Highwood Gardens at Charborough Park - Open Day Saturday 26th May
Wonderful Gardens open to view to raise funds for SSAFA Dorset
SSAFA Dorset are grateful once again to be able to hold an open afternoon at the wonderful Highwood Gardens at Charbrough Park Estate near Sturminster Marshall on Saturday 26th May 2018. The gardens are beautiful in May with spectacular rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom. Bring the family for a wonderful afternoon in these peaceful and scenic gardens. We'll have teas and home made cakes on sale too. Tickets cost £5 for adults and £2.50 for children ( 6-16 ) with all proceeds supporting the work of SSAFA across Dorset. We regret that only guide dogs can be admitted.
The gardens are located at Charborough Park, A 31 near Wareham, Dorset BH20 7EN
Looking for new volunteers to work in our charity shop in Poole.
Raising valuable funds for our work across Dorset.
The only SSAFA charity shop in the UK is located in Church Road, Parkstone, Poole. Staffed by a wonderful team of volunteers, the shop is open 6 days a week, every morning and some afternoons. The shop receives a good range of quality donations of ladies, men's and children's clothes, accessories, toys and items for the home. We would like to open the shop into every afternoon but need new volunteers to help us staff longer opening hour. We are looking for people who are able to help sort donations, create attractive shop displays, handle money and help customers and work as part of a team. Perhaps you and a friend might want to come and work together for a dew hours each week ? We are very happy to offer the opportunity to come and see whether this might be the role for you by working with us for a few hours to experience working in the shop. If you would are interested to know more about working in our shop please get in tough either by leaving your contact details at the shop or email our Branch Secretary, Tony Erwood: Tony.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting veterans in the criminal justice system.
Our North Dorset Team.
John Barrett leads our wonderful team in North Dorset covering the areas around Blandford, Shaftesbury and Gillingham. John’s team of caseworkers support veterans and their families in their local area as well as supporting veterans in the criminal justice system who are serving custodial sentences at either Guys Marsh or Portland prisons, as well as the soon to be re-opened HMP The Verne. Known as Prison In Reach (PIR) caseworkers, these colleagues offer practical support to those veterans who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Importantly they also offer support to the families of veterans in custody. The North Dorset Team support around 80 cases per year of which on average, 10 will involve veterans serving custodial sentences.
Every case will be different but PIR caseworkers will offer practical support and advice to those in custody to help them through their time in detention and then plan for their release. This will involve working with prison and probation staff to help find accommodation, gain employment and training opportunities and practical support around their health and resettlement needs. Support for veterans on release is really important especially where they have limited or no family ties. Supporting these individuals to re-build their lives again is a crucial part of what John’s PIR caseworkers do. If a veteran is settling in another location, SSAFA Dorset will contact the relevant team covering that area to ensure that a local PIR caseworker is on hand to continue the support offered.
There is a network of 127 PIR caseworkers across the country, supported by a Veteran In Reach team at Central Office. John Barrett, a very experienced SSAFA member, is also the PIR Co ordinator for all South West England. It is estimated that somewhere between 3.5% and 7% of the current prison population may be former military personnel so the need is very real both for these individual and their families.
The North Dorset Team also have a close working relationship with the Blandford In Service Team based at Blandford Camp. This team support serving military personnel and their families who are based at Blandford. Vicki Hawtree leads this team. (Please see SSAFA Blandford Camp Facebook page for more details about this team.)
SSAFA volunteers working in Weymouth and Portland
Our caseworkers in Weymouth and Portland
Maureen Sherren leads our fabulous team of six caseworkers who cover the area of Weymouth and Portland. Maureen recently took over the role from Derek Hope who had been the Divisional Secretary with the team for more than four years. Derek was a wonderful team leader and very passionate about supporting those people from Weymouth and Portland who sought our help. He has now moved to another part of the country and is still involved with SSAFA and we are really grateful to him for his time, energy and commitment.
Maureen and her husband Dan, (a trainee caseworker with the team,) both served with the Royal Navy and the majority of the caseworkers within Maureen’s team come from a military background with most being former Royal Navy personnel. The team have an office at Pilgrim House, Hope Square in Weymouth where they meet each Tuesday and Maureen is very happy to meet personally with anyone wanting more information or advice about the support on offer, if they wish to call in on Tuesday mornings between 10am and 1pm.
