Unforgotten Forces – Update on Revised Services During Covid-19 Outbreak as at 2nd Apr 20

The following is a summary of revised services available for older veterans via the Unforgotten Forces consortium partners during the current Coronavirus outbreak as at 2nd Apr 20. Obviously, the situation may change at short notice and further updates will be provided as and when appropriate. Meantime however, with the exception of three of the consortium’s service delivery types which unfortunately have had to be placed in abeyance, the remainder are for the time being continuing to deliver a modified service in support of older veterans as outlined below here in relation to each of the consortium’s partner organisations.


Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

Hearing Forces service staff are now working from home and the services delivered to older veterans in the local communities and at home have at present ceased although staff can still be reached by telephone, email and text message. Contact details by which referrals can be made by geographic area are as follows:


North of Scotland & Project Manager - Angela Paton

Mobile: 07464 828452

Email: [email protected]


West of Scotland - Caroline McDonald 

Mobile: 07776 596323

Email: [email protected]


East of Scotland - Derek Clark

Mobile: 07823 791 529

Email: [email protected]  

Hearing Forces Project Assistant (Part-time Mon – Wed) - Heather Hart

Mobile: 07503 925606

Email: heather.hart @hearingloss.org.uk


General contact with the project via: [email protected]


The Hearing Forces team will now:

  • Continue to accept referrals and self-referrals, offer phone/text/email support until it is safe to offer appointments/drop-ins.
  • Phone regular service users to advise of current situation and offer general emotional, health and well-being support.
  • Provide practical advice, guidance and signposting on technological aids to assist in preventing loneliness and isolation.
  • Offer a postal battery service to service users.
  • Continue to liaise with NHS Audiology on behalf of service users.
  • Identify and refer for any limited audiology services available across country e.g. postal repairs.
  • Investigate the possibility of carrying out mobile/postal hearing aid maintenance, (when current restrictions lifted), including health and safety practices and robust risk assessments.
  • Respond to individual practical needs e.g. sourcing/delivery of new phone for lady in 90’s isolated from family with home phone not working.
  • Develop a hearing aid hygiene practice factsheet suitable for Hearing Forces client group.
  • Look at potential to refer or develop own ‘How to’ videos.
  • Look at potential/options for an Online forum?  Web chat?  Helpline?  Blog?

Updates can be found on their Facebook page.


Age Scotland

Capacity at the Age Scotland Helpline (0800 12 44 222) is being ramped up following an £80k funding boost from the Scottish Government: the helpline is offering a listening ear, information and advice.  It has created a special advice page relating to the outbreak. The Age Scotland Helpline (0800 12 44 222) offers a listening ear, information and advice to older people, their families, friends and carers.  It has significantly expanded its capacity in response to coronavirus with Scottish Government support, although hours of operation remain 9am-5pm Mondays-Fridays.  The service includes informing people about local support available and official guidance related to the outbreak.    It has created a special advice page relating to coronavirus.  Specialist advisers are still available to assist with more complex later-life enquiries, e.g. benefits checks, however response times may be longer currently due to pressure on the service. 

With the suspension of all community based activities the Helpline provides immediate support, information and friendship to all older people in Scotland including veterans. The large number of additional staff put on to helpline duties have been made aware of the need to record veterans status, and have begun making referrals to Unforgotten Forces partners including Fares4Free and Legion Scotland.   

An additional cohort of call-takers will be added to Age Scotland’s helpline duty rota this week, which will enable the Veterans’ Project tream to resume other strands of work part-time.  While outreach work is impossible during the lock-down, the team intend to:

  • Produce and disseminate a summer newsletter for older veterans
  • Provide quarterly email updates for veterans groups and services
  • Oversee publication of an update edition of Veterans’ Guide to Later Life
  • Test feasibility for video-based veterans awareness training events, and deliver as feasible
  • Test feasibility for video-based physical activity sessions for veterans groups, and deliver as feasible

With the Age Scotland team currently home-based it is not possible to send out postal publications at this time: however our advice guides remain available online at www.agescotland.org.uk.


Armed Services Advice Project

Regional ASAP Advisers will continue to provide support to clients remotely by telephone and e mail and the ASAP helpline will still be available from 9am to 5pm Mon - Fri.  Tel No: 0808 800 1007.

