Forces in the Community
01159 220 320

Safety Catch

Safety Catch is a 2 day course for individuals who have served in the British Armed Forces. The courses, delivered nationally, are designed for individuals experiencing isolation, transitional issues, poor mental health and/or require support towards positive change.

Our knowledge of working with hundreds of veterans in similar circumstances has contributed to the development of the course.

The programme focuses on:

The aim is for individuals to function independently and contribute to society.

For further information or to reserve a place on a course please call us on 01159 220 320 or email

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10 July 2018 - 10:48pm

The UK are to send 440 more non-combat troops to Afghanistan making us the third largest contributor towards the NATO mission.

Forces in the Community shared a link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44787636

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30 June 2018 - 12:03am

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27 June 2018 - 10:19pm

Defence Committee conversation with the NHS regarding the clinical support provided to veterans.

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26 June 2018 - 9:59pm

Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission.

Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not
enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal.

True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts.

Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.

Brené Brown

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19 June 2018 - 8:40pm

The Mefloquine Single Point of Contact is for current and former service personnel who have concerns about their experience of Mefloquine (commercially known as Lariam).

Forces in the Community shared a link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mefloquine-advice-service-for-former-and-serving-personnel/mefloquine-advice-service-for-former-and-serving-personnel#i-am-a-nhs-gp-how-do-i-access-the-military-medical-records-of-my-patient

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17 June 2018 - 9:15pm

** Disabled Veterans’ Scholarships Fund **

If you have an interest in learning and maybe changing your future career path through the Open University have a look at the link below.

Forces in the Community shared a link: http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/choose/veterans#

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14 June 2018 - 8:44am

My Journey to Veteran Status

My life has been a challenge, with the softer feelings and emotions deserting me a long time ago. Isolation, loneliness and my capacity to care about myself filled the void. Before joining up I was not good enough. In the Army I experienced what ‘good enough’ felt like but without the military environment that I thrived in, the known and unwanted feelings of being not good enough returned.

For the last few years I have been trying to understand who I am and make sense of my life and the significant events.

From early in life I experienced rejection. As a young child I was constantly being reminded and punished for bad behaviour. I still have no recollection of why I was frequently smacked or received the slipper or wooden spoon. At no point did my behaviour deserve the punishment I received. I did not have the ability as a child to separate my behaviour, ‘I did something wrong’ (guilt), from my sense of who I was, therefore ‘I must be bad’ (shame) was the only way I could make sense of my experience. The various punishments reinforced my belief there was something wrong with me.

The constant reminders that I was defective in some way made me feel unwanted and unloved; I was not good enough as a son. My achievements throughout childhood went unnoticed and uncelebrated. I was frequently told I was lazy or could achieve more, try harder, work harder. At no point did I feel what I was doing was accepted or I was acceptable, as a son or as a human being.

My parents weren’t bad people. They were great at working, booking holidays and putting food on the table but not great at engaging with me or my emotions, so I had to try to make sense of my emotions by myself. Offering emotional availability to a child is the single biggest thing a parent can do.

At 15 I decided to join up. Why? I wanted to escape. To feel validated. To feel part of something, maybe join a family that would accept me for who I was. I wasn’t good enough for my childhood family so why stay. Maybe I could impress my parents if I joined up.

At 16 ‘Vidal’ was slicing through my civilian locks. Why were all Army barbers called Vidal? I was issued with green kit and suddenly I was a recruit. I was the same as everyone else. I looked the same. I was treated the same. Recognition was based on merit, it was fair. I felt wanted and accepted for who I was but I did have to learn how to fit in..

Then there were the rules and the discipline. Yes I tried to buck the system a bit but I was not used to boundaries and rules, as the rules I had grown up with were unfair and inconsistent which made me feel unsafe. At school I would push for boundaries and be rewarded with detentions for talking too much or messing about.

The military rules were firm, not open to negotiation and punishable if broken. I became a master pot washer. Adjusting to the rules took time but they helped me feel safe and part of the wider military family. I knew who I was and where I fitted in. The rules helped me to suppress my shame and ignore the emotional distress I felt in close relationships. I was close to some guys but only shared aspects of myself. Frequent postings helped to keep my feelings hidden and to learn that relationships come and go. So seeing an old friend now is great but walking away and not feeling anything is easy too.

