One-stop shop for veterans piloted in Banchory

Dave Thomson.
Dave Thomson.

A “new, unique and local” support provision is being piloted in Banchory to create a one-stop shop for veterans.

The Changing-Step Project is based in the new Banchory community hub, Number One, Scott Skinner Square.

Dave Thomson, previously the project development officer for the AberdeenshireSALUTES veteran support project, successfully created, developed and initiated this project for Aberdeenshire Council.

It was originally designed to help the authority demonstrate its commitment to the Military Community Covenant, formally signed in 2013, with this plan being presented and adopted in May 2015. It will now be adapted by the council to fit their longer term plans.

Dave explained this new project will be helping ex-services personnel to “get their lives back into step” with the focus being on veteran engagement, befriending, well-being and the transition from the Armed Forces environment to civilian life, plus access to employability training and support.

He said the aim is to provide a local community outreach support and engagement provision, achieved through developing “creative, imaginative and unique engagement approaches”.

Dave said: “The Changing-Step Project will not only be providing peer support and community related information it is about how to utilise an individual’s transferable skills, gained while in the forces or through their present civilian life, these skills identified, will be used to benefit others within the community they live.

“It also aims to appeal to those who may not at this point, require support or assistance but may wish to help or access the activities, projects or events that may already be on offer, through existing community engagement facilitators, support providers.

“Being located in the Banchory Community Hub will also provide a safe, friendly and non-judgemental environment for an ex-services individual to feel relaxed and comfortable enough to share their thoughts, concerns or experiences that would not necessarily be understood by a non-military person.

“This will allow for any additional issues to be informally identified through supportive peer discussion and the most appropriate local and professional help be considered.

“This will be a gateway to support, including access to the professional organisations and \gencies.

“It is that single point of contact, one-stop shop, allowing the linking up of the ex-service man or woman to the most appropriate help or support without prejudice, within their own community, not to replace or re-invent an organisation, who are deemed the experts.

“This project is more than just a support provision, it’s about the linking up, the time taken to discuss what is happening in their life, what is affecting them at this moment, the investment and building of that relationship, the trust, the reliability the individual, possibly, has not experienced for a very long time.”

Dave is seeking to form a group of volunteers who have a services background or have been associated with the forces to help him develop new and creative ways to also link up with those more “harder to reach” ex-service individuals living in isolation within the area and who would not normally approach veteran support groups or organisations.

Dave also wants to establish sponsorship opportunities throughout the local business community to help develop this unique project.

For more information please call Dave for a chat and see how you can help call 07796083301 or e-mail him on changingstep@outlook.com