This Mental Health Awareness Week, we are featuring one of many stories from our service users. This story belongs to Jim and Sally, a husband and wife pair who joined Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) after spotting one of our adverts in a magazine. They rang us up, found out when to drop by, and joined us for a ‘Mid-Monthly Muster’ at the Royal Maritime Hotel.
“We had a look round the room with all the people that were available to help, and really neither of us have looked back ever since,” Sally recalls.
They’ve found a community where they belong, alongside dozens of other local veterans from the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, and Merchant Navy plus their spouses/partners and carers.
“I can get into it with a bunch of chaps who’ve got the same attitude to life as I have,” Jim says. “You know, let’s enjoy ourselves when we can!”
Here’s what the pair had to say when they sat down for a chat with our Wellbeing & Volunteers Manager, Wendy Pearson.
In the video, you can hear Sally explain that before VOS, Jim was ‘ageing before his time.’ She says VOS brought back a cheerful version of her husband that she hadn’t seen in years.
Jim has lived an exciting life, with a varied career including time in both the Army Catering Corps and the Merchant Navy.
“He is always ready to tell stories of adventures at sea, friends he has made around the world and places he has seen,” Sally shared with VOS in a written testimonial. “When Jim retired, he continued to enjoy an active lifestyle until the worst happened and he suffered heart attacks and bowel cancer. Finally, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia and his active life came to a grinding halt.”
Like many among us, Jim was experiencing health difficulties which resulted in depression. He had withdrawn from activities he once loved and lost all interest in getting out and about. Sally remembers the day this began to change:
“One day in 2022, when things were very low, I noticed an advert for VOS. Reading this I wondered if this was somewhere I could take Jim to rekindle his interest in life…From that moment Jim began to perk up. Excited as the day drew near, the welcome we received was wonderful. From that first day onwards his mood lifted.”
Now both Jim and Sally look forward to the wellbeing activities VOS runs, including craft sessions and boat trips. These adventures are free and accessible thanks to VOS’ generous donors, funders, and volunteers. Jim says his son (a fellow veteran who now lives in Australia) was jealous of their time on the motor gun boat– an unforgettable trip spent speeding down the Solent! Another highlight was their recent visit to the Cotswolds via VOS to attend a book binding session with Bound By Veterans.
“Having VOS in our lives has made such a positive impact on both of us,” Sally shares. “Friends, neighbors, and his Dementia nurses all say Jim has ‘come alive’ again. He is back to the cheerful chatty man he was before his illnesses…He has new friends with similar memories and he has a positive focus now. I can never thank VOS enough for what they do.”
To anyone considering joining Veterans Outreach Support, Jim has a simple message:
“I’d advise them to come here. In fact, I’d be honoured to be able to talk to somebody and get them to come here…we do all sorts of things, and also you can get advice, you know. It’s a place you can go and get advice if you’ve got a problem.”
If you’re a veteran from the UK Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy (from any time of service) or a partner to one, VOS would love for you to join our community. We are here to offer our support: call us on 02392 731 767, visit an upcoming drop-in, or email email@example.com.
VOS is immensely grateful to all of our funders, volunteers, and delivery partners, as without their support we would not be able to provide our wellbeing activities.