Alex’s Big Aberdeen Story
Alex Grant 62, from Northfield, Aberdeen served in the Northern Ireland conflict for seven years between 1970 and 1977. “In the years when I first came back from my service it seemed as if my life has almost gone back to normal. I went back to work, I was spending time with my family and friends, and it all seemed alright. It wasn’t until my mother passed away in 2002 that the post traumatic stress hit me. I broke down during the funeral and it all just came back. All the feelings I have been pushing to the back of my head. For five years I was lost. I put myself in a social isolation, I lacked purpose, I just did not care about anything. I could not sleep; I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, remembering all the horrible things. I even had thoughts of suicide crossing my mind. During those years I had my family there for me and I also was getting doctors’ help, but nothing seemed to make a difference.
One morning in 2007 I was walking down the street on my way to the post office and that’s when Jack Dunlop approached me. He asked me if I served in the forces and I said yes! He said I should go along to their meeting on the 27th of March 2007 and join him and the rest of the veterans that were forming a self-help group.
That day changed my life for the better! I dressed up and stood up proud! After that meeting, we formed the North East Scotland Disabled Veterans Association (NESDVA). We now have 37 active members – 36 male and 1 female. NESDVA gave me purpose again. This is my second family. For people like me it is important to find your “safe places”. My first was my family and my second became NESDVA. And the more “safe places” you find, the better you feel. At some point you start being comfortable being back in the community.
Ever since I became involved I am in a better place! I am comfortable talking in front of people and crowds don’t bother me anymore; family time is valuable again. I can plan for the future and I have a reason to get up in the morning! I feel appreciated and needed!”
NESDVA’s Chairman Mr Ron always has the support of all as have two other committee members . Alex Grant is Secretary/Treasurer and Mr Colin McIntyre is standard bearer and security officer. The members representative on the committee is Mr Dave Rennie.
Aberdeen Issues from this story
- When the help you need is not local to the North East, who do you turn to?
- Do men find it more difficult to talk about their feelings?
- What support is there for self-help?
NESDVA are Alex’s STORYTELLER.
Our self-help group is a place where people that have gone through similar experience have the chance to get together and open up about it. You get to talk about stories that you wouldn’t share with your family. And that brings us all closer together.
We are easily approachable and anyone who wants to can come along. They don’t even have to talk, they could just sit with a paper and simply spend time with the group – everyone has their own way of dealing. There are people that joined us during a very dark time of their life and are now, after a couple of months, back working and enjoying their families and friends. Whenever a member goes to the hospital, we visit regularly and spend time with their family, and if the worst happens, we would always support the member’s family and try and make it easier for them. Once you join NESDVA you become a part of a bigger family.
Our proudest achievement is that that we managed to get registered as a charity. The organisation is non political, non racial, non sexist and non religious accepts anyone no matter who they are as long as they have fought under the Colours.
Through the hard work by the committee members we now have our own 17 seat minibus, through the STV appeal run in conjunction of The Peoples Million Lottery Grants Scheme. We have now got the minibus sign written with the courtesy of Mark 1 Signs in East Tullos who donated the work they had done.
Our fuel is now sponsored by Highland Fuels from Inverness and we are ever so grateful to them for their kindness.
The one thing that we are looking to change in the future is getting our own premises. We are currently meeting at the Disabled Veterans Centre but we would very much like it if we could manage to get our own place.
If you would like to join, donate, volunteer or help NESDVA contact
http://www.nesdva.co.uk/ Mr Ron Robertson (Chairperson) Phone: 07886 887428
North East Scotland Disabled Veterans Association, Mastrick Community Centre,
Greenfern Road, Aberdeen AB16 6TR 01224 690938 Email: email@example.com
- Erskine – has been proud to care for our veterans since 1916. We provide unrivalled nursing, residential, respite and dementia care in four homes throughout Scotland for over 1,000 UK veterans and their spouses. Uniquely offering a very special blend of dedicated care and compassion in the companionship of like-minded people. To find out more about supporting Erskine in the North East, please call Michael on 07811 326206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Poppy Scotland – If you would like to give back to help improve the lives of those who serve and defend us, Poppyscotland has a wide and varied range of fundraising and volunteering opportunities
- Gordon Highlanders – The Gordon Highlanders Museum has a full programme of events throughout the year, and there is always something for everyone!
- SSAFA – The UK’s oldest national military charity. They support serving men and women, veterans and their families in times of need – offering welfare and social work services, health care, housing and specialist assistance.
- Combat Stress – The UK’s leading Veterans’ mental health charity. They provide free specialist clinical treatment and welfare support to all Veterans suffering from psychological injuries. Currently they are helping over 5900 ex-Service men and women rebuild their lives – of which 971 are Afghanistan Veterans.
- HorseBack UK – A charity which has been created to provide a safe and secure environment to aid the recovery of service men & women and veterans, who have suffered either physical or mental injuries as a result of their commitment to their country.
- Help for Heroes – Founded in 2007 to provide direct, practical support for wounded, injured and sick Veterans, Servicemen and woman and their loved ones.
- Big White Wall – A safe online community of people who are anxious, down or not coping. They support each other by sharing what’s troubling them, guided by trained professionals who ensure the safety and anonymity of members. Available 24/7 – it is free to all UK serving personnel, veterans and their families.
- Loons (Limbless Organisation of North East Scotland) – Support to all Amputees, those about to become Amputees and all Families and Friends of Amputees. Contact Dave McDonald for more information email@example.com (01224 644749)
- Alex says “We turned to ACVO for help with establishing the organization and registering it as a charity. Sandy Mathers was helping us with the governing bits and Alison Chandler helped us get started. Sandy and Alison have both become honorary members ( non participating) of the Association. Sandy has developed our constitution and keeps the association updated in any changes that need to be made. “ For Development (Governance) support, including to establish self-help groups, contact Sandy.Mathers@acvo.org.uk or Fundraising support contact Alison.Chandler@acvo.org.uk
What Happened Next
- Alex commented “I would like to thank you for thinking of me for the 10aberdeenstories and I must say that it was an enjoyable experience meeting Diana, she listened to what I said and put it across very well. I have read the story and sent it to Ron Robertson(chairman) and have also added it to my Facebook page so that all my friends and family can also read it. So on behalf of my family/N.E.S.D.V.A. and myself a very big THANK YOU.”
- Michael Parks commented “It was fantastic to read such an inspiring story about how NESDVA has helped turn your life around after your experiences as a veteran. It’s reassuring to know that there are services like these available for veterans in the North East.
Working for Erskine means that I’m reminded on a daily basis how important our veterans are. I often talk to the veterans in our homes and it’s always humbling to hear their stories of their experiences. We have one veteran that was on the ship that set sail for the Yalta Conference between Great Britain, USA and Russia! Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden were on board the ship and our veteran still remembers it fondly.
If you’re ever in the Glasgow, Bishopton or Edinburgh area and would like to visit one of our homes for a tour then do please let me know. Our veterans are always delighted to meet other like minded people. I’m based in Buckie so I could also drop in to your Centre.
Wishing you and everyone at NESDVA a merry Christmas and all the best for 2016!”