A new project that aims to support carers within the Armed Forces Community who feel isolated or lonely is coming to Kent for the first time.
The Royal British Legion (RBL) has launched Network for Carers, offering monthly face-to-face and virtual social groups to provide opportunities for the military community in Chatham and Medway to access support and share knowledge and experiences. It is funded by a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust’s Tackling Loneliness programme.
Recent research from the RBL reveals that 70% of surveyed unpaid carers in the Armed Forces community experience a negative impact on their mental health, and over 50% say their physical health is suffering due to the strain of their caring responsibilities. For unpaid carers who have a family member currently serving in the Armed Forces, nearly 90% say their own mental health has been negatively affected. The research also identified that unpaid carers within the Armed Forces community are receiving half as much support as carers in the civilian population.
Despite carers in the Armed Forces community being at risk of loneliness and isolation, 40% of unpaid carers surveyed admitted they had received no support at all over the last two years. Over the course of the pandemic, half of these carers have seen a reduction in the availability of support and services that they and the person they care for need.
But now, for the first time in Kent, a face-to-face social group will meet at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on Saturday 9 April 2022 and will continue on a monthly basis.
Jane Britton, RBL’s Social Isolation Lead, said: “The RBL’s research has revealed a troubling situation for many carers in the Armed Forces community. The strain of caring has damaged their mental and physical health and very few are able to take a break which is why establishing this Network for Carers is so important. The purpose of this new project is to help Armed Forces carers feel less lonely and isolated because of their caring role. By connecting the military community with their shared memories and experiences, the Network for Carers social groups will support people to develop friendships, interests and engage more with their communities.”
Richard Morsley, Chief Executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “We are pleased to be working with RBL on this important new initiative. For centuries Chatham and Medway has developed such deep routes with the Armed Forces, it seems only fitting for us to be a host venue to continue to provide support for Armed Forces carers. We look forward to welcoming the RBL volunteers to our team and working with them to build this important support network for our community.”
In total, the RBL intends to establish twenty support groups across the UK, all held in safe environments connected to the Armed Forces community.