New support scheme for military carers

Carers among military families living in Wiltshire will be given extra support thanks to a new initiative in the county called Courage to Care.

The Courage to Care programme, which will be delivered by Carer Support Wiltshire (CSW), aims to identify carers and their families among the Services, before they reach crisis point. They will then be supported via a network of trained carer support officers and volunteers within the military community.

The Courage to Care project has been made possible thanks to a £130,000 grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund – a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, will be treated fairly. It’s estimated that more than 900 military families in Wiltshire have a family member with a caring role.

According to the Army Welfare Service (AWS) and Army Family Federation (AFF) the majority of those looking after loved ones within the military community may not be aware that help is available or may not even consider themselves carers.

Among those is Andrew, who was medically discharged from the Army in 2009 with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He cares for his wife who has mental health and learning difficulties. He has struggled to find work outside of the forces due to his caring role and PTSD. CSW supported Andrew with housing issues, training, respite breaks and emotional support.

Jacqui Radford, Community Connectors Team Lead for Carer Support Wiltshire, said: “We have a large community of military families in the county and we have been looking at ways to reach out to those among them who are carers and who need support.

“We are delighted that this Armed Forces Covenant Grant has enabled us to set up Courage to Care and we are looking forward to working with the Army Welfare Service and the bases themselves to identify carers, to offer support and to signpost them to other services available.”

Vicky Harker, AWS support officer, added: “I have no doubt that this project will significantly improve carer support provision within Wiltshire’s military community and I look forward to working with CSW.”

Under the Courage to Care programme, carer support workers and volunteers will work in close partnership with AWS, the Wiltshire Hives (which is the Army’s information service), and Forces bases to raise awareness and help identify carers.

Employment and volunteer opportunities will be provided for military carers, to help them develop transferable skills for use in future postings and in later civilian life. As well as on base support and training, carers will be signposted to existing services outside the Services, which will also help improve links and communication between the military and civilian communities.

Tracy Park, Military Carer Support Lead for CSW, said: “We are very excited to be launching Courage to Care and in the coming weeks will be looking for volunteers to help with the programme, ideally from the military community.”

If you are caring for a family member in the military we can help signpost you to support services and information that will make your caring role easier. Please get in touch on 0800 181 4118.

CSW will be recruiting staff and volunteers for the Courage to Care project. If you are interested please contact Jacqui Radford or Tracy Park on 01380 871690 or look on our Job Opportunities page.

To find out more about the Armed Forces Covenant Fund please visit their website here.

Photographed are members of the Army Welfare Service and CSW Courage to Care Team at Tidworth Garrison Headquarters

L to R Vicky Harker Welfare Support Officer AWS, WO2 Rebecca Sugden AWS, Lucille Kirk G1 DCOS, Dave Donaldson Community Support AWS, Jacqui Radford CSW Community Connectors Team Lead, Tracy Park CSW Military Support Lead, Capt Alison Bunce SO2 Basing.