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SSAFA and RECOOP working together for Armed Forces Day

Tuesday, June 19th 2018 - Liz Ropschitz

Once again, Armed Forces Day saw Liz Ropschitz, Health and Wellbeing Manager for RECOOP and HMP Dartmoor prison officer Chris Elliott raising the awareness of SSAFA, the charity whose support is available to all ex-services personnel and their families, both in the community and in custody.

In June 2018, SSAFA Devon received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) for relieving need, suffering and distress amongst the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in Devon. QAVS is the highest award given to voluntary groups.

Many people, whilst in the forces will have improved their opportunity for employment in civilian life, but they may have little time to have firm civilian life plans in place before leaving.

When leaving the services, men and women are not just changing employment, they are changing a complete life style. Their home has to be relinquished and the mutual trust and friendships they have with people, in whom they have invested a lot of time and shared experiences with, are no longer their neighbours and constant companions.

Procedural order to the day and the learnt responses to different ranks, giving self-confidence and imposed structure are no longer appropriate and this ‘transitional’ period is often a time of instability and unsettling experiences. It is a time to reflect on times past and a time to look forward to an unsettled, uncertain future.

Convictions, primarily involving violence, are more likely to occur within a short period following discharge.

All veterans in prison may request a meeting with a SSAFA Prison In-reach volunteer. This network of local volunteers and specialist Prison In-reach caseworkers provide advice and information to veterans in custody and their families. They offer practical support, such as getting hold of essential household items. They may also be able to assist with training and educational opportunities and equipment for this, plus support addressing issues such as housing and resettlement as release gets closer. SSAFA cannot make cash grants or provide legal support, but may be able to signpost to the right organisations.

SSAFA’s Prison In-reach service forms an essential part of support for veterans in custody and the specialist volunteers are trained in all aspects of working within the prison context, with a good understanding of both the Criminal Justice and prison systems.

RECOOP, SSAFA volunteers and prison staff in the Devon Prison Cluster continue to work together both in prison and in the community so that ex-servicemen and women entering the criminal justice system will be better supported.

Donations to RECOOP can be made either from our website or  

Donations to SSAFA can be made by visiting



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