Support for former services personnel on medical appointments.
A Scottish Government-backed initiative supporting veterans on hospital visits is expanding to cope with increased demand.
Veterans can be accompanied to hospital and receive help with transport under a unique collaboration between the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS), which provides trained welfare officers, and Fares4Free, a charity offering transport through their outreach support drivers.
The organisations were awarded £40,000 from the Scottish Veterans Fund in July as part of an overall £500,000 fund, which this year benefitted 25 projects across the country.
The service is now so popular that Fares4Free is appealing for volunteers to meet demand in rural areas.
Veterans Secretary Keith Brown said:
“This initiative is a fantastic example of the work supported by the Scottish Veterans Fund and I am delighted the grant has allowed the expanded roll-out of this vital service.
“Scotland has a long and proud military tradition. There are some fantastic organisations supporting our veterans in Scotland and money provided by the fund – totalling over £2.3m since 2008 - will help continue some really good work.
“We are committed to supporting our veterans and ensuring that they are not disadvantaged as a result of their service. Projects such as this will ensure our veterans are given the help that they need, when they need it.”
Bob Reid, DMWS Regional Manager Scotland and Overseas, said:
“Thanks to the support received we’re geared up to provide welfare support on journeys to appointments. Transport to healthcare appointments is a big issue for older veterans especially. It’s complex. Some people want to be accompanied on journeys, some just want a phone call, and others want someone to meet them when they arrive. We’ve learned to be flexible and imaginative to ensure everyone gets the support they need.”
Leon Fisher, Fares4Free Operations Manager, said:
“We continue to enhance and grow our volunteer network throughout the country but are actively seeking additional drivers to help us deliver this unique collaboration. It’s one which is tailored to users to establish exactly what’s needed so we can arrange a suitable solution and powered by dedicated staff, frequent meetings, and efficient administration to ensure the service is of the best quality – made evident by the growing popularity of the service.”
To request the escorted hospital appointment service contact either:
- DMWS on 0800 999 3697 (email@example.com) or
- Fares4Free on 0141 266 6000 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fares4Free is actively seeking volunteer drivers across Scotland. To find out more about volunteering call 0141 266 6000.
Since the Scottish Government created the Scottish Veterans Fund in 2008 almost 200 individual projects have been supported, receiving more than £2.3 million
Since his DMWS referral, Royal Air Force veteran Patrick Creechan, 91, has been supported to various medical appointments and taken to visit his wife in a hard-to-reach care home, helping combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Fares4Free outreach support driver John Symes also invited Patrick on a day out to enjoy any activity of his choosing. Patrick was ‘over the moon’ and - after visiting his wife and delivering chocolates to care home staff - the pair went for a drive, visiting areas from Patrick’s youth. This was followed by a lunch of fish-and-chips with Patrick insisting “it was the best meal I had eaten in months”.
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