Legion Scotland’s Veterans Community Support Service (VCSS) are handing out awards to their volunteers as a way of acknowledging and thanking them for their hard work and commitment in supporting their service users.

Veterans Community Support Manager Tam Douglas, who leads the service, says: “This was an initiative that was desperately needed, and was fully backed by our Chief Executive to show our gratitude to the volunteers that we have, for sticking with Legion Scotland during the pandemic. I don’t think we lost a single volunteer.”

The volunteers were presented with a special Legion Scotland coin and certificate to thank them for their dedication during the pandemic and beyond, and for carrying on their important work of supporting service users in need.

“Given the nature of lockdown, we were limited to phone calls and emails,” Tam explains. “But as far as home visits were concerned, for those who were desperately in need, these carried on under supervision by our coordinators, following strict guidelines, not just from the Scottish Government, but from the Legion Scotland head office as well.”

On their volunteers, Veterans Community Support Regional Coordinator Elliot Thomson says: “These are busy people and they’ve got busy lives already; they’re giving up a lot of spare time to help these veterans and their families who don’t have anyone else. It’s probably been extra difficult during the pandemic for everyone.”

The service was established in 2017, thanks to a three-year grant of £4 million from the UK Government through the Aged Veterans Fund. Its aim was to partner veterans with a volunteer for support and companionship under the Unforgotten Forces consortium. Since its inception, the voluntary service has helped to support 1,000 veterans.

Tam says: “We help all veterans of all ages, but the Unforgotten Forces consortium is mainly veterans over the age of 60.”

Currently, the VCSS is supporting 165 people, and has supported around 825 in total in the last three months alone. Having secured funding from the Scottish Government in 2020, the service has been extended until 2023 with an investment of £750,000.

The number of volunteers is growing, with more people signing up to befriend and support veterans across the country as Scotland moves on from the pandemic.

Elliot says: “There’s been quite a number coming through. Recently I think I’ve interviewed seven or eight.”

“We try to get the veterans out the house … and take them to the local park … and get them back involved in their communities.”

If you would like more information on how to get involved please telephone us on 0131 550 1560 or email [email protected]