The VSO was established to develop the capacity to deliver the Armed Forces Covenant in Northern Ireland. We achieve this by developing strong working links between Devolved Government Departments, Local Government Veterans’ Champions and the voluntary and charitable sector. This ensures that Veterans living in Northern Ireland do not experience disadvantage as a result of their Service in the Armed Forces and have the same access to services and support as any other citizen.
The VSO has 5 main tasks:
Veterans living in Northern Ireland may contact the VSO directly if they have a problem in accessing services or support. The VSO is uniquely positioned to address these issues through links with Devolved Government Departments, Local Government Veterans’ Champions and the voluntary and charitable sector organisations who are responsible for delivering services to support Veterans in Northern Ireland. The VSO will contact the appropriate organisation or organisations to help, and will monitor the outcomes and follow up as needed.
The VSO has fostered strong relationships with a number of organisations and other key stakeholders in Veteran services to ensure that they support the development and delivery of the Covenant. The provision of advice, information, guidance, oversight and training to organisations will bring improvements to individuals’ abilities to access services and will broaden the scope of support in Northern Ireland. A map of service providers operating in Northern Ireland is available via our Local Support page.
The VSO plays a key role in building coherence and co-ordination among services in Northern Ireland through our facilitation of the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Committee (NIVSC). The NIVSC has been set up in Northern Ireland, under Ministerial guidance, to improve cooperation between those organisations who are permanently based in Northern Ireland and are committed to delivering practical support to Veterans. The committee is also designed to act as a pool of expertise which can be consulted with a view to providing a consensus on Veterans’ issues in Northern Ireland for policy makers and interested parties. The VSO provides the coordination and national ‘voice’ for the NIVSC.
In addition to working closely with a range of existing Veteran support services in Northern Ireland, the VSO also plays a role in the development of new local services by encouraging and facilitating funding applications to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund. There are a number of large health and wellbeing programmes within the fund, which the VSO promotes and works to facilitate collaborative bids from Northern Ireland based organisations. However, the fund also offers a local grants programme which awards payments of up to £20,000 for smaller projects that support community integration or local delivery of services to Veterans. The VSO can offer advice and guidance on applications to the fund. Click here to read more about the fund.
Outcomes will be achieved through liaison with the appropriate charity or service provider or by making bespoke arrangements for individual veterans. Outcomes will be recorded and this is turn will inform best practice and the development of protocols, which will be shared widely amongst members of the NIVSC and other service providers. Noteworthy outcomes and events will be shared on this website. Ultimately all outcomes will, in some way, inform future policy and strategy.