Promotion. Responsibility. Respect. I felt good enough. For the first time in my life I felt I belonged. I belonged to the military family. I was understood. My sick, warped, dark sense of humour fitted in. The camaraderie and banter allowing me to be myself. Who I really was. No acting out. No clipping my humour. Accepted unconditionally. But I still kept the vulnerable part of me hidden from most.

Women. Yes. Too many. Relationships were all about sex. It was all about getting my needs met. I am a good few years older now and starting to learn what it really means to be in a relationship. My way of assessing a woman was ‘would I have sex with her’. Female friendships were underpinned by the possibility of sex. I had little understanding of how to form or be in a relationship. Once sex had happened there was no relationship or interest for me in having one. How did I know I offered any value to a woman? I was not good enough. My understanding that I had value was through sex. If we had sex I felt valued, good enough but then sought out the next unlucky woman.

I married and had children. I was not a good husband, I still needed sex from other women to help me feel good about myself. It was the part of me that military life and the guys did not get to see. In a close relationship I felt flawed whereas with the guys I was good enough. In reality I had no idea what it was like to be in a close relationship. How could I allow someone to love me when I had no love for myself.

I left the Army and my marriage unsurprisingly failed not long after. I lacked the skills to make a relationship work and pushed my young family away. I took any criticism badly; my not good enough process. Alone, isolated, with no understanding of what I could change. I felt suicidal.

Several jobs over a few years followed. I was looking for a sense of belonging. I wanted to be treated fairly. I wanted rules, respect and discipline. I wanted consistency. I found life outside the wire was totally different. In green I was part of a team who worked together and supported each other; as a civvy it felt like every man for himself. I often felt happiest in a role when I was left to do my own thing.

Leading psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s work with attachment styles provided some great learning for me. He researched the relationship between the baby and the main caregiver, usually the mother. As a child I learned to deal with my emotions by myself as my parents were not available to help me with my distress. His research was around the behaviour that the baby formed, from about 7 months, if its emotional needs were met or not met. There are four different attachment styles, one is secure and the other three are insecure; avoidant, ambivalent and disorganised. My insecure attachment style is avoidant.

When I experience emotional distress in my life my avoidant process still drives my want to be by myself. I cannot stay in contact with a significant other, I want to go for a walk, into another room or maybe stay in a hotel overnight. I need space. If the person keeps trying to talk to me I would get angry, to get them to back off. It could be my parents, my wife, friends or maybe someone at work. If I felt emotions connected to not feeling good enough I wanted space and nothing would stop me. Only I know how to calm me down. Not true but my early life experience was that I could not rely on others.

Shame, meaning ‘to cover’, is referred to as the master emotion as it sits behind so many other emotions. So how does my shame process work? It means everything I do is not good enough. I take no satisfaction from what I achieve as I always look for something else to do. I will help anyone but refuse any help offered to me. Imagine what that can be like for people who love me, to refuse their help. I will help you but you cannot help me. I do not do pride. Any compliments or kind words are bounced off as not being true but any slight criticism strikes to the core of who I am. It's a tiring process that doesn't let up. I want to feel good enough but it's an unknown feeling.

I came across a saying a few years ago “Being needed is the closest thing to feeling wanted”. It smacked me between the eyes. “Being needed” - my want to help others because I did not feel wanted as a child. I rescue others but who has ever rescued me? Do I know how to let someone rescue me? No I don't but if I want change I need to change.

Shame…speak it out. It gains its power from being hidden inside you. Get it out. Tell people. If you want change drive it. It was not mine to own, it was the result of me trying to make sense of my childhood. I will never be without my shame, it is part of who I am but I manage it now. I recognise it and challenge it. I am learning to accept I am good enough, whatever that means. I am also learning to be kinder to myself and to value my time. I have never been ‘bad’.

I had no choice as a child. I was an actor in a film directed by my parents. It was a badly directed film, with a poor script but I was the one who took the blame for it.