Combat Stress

  • Hollybush House treatment centre near Ayr is now closed. Further support for clients will be offered via phone and video call. 
  • Therapists across the country are moving from face-to-face appointments to phone or video call appointments so veterans can continue to receive support.
  • Peer Support Service continues as a virtual service via phone and video call. Call the Combat Stress Helpline on 0800 138 1619 for more information and referrals.
  • Webinars to help and support partners are planned to continue.
  • Currently seeking ways to extend treatment centre Art Therapy online. 
  • The Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline remains open, providing confidential advice and support to veterans and their families and taking referrals in Scotland. The number is 0800 138 1619.
  • And finally — any veteran currently receiving support from Combat Stress can also contact their usual clinical team member for more help and advice via their usual email address or telephone number.
  • More information available on their Facebook page.


Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS)

The three front-line DMWS staff in Scotland have now had to withdraw from their usual working discharge hub bases within NHS hospitals in both Fife and Lanarkshire. They are also no longer able to routinely visit veterans who have been discharged from hospital but, now working from home, they continue to support them as best they can remotely via telephone etc. and, on occasions they are being requested by NHS staff to visit and support individual veterans in hospitals.  They are keen to work collaboratively with Unforgotten Forces partners at this time in support of the wider consortium’s older veteran clients in Fife and Lanarkshire where possible and very much open to suggestions as to how their staff may be able to support this aim. Full details of their staff names contact details are available in the Unforgotten Forces Staff List provided to all partners and recently updated.



The Erskine Reid Macewen Activity Centre has been forced to close until further notice. However, the team continues to offer support remotely by keeping in touch with ERMAC members by phone and through offering to run essential errands for them such as picking up and delivering groceries and pharmacy prescriptions etc. Members are encouraged to contact the centre on 0141 814 4534 if they have any questions.  More details on the ERMAC Facebook page.


Fares4Free continues to provide essential support during the crisis maintaining contact with older veteran clients by telephone and offering to run essential errands for them such as picking up and delivering groceries and pharmacy prescriptions etc.


Where necessary for essential reasons they are still able to drive individual veterans for medical appointments and/or to homeless accommodation centres etc. For this however drivers need PPE and they are running out of protective face masks so if any partners can spare or provide any the please contact David Gibson on 07708 299399.


Fares4Free would also like to encourage UF partners to continue making referrals where their drivers and vehicles may be able to assist older veterans with the collection and delivery of essential supplies such as food and prescription medications etc.


Find out more on their Facebook page.


ILM Highland

The Highland Veterans Handyperson Service continues to operate in the Moray, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Nairn and Inverness areas with the Handyperson undertaking external DIY jobs and, where only absolutely necessary, essential internal jobs for older veteran clients at their homes and gardens, maintaining contact with them by telephone and offering to run essential errands for them such as picking up and delivering groceries and pharmacy prescriptions etc.


Legion Scotland


The Legion Scotland Veterans Community Support Service has ceased home visits and face to face support for the time being. However, the service continues to provide essential support during the crisis maintaining contact with older veteran clients by telephone and offering to run essential errands for them such as picking up and delivering groceries and pharmacy prescriptions etc. Legion Scotland’s Facebook page is sharing information about local action to support veterans during the crisis and virtual ‘hang-outs’.


Contact details during the current crisis are as follows:

Tel: 0131 550 1560 or 0131 322 1062

E mail: [email protected]




Unfortunately, the “Art Adventures in Nature” project for older veterans at Erskine’s homes delivered by the two contracted artists in residence has had to be suspended for the time being and project is therefore in abeyance for the foreseeable future.


However, Luminate know that there are lots of older people at home or in care homes right now who are having to isolate from the wider world for a while because of the coronavirus outbreak, and so we've launched a new programme of online creative activities called Luminate@Home

Short films are uploaded every Tuesday and Friday at 2pm, on Luminate’s facebook page and on our YouTube or Vimeo channels or om our webpage.  These films have been designed to inspire and guide you through a creative activity that can be done at home or in a care home. The activities are presented by professional artists and feature different arts forms including crafts, poetry, music and dance. The films will be left online so you can access them at any time.


Music in Hospitals & Care Scotland

*******Coming Soon – live streamed online music!!********

Music in Hospitals & Care have paused their live music sessions across the UK and this includes those provided for older veterans in Scotland through the Play it Again SAV! project.

With their musicians they are however reaching out to find alternative ways to bring music to those who will need it most and are currently working on a plan to provide some live streaming online music sessions in the hopefully not too distant future and more details of this will be promulgated as soon as available.

Their office in Edinburgh is now closed with all staff working from home. However, their phones and emails are very much open for business and the Play it Again SAV! Coordinator remains contactable by those means.


Full details are available here and a summary is as follows:


Poppyscotland’s welfare centres in Inverness and Kilmarnock are now closed to the public although staff continue to work with clients remotely and can be contacted in the normal way.