In common with other teams across Dorset, the Weymouth and Portland team are currently helping a wide range of ex service personnel and their family members who have sought help from SSAFA. Their clients are both men and women and come from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Everyone who seeks help receives friendly and non-judgemental advice and support from experienced caseworkers.
One of the more frequent issues that case workers deal with are problems concerning housing, for example where clients are struggling to pay their rents and need to move somewhere more affordable, or because they have lost their homes for some reason. The team have strong connections with the local authority housing team as well as other organisations who support those needing this type of support. Helping veterans who are homeless is a key priority and the team have worked closely with Alabare, a Christian care and support charity that works specifically to support those who are vulnerable, in need of support or who may have been marginalised in some way. The charity has a dedicated housing for veterans scheme which offers provision in Weymouth. The Charity supports veterans by helping them to rebuild confidence and health and equips them with the necessary skills to live fulfilled and independent lives. They offer bespoke support for each person, helping them to tackle the issues which led to them becoming homeless, providing access to training for work or just basic life skills such as healthy eating and managing budgets, so that they can live independently. The charity also supports veteran to move on into new permanent homes at an appropriate time, with on-going support in the first few months.
Debt and financial problems is another common issue faced by SSAFA clients. The team have forged good links with a range of charities and organisations who can assist such as Step Change and the Citizens Advice Bureau. Caseworkers understand the stress and worry that financial problems bring and help their clients to access all of the available support to help them find a realistic way of resolving their difficulties.
Many veterans also struggle with mental health issues and caseworkers are seeing younger former service men and women who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Again, caseworkers provide empathetic and practical support to help veterans access the full range of support that is available locally.
So if you need the support of the SSAFA team at Weymouth and Portland or know someone who might benefit from their help, please contact the team on 01305 458487. An answerphone service for out of hours is regularly monitored. Similarly, if you work with an organisation that could work collaboratively to support veterans in the Weymouth and Portland area, Maureen would be very happy to hear from you.
There will be several opportunities to meet members of the Weymouth and Portland team later this summer, both at the Weymouth Armed Forces Weekend on 23rd and 24th June and later in the year at the Portland Southwell Village Fayre on Saturday 4th August. There will be further details in our events section shortly.
SSAFA is also looking for new volunteers to fill the role of caseworker, as a visitor or to support fundraising. If you would like to know more about working with the Weymouth and Portland team, please call Maureen Sherren on 01305 458487 or email her: email@example.com.
A welcome to Dorset SSAFA from Chair, Sally Cadec
Welcome to our county page, I am Sally Cadec and I am the Chair of the Dorset Branch of SSAFA. I have a wonderful team of volunteers who do some amazing work across the county every day, working with our veterans and their families to support them through difficult times. I hope you will find the stories and photographs on this page interesting and that they give you a better insight into what we do. If you would like to know how we might help someone who would benefit from our assistance or you would like to join our team, please get in touch. We'd be delighted to hear from you. Thank you, Sally.
SSAFA volunteers working in Purbeck, Dorset.
The district of Purbeck which includes Swanage, Wareham and Studland is covered by our fantastic team led by Robin Gainsford. Robin’s caseworkers are experienced in their roles with SSAFA but also bring a wealth of professional skills from their former paid roles, such as policing, the military, Royal Navy, NHS and working for the Citizen Advice Bureau. Meeting Robin and his team you are immediately struck by both the warmth of their welcome, the passion they display for their roles and their team endeavour. They have been particularly successful in resolving some of the more intractable problems encountered by our veterans such as helping them to successfully find their way through local council bureaucracy in housing and benefit claims and appeals or in resolving issues relating to in- service pensions. Case workers require good listening skills, tenacity to work their way through difficult issues especially in making benefit related claims and an understanding for the position of those they help. This team has those skills in huge quantities and they work together to help each other with the more unusual or difficult problems. They also have good working relationships with other local agencies who offer assistance such as Citizen Advice, which complements their case work. They very much value the fact that they work as a team and support each other. If you live in or near the Purbeck District and think you might like to join this team, we would love to hear from you. Caseworkers need good people skills, time to dedicate to meeting their clients and supporting their cases, good IT skills and a practical, caring outlook. If this sounds like you, please do get in touch. Robin Gainsford can be contacted on 01929 471419 if you would like to talk about our volunteering roles in Purbeck.