I have had to work hard to find my emotions. Big boys don’t cry was my childhood mantra. Not showing emotion meant I was strong. Wrong. Being emotionally genuine is a real strength, let the tears roll if need be.

To my brothers and sisters, life after service can be challenging. Talking about how you feel is a strength, not talking is the weakness. Denying yourselves emotions and feelings is not healthy. If you are alone, reach out. Isolation is still what I enjoy at times but I do not want it all the time. We are relational beings, it’s a part of being human.

I am not a victim of military life, I am grateful for the experience I had. I know I can be good enough because I have experienced it, therefore I can, and will, achieve it again. I know our experiences are all different and some of you have experienced some horrific scenes, don’t underestimate the effect of your childhood.

I tire of the 'experts' assuming military life is the root cause of problems. Veteran is not a diagnosis, it's a chapter in my life. PTSD is a part of life but it does not define a veteran. Understand the person, understand the impact of the trauma on the person.

I am a veteran and have some fantastic memories of military life. Waiting for 2 hours for the armoury to open at 5 o’clock in the morning was not good though. Being woken up at 3am to go ‘on stag’ was also not good, especially when it was raining. Show parades, beastings, stress positions, extra duties, on the bus…who am I kidding, I’d do it all over again. It was like being part of the greatest club in the world.

Best wishes to you all

A veteran

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9 June 2018 - 2:31pm

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6 June 2018 - 11:10am

We were with Stan in Normandy for his 90th birthday a couple of years ago. He was told “Thank you for our freedom” by a lovely French lady. Our thanks go to Stan and every other person who fought for our freedom.

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6 June 2018 - 10:10am

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

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19 May 2018 - 2:05pm

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge & Prince Harry shining a light on mental health issues.

As a country we need to do more. As parents we need to be emotional available for our children. As human beings we need to care more others. #oktosay

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19 May 2018 - 1:04pm

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

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9 May 2018 - 10:42pm

This is disgraceful. Hopefully the scrap merchant will act responsibly and let the police deal with the thieves.

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6 May 2018 - 4:04pm

Today sees Forces in the Community celebrate its 8th birthday. We are grateful for the efforts of some fantastic local people who support the charity and our ongoing work with over 800 veterans and family members.

Today also sees Rick Carnall, one of our fantastic volunteers, walk down the aisle to marry Amy. This is extra special as just over 2 months ago Rick suffered a serious heart attack. Best wishes to you both for today and your future together.

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25 April 2018 - 9:08pm

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17 April 2018 - 10:24pm

Sue is a fantastic woman (and volunteer) and continues to deservedly receive praise for the excellent support she provides.

"I would like to thank Sue and the staff at forces in the community for there help to change from DLA to PIP, Sue helped me to fill out the forms and help me to choose which evidence and letters to include with the form. Thank you"

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9 April 2018 - 11:25am

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7 April 2018 - 3:11pm

Ray Wilkins died this week but left a lasting impression on so many people. A great footballer, an even greater human being. This veteran experienced his compassion.

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12 March 2018 - 11:35am

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8 March 2018 - 10:06am

The Queen wore royal purple on a visit to the International Maritime Organization in London and celebrate its 70th anniversary. Loving the smile.

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5 March 2018 - 10:09am

The charity has no heating. Can anyone recommend a plumber? Error code E133 but the condensation pipe is clear. We have only had voice mail response when we have tried plumbers so far.

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2 March 2018 - 10:47am

Heating working...heating stops...check the outside pipe...yikes!!

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1 March 2018 - 8:45am

Due to the weather conditions and the potential travel problems later on today we have decided to close the office. If you need to make contact please email info@forces.org.uk
Stay safe.

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25 February 2018 - 9:03pm

A new helpline is launched for serving personnel and their familes mental health. What are your thoughts? What service do you feel is missing in the support of veterans? Are there currently enough services but a lack of co-ordination? Do too many organisations just signpost?

Forces in the Community shared a link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-secretary-shows-commitment-to-armed-forces-mental-health-with-over-220-million-funding-and-new-helpline

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21 February 2018 - 9:43am

7 veterans or family members were seen yesterday and provided with a range of support - housing, pension, mental health, employment and good old fashioned conversation. No electronic gadgetry needed!

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