MANY people reading this article will have experienced the loss of a loved one at some point in their lives whether it is due to illness, an accident, miscarriage, stillbirth or military operations. Some of us will need some extra support and guidance at this time to navigate through our grief.
Here, Army&You looks at some of the organisations and support groups that may be able to provide some comfort for you and your family – specifically if you are a military family…
Getting you home
If you’re posted overseas and need to return to the UK for compassionate reasons such as a close relative’s serious illness or death, contact the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC). They will make a recommendation on whether compassionate travel can be granted.
It’s strongly recommended that you contact JCCC if your soldier is on operational duties overseas and needs to return home on compassionate grounds. Leave may normally be granted when:
- A spouse, entitled partner or child is seriously injured or dies
- When the death of a close relative is imminent
For those of you who have relatives living overseas it’s advised that you make contingency plans for any unexpected travel. Your Unit Welfare Office can give you details on any public funds or other support that may be available.
For more information, click www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support
Take a FAB break
For young people aged up to 19 who have suffered the loss of their soldier, Family Activity Breaks (FAB) offers family adventure holidays and a welcome break to meet and socialise with others. FAB is staffed by volunteers from the MOD, who help as mentors; lend a hand or simply be there for someone to talk to. They are all trained by a bereavement counselling service who specialise in supporting children and young adults.
Go to www.fabcamps.org.uk
If you’re caring for or supporting a bereaved child or young person, Winston’s Wish can provide help in lots of ways:
- Helpline for support, information and guidance – 08452 030405
- ‘Ask’ email service
- Face-to-face support with individuals, groups, under 5s (CUBS) and teenagers
- The SWITCH community outreach programme for 8-14 year olds.
The charity has supported 19 Service families in the past six months with funding support from Help for Heroes and there’s specific information available for Service families. Winston’s Wish can also offer consultancy, training and resources to parents and professionals. For more details, visit www.winstonswish.org.uk
There for you
Cruse Bereavement has been granted funding of over half a million pounds by the MOD to further develop and raise awareness of bereavement services available for the military family.
Their expertise lies in providing face-to-face, phone, email and group support delivered by trained volunteers across the UK. Over a two year period “Bereavement in the Military Family” will support over 30,000 bereaved serving personnel, their families and the ex-Service community.Through the project, Cruse will:
- Train more Cruse volunteers to support bereaved military family members
- Develop and distribute self-help bereavement resources
- Pilot a peer support module training military family members to support to each
If you feel you need support, call the helpline on 0844 477 9400 or visit www.cruse.org.uk
Bereaved Families Support Group (BFSG)
SSAFA’s BFSG was set up by a group of bereaved families who had lost a serving family member to provide mutual support, advice and information. It’s open to all family members including spouses, partners, boyfriends/girlfriends, parents, siblings and grandparents.
Bereaved Siblings Support Group (BSSG)
This is open to young people over 18 who have lost a brother or sister who was serving in the Armed Forces. They hold regular meetings to support one another and to share memories of their loved ones.
For more information, visit www.ssafasupportgroups.org.uk
A free and confidential telephone helpline and email service provided by SSAFA. It is independent of the military chain of command and provides a supportive listening and signposting service for current and former members of the Armed Forces and their families. You can talk about anything, including personal concerns, worries and problems. The trained staff will give you factual information or ‘signpost’ the appropriate ways forward.
Available Monday-Friday, including Bank Holidays, and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The line is open from 10.30am – 7.30pm (UK local time).
UK: 0800 731 4880
Germany: 0800 1827 395
Cyprus: 800 91065
Falkland Islands: # 6111
Rest of the world: +44 (0)1980 630854
From Operational Theatres, to enable access through Paradigm’s phone system, dial the appropriate access number then enter *201 at the PIN prompt
Visit https://www.ssafa.org.uk/how-we-help/forcesline/ to access the email service.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers is dedicated to supporting the children of men and women killed while serving in the British Armed Forces. The charity provides Christmas and birthday gifts, treats, trips and activities for the families of the fallen as well as enabling them to use the charity holiday lodges.
See our article on page 29 of the summer edition of Army&You or visit www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk for more details.
Organisations worth knowing about
Army Dependants’ Trust: For a small annual donation, Army Dependants’ Trust provides discretionary cash grants to dependants of soldiers who die in service, from whatever cause. Find out more at www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support
Forces Support: Provides general maintenance around the home and garden, the work the lost family member would have done for his or her family or the jobs that have built up while a family grieve. The charity accepts applications from parents, widows, widowers and children of bereaved military personnel. Visit www.forcessupport.org.uk
Big White Wall: Getting stressed by work, family or friends? Dealing with big issues? Share what’s troubling you anonymously – join the Big White Wall network at www.bigwhitewall.com
Forces Children’s Trust: A charity devoted to helping children whose father or mother has died, or has sustained life threatening injuries whilst serving as a member of the British Armed Forces. Visit www.forceschildrenstrust.org
Forces Pension Society: An independent, not-for-profit organisation which serves the interests of all ranks in all three Services as the pension watchdog for the whole military community including dependants. Their pension advisory service helps members get the most from their Armed Forces Pensions; campaigning to resolve unfairness such as loss of widows’ pension on remarriage. Visit www.forcespensionsociety.org
The War Widows Association: www.warwidows.org.uk
Army Widows Association: www.armywidows.org.uk
Further Army welfare support is available at www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support
If you have any issues or concerns, please contact our AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross, at firstname.lastname@example.org