The SSAFA Forcesline confidential helpline team

Support is just a phone call away

19 April 2016

Support is just a phone call away

Meet Emma, Caroline and Emily; SSAFA’s Forcesline telephone support team. Last year the team handled more than 20,000 calls and emails from our Armed Forces community. We asked the team what it’s really like to be at the end of the phone, listening and helping to change someone’s life.

What is Forcesline?

Emma: “Forcesline is SSAFA’s front line for enquires from beneficiaries, serving personnel, veterans and their families and also our volunteers. We provide a free confidential listening and advice service, independent of the chain of command.”

Tell us about the types of calls you receive.

Caroline: “Majority of the enquiries we receive are from veterans in need of financial assistance. However, we also speak to serving personnel who are struggling with an issue that they just want to talk through confidentially. This can include advice for those who may be absent without official leave (AWOL). We also speak to bereaved families seeking advice and help with funeral costs. They are often quite emotional and share with us their loved one’s stories.”

“We listen and signpost callers to the appropriate service depending on the issue such as free initial legal advice services, specialist helplines for bullying and harassment or their service related welfare teams. We signpost callers to organisations that can provide the specific support they need, whether that is through SSAFA, other specialist charities or statutory organisations.”

How do you feel when you help callers to get the support they need?

Emily: “The service we provide makes a huge difference. When I leave the office, it is satisfying knowing that we have given people the information on how to get support and their lives back on track. We get regular responses to our emails and calls thanking us. It’s a very rewarding position to be in.”

Caroline: “The simplest of things can make a huge difference to our serving personnel, veterans and their families. For example, I took a call from a veteran who simply wanted to thank everyone for his new cooker. He can now have a proper chicken dinner again, a simple necessity he loved and had missed.”

What would you say to anyone who hasn’t had the courage to pick up the phone and call Forcesline?

Emily: “Thanks to our supporters, SSAFA has the resources to help people in need of assistance. It’s not a hand out but a helping hand so that people who serve or have served can live with their dignity and pride intact. If they need information, support or just someone to talk to, we are here for them.”

Caroline: “We never judge. We just want to make sure people get the right support for themselves and their families.”