Inverness:     Tel: 01463 710300 or email: [email protected]

Kilmarnock:   Tel: 01563 598000 or e-mail: [email protected]


The Welfare Support Service will only undertake home visits in exceptional circumstances and are currently supporting clients remotely.  Referrals for the Welfare Support Service should be made via: [email protected] or 0131 5501557.


The Welfare Team in Edinburgh are now, by and large, working remotely, they can still be contacted on their normal telephone numbers as follows:


Grants Coordinator: 0131 5501556

Employment Coordinator: 0131 550 1568

Client Engagement & Support Coordinator: 0131 550 1557

Unforgotten Forces Coordinator: 07458 015362


Given the current situation the Break Away service is unable to accept any referrals.  All breaks that have been booked have had to be cancelled and those involved have been informed.  All current applicants have been advised that no breaks are being booked at this time.

Royal Air Forces Association

RAFA is acutely conscious that members of their RAF community such as veterans and their loved ones are particularly vulnerable during the current coronavirus pandemic. Many fall into high-risk categories, and the potential for loneliness and isolation has increased significantly and they may need help more than ever. The need to suppress the spread of coronavirus clearly means that RAFA must temporarily change its face-to-face approach to avoid placing anyone at greater risk of contracting the virus. A summary of its service delivery situation is as follows:

  • Welfare case workers and befrienders are continuing to provide support via telephone and online communications rather than in person.
  • Services such as breaks in their Wings Hotels and other facilities and drop-in welfare facilities have been temporarily suspended but RAFA will be keeping in close contact with those who use them.
  • Contingency plans in place for retirement housing complexes so that residents who live there can continue to do so in safety.
  • Working on alternative ways to deliver essential training and support such as new Finding It Tough? mental wellbeing programme.

Additionally, from next week, RAFA will also be launching four new emergency projects:

  • A telephone outreach service which will proactively support our beneficiaries and other high-risk members of our RAF community to check on their welfare and offer them regular contact (telephone or online).
  • A friendship helpline that anyone in our RAF community can call if they are feeling isolated, in need of more specific support or simply want a chat with someone friendly who understands.
  • A daily RAF-themed online entertainment slot that people can look forward to as part of their routine while they are isolating, from quizzes to live-streamed sing-a-longs and armchair fitness sessions.
  • Bag drops of vital provisions to the doorsteps of the most vulnerable members of our RAF family. 

RAFA has begun to redeploy employees and volunteers to make these projects happen – and will be contacting its branches and existing volunteer force to ask for their help.


Any RAF veterans in need of RAFA’s help and support - or even just a friendly chat – should not hesitate to contact RAFA by phoning 0800 018 2361.


Scottish Older People’s Assembly

All SOPA’s previously scheduled programme of regional engagement events bringing together and consulting with older people around Scotland have now been postponed for the time being.


Scottish War Blinded

Scottish War Blinded activity hubs at Linburn and Hawkhead have now closed and all social events and groups have been suspended, as have home visits by the outreach team and rehabilitation officers.


The staff teams continue to maintain telephone contact will all members to ensure their safety and wellbeing. To reduce social isolation staff are chatting to members on a regular basis and providing activities such as quizzes, crosswords and even Name That Tune sessions. Where necessary they are linking members who are struggling to get food, collect prescriptions etc to local groups who can assist. The Rehabilitation service continues to provide essential support, with telephone assessments taking place, and vital equipment to help members cope independently being provided where possible. We will continue to provide a lifeline for our members for as long as the crisis lasts.


The Scottish War Blinded Head Office team is working remotely and are still at the end of a phone line – you can call them on their usual number - 0131 229 1456 option one.

They also continue to welcome referrals from partners and want to support more veterans with sight loss. They will be visiting any veteran referred to us during this period at their home as soon as they are able and will be providing telephone guidance until staff can see them in person.



All SSAFA branches should continue to be contacted through existing emails and telephone numbers for local support.


SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity’s central office, Queen Elizabeth House, will be closed until further notice. As far as possible all of its services will continue with all appropriate measures taken to ensure volunteers, staff and beneficiaries are protected and case working being undertaken remotely over the phone etc. Where possible. Key to this is the ongoing cooperation between the case working organisations and benevolent funds with the sector to ensure that appropriate processes and grants are still able to continue to meet the needs of our community.

Should veterans need advice or support in a time which will be a truly testing few months for all of us they may still contact SSAFA’s Forcesline helpline either by phone (0800 731 4880) or live chat during office hours.