Vast swathes of British ex-forces, having served the country find themselves unemployed, homeless, in debt and/or struggling with mental health conditions and disorders such as PTSD.
Veterans’ Benefit Lottery provides funds for The PTSD Project UK to support veterans of the UK Armed Forces, Reservists and Commonwealth Armed Forces Personnel with cost free assistance. The facilities/services provided are reliant on the level of support afforded to the VBL by the public; The PTSD Project UK neither apply for nor receive any kind of external funding from the Government, National Lottery funds or indeed any other source.
It should be known that there are no administration costs currently taken from the proceeds. This is because the entire process is administrated by a computer programme and volunteers. Even the payment processing company, Billsby, provide their services completely free of charge. The current arrangement with Billsby is for the first £50,000 worth of processing/handling charges to be waived, which equates to a staggering £5m of revenue for the organisation!
Their generosity is not overlooked by anybody at The PTSD Project UK and it is only because we have decided to tell the world of Billsby’s generosity that it is known at all. They did not ask for any publicity and offered the service free and unconditionally.
Sadly, this is not typical practice for a charity, good cause, social enterprise. Almost every single lottery you see being operated by various organisations are actually operated by independent External Lottery Managers who charge upwards of 50% but who take on the risk that prizes will need to be awarded. As is the case with many draws such as these, a prize is only awarded when a ‘live’ entry matches the number drawn. Typically, as a draw grows in size and therefore revenue, prizes are guaranteed to be awarded to ‘live’ entries. At the beginning of the process, more often than not, the operator will be insured against the event of a ‘live’ jackpot winner, which of course as the membership grows becomes more and more likely, forcing the insurance premium up until a break even point is reached, at which stage the operator assumes full responsibility for awarding the prizes which as the membership reaches the maximum number allocated becomes guaranteed to be awarded to a ‘live’ entry.
Support for the Veterans’ Benefit Lottery is rightly growing, but we are still a way from our target membership of 60,000 members. At the point we reach this figure we will be able to establish and sustain PTSD Walk In Centres across the UK, starting with a flagship centre in Glasgow followed by the other major towns and cities as time moves on. This will meet our desire to end the waiting times that are proving to be a killer of veterans. Surplus funds will be ploughed into programmes aimed at ensuring that every single veteran is in a safe and secure home, off the streets and with a brand new start. Follow up services such as after care and peer mentoring will also be supplied when the need arises. We have a central goal and a vision for the future. A future that is not decades away but a couple of years at the most, providing we can continue to grow at the rate we are doing so currently. We have the Veterans In Crisis Line operational now, manned by ex forces volunteers. This line is also where veterans can register for the Vulnerable Veterans Scheme, which is a programme in which we support ex forces men and women when they come to the attention of the authorities due to behavioral problems associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other related conditions and disorders.
One of the things that is a major challenge to ourselves is to do it all without the use of fundraising agencies, paid fundraisers or External Lottery Managers. We would not be stubborn to the point that it becomes detrimental to the services we have built and the people we support in the community, but we certainly have the desire, willpower and stamina to see this through to what we are convinced will be the conclusion we have envisaged all along…. one with veterans making a smooth transition into civilian life in the future, with The PTSD Project UK on hand to assist should there be a need and to do so promptly upon any issues arising, which we are convinced is the key to reducing suicides amongst veterans…. Early intervention coupled with learning from the mistakes made by those that were meant to support the forces veterans but were sadly found lacking. The families of the men who committed suicide after military service need to be listened to, they are surely the link to what was really going on and from them everybody can learn and adapt the way the system works. There is a fantastic organisation called ‘For The Fallen CIC’ that are a group of family members left behind by military suicide. They are the best place to start if you want to understand where we should be going.
With all of this being said, we are determined to do it our way, with no support from the Government or other such sources, which means that of course we must rely on the hard work of our social entrepreneurs, the generosity of the public and the tireless work of fundraising volunteers like our very own Batman Steve!
We do not understand why the problems that exist have not been dealt with by richer, better equipped and funded organisations that have been around for a lot longer than us. We accept the challenges we have set ourselves and will do everything within our power to make them happen. We can see no reason this cannot be done.
As a member of the Veterans’ Benefit Lottery you will also be invited to attend the AGM, which this year is held in Glasgow, you can do this by VideoLink or in person (space permitting). You will have the chance to voice your opinions, tell us what services you want, what we can do better and hopefully what we have done right too…. This is the people’s project. Please support it and help us be the best we can be.