Case study | Help for Heroes: Afghan Interpreters

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Help for Heroes is a charity dedicated to supporting veterans, their families, serving personnel, and people who worked alongside the UK military. They aim to improve the physical and mental health of their beneficiaries through providing individual tailored support, from mental health provision, case management financial hardship grants, property adaptation, managing your medical conditions well, and life skill courses.

Their support gives people the skills, confidence and knowledge to make a success of life in the civilian world. Helping people get back on their feet, their free online courses and self-help guides give people life skills so they can live independently whether they are having money problems, need somewhere to live, are struggling to get a job, or don’t know how to apply for benefits. They run sporting and social activities in-person and online to combat loneliness and isolation, and their grants team provide financial grants for things such as home adaptations, food and medical equipment, to help people overcome challenges from illness or injury.

Their challenges

As people who worked alongside the UK military, local Afghan interpreters, and those in similar roles, have put their lives on the line over the last twenty years. In recognition of this, many embedded civilians from Afghanistan have been relocated to the UK, many arrive facing the same injuries and traumas that the veterans Help for Heroes support. With both physical and psychological trauma clearly an issue, a number of Afghan interpreters required significant welfare support. Such support has been difficult to obtain for those newly arrived in the UK, so Help for Heroes established a dedicated team and hardship fund to support Afghan interpreters.

The interpreters can experience everything from psychological trauma and the effects of displacement; to physical health challenges, including limb amputations and long-term pain and mobility issues; and welfare support needs, the most pressing of which was access to food and clothing. As many of them have arrived in the UK with nothing, emergency access to essential items is a pressing issue.

Usually supporting beneficiaries from dedicated support centres, the challenge with the Afghan Interpreters scheme was the geographic spread of beneficiaries, often in remote locations across the UK. Help for Heroes needed a quick and simple way to support their beneficiaries with food and clothing, while navigating the challenges of working remotely and digital exclusion.

Our solution

FFBS understand the need for a quick solution when a beneficiary is in need of food and clothing, we worked together with Help for Heroes to offer the provision of supermarket vouchers to those in need. Our supermarket vouchers provision gives customers or their carers the choice of Asda, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s or Tesco vouchers which increased the likelihood of a suitable shop being close to the recipient. The recently launched Sainsbury’s voucher was particularly popular during this scheme thanks to being speedy to provide and offering 7 day per week provision.

Beneficiaries have the option to ‘print-off’ the vouchers to take to their nearest store or show the voucher barcode on their smartphone which can help to tackle some of the challenges in relation to emailed vouchers that many beneficiaries encountered. If the beneficiary is unable to leave their home for any reason they can ask a carer, neighbour, friend or relative to collect the food shopping on their behalf, as long as they are in receipt of the relevant voucher details.

The results

Several hundred beneficiaries have received support of essential food and clothing since their arrival as a result of this scheme. Having been relocated thousands of miles, many suffering from physical and mental trauma, it is likely many will have faced problems accessing support. Thanks to this scheme, Help for Heroes have delivered food and clothing to those in their hour of need.

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