Hidden Faces, to address this across the Rotherham and South Yorkshire Region. Rotherham MCVC has delivered a drop-in and regular events bringing Veterans together, developing camaraderie and friendships with like-minded individuals for its full 9 years of existence. Extending this to a ‘Sign Posting’ activity that helps veterans who are struggling to transition from their service career or suffering hardship to ‘civi street’.
Loneliness has become a major cause for concern, being at the cusp of normality, we can look back on 15 months where isolation has been enforced for the wellbeing of the general population, at the expense of those living alone. Service personnel on leaving a secure life become part of their chosen community quite quickly, however, there are some who are new to an area or through personal problems find themselves alone, integration is extremely difficult and challenging and this inevitably leads to isolation and feelings of loneliness.
Across South Yorkshire, the latest data suggests that there are 59,000 veterans with approximately 8,000 living in Rotherham. Estimates, based on these studies, provide a potential for 600 Veterans to fall into this ‘at risk’ group with a further 4,000 across the county. Rotherham MCVC has a growing connection with and supports around 150 (2%) of these and has set a target of knowing 1,000 but being recognised by 3 times that number and widely known with a high profile across the region and population.
Hidden Faces Has a Simple Aim – To Help Veterans Find a Place To Belong
There are two aspects to resolving this:
- The first obstacle is the identification of vulnerable Veterans as lonely people rarely wear a placard shouting about their feelings.
- The second is, when identified lonely Veterans struggle to engage with others, Rotherham MCVC will provide the opportunities to bring veterans together in friendly and welcoming settings, encouraging participation with no expectations.
Worldwide, the military has an unwritten faithfulness to each other. Fill a room with 100 servicemen or any service and any nation and very quickly there will be unprompted conversations and laughter coming from a group of strangers. Servicemen get on with other servicemen – a loyalty to each other that seldom exists elsewhere.
Rotherham MCVC’s approach is to promote its aims widely, so everyone in the region and further afield knows of us and our goals and following up with events and activities to develop bonds and friendships with other attending veterans.
Rotherham MCVC is fortunate with its access to a liveried van and trailer promoting and publicising what it does, this will be deployed to all local areas, outside supermarkets, garden centres and in town centres. Highlighting our message, we are asking friends, family or just neighbours to refer someone that they worry for but care about to Rotherham MCVC. As a result of such a referral, the individual will then be invited to all events and activities that are planned by the charity.
Ranging from day trips to the seaside for fish and chips and days out to local attractions through to online quizzes or simple chats and presentations, the priority is not the event, it is the shared memory it creates, the growing sense of belonging to a new but widening community and a potential desire to help others.
Rotherham MCVC sees this project as a launchpad for future opportunities where, working with partner organisations, the service and support offered can be enhanced. Where service personnel know what is available and Rotherham MCVC is a route to a settled life in Rotherham following military service.
The van is now available for booking by Military Charities in the Rotherham area.
Should you require further details on the Hidden Faces project then please contact Ian Jones.