Ben's Story - WIS & Veterans Programme

Please note that all names have been changed.

Ben was referred to Step Together Volunteering by the Royal British Legion. At the time, he had only just started getting support from military charities following being medically retired from the Civil Service due to injuries sustained while serving in the Army. He was no longer working and was thoroughly hacked off with life, and feeling pretty low.

A meeting was set up with our VPM Elaine, who subsequently accompanied him on a visit to the Royal Artillery Museum. He admitted that, due to lack of confidence, he probably wouldn’t have gone without her support. Ben was interested in helping to transcribe war records, so he signed up to volunteer with the museum. His main task was translating the World War 1 war records into language which could be understood by those who hadn’t spent time in the forces as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project.

Volunteering on the project gave Ben the confidence to approach the Tank Museum at Bovington about their volunteering opportunities. He began helping them with the digitisation of war diaries and cataloguing documents in their archive. Ben said that without the support of Step Together Volunteering he wouldn’t have approached the Tank Museum.

He had a fantastic sense of achievement in what he had done for the museums and felt appreciated while doing a fulfilling role.

It has taken some time to get used to the flexibility of the role if I’m not feeling well, but it is just like working again, being part of a team and enjoying the social side of it.
Ben, Step Together Volunteering Client

He feels that one of the great things about Step Together Volunteering is that he knows they are in the background supporting him if there are any problems, like when he had to reduce his hours because of his health.

Volunteering has helped me to learn how to manage my health. I was frustrated because I wanted to do more, but it has helped me to learn how to pace myself and not over-do it.
Ben, Step Together Volunteering Client

When the world went into lockdown due to Covid-19, Ben was pleased that he was still able to continue with his transcribing of the diaries from home. He felt that if he hadn’t had his volunteering to keep him occupied and giving him something to aim for, he would have been back to square one with his mental health. At the time of writing, he has almost finished the diary he is on and is already in contact with the museum to get another one sent to him while he waits for volunteers to be allowed back to the museum. Ben also put his name down for an archaeological dig later in the year, potentially leading to going to France the following year to excavate WW1 tanks.

I can’t thank Step Together Volunteering and Elaine enough. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am now. You gave me a gentle push in the right direction and followed it up with regular support. I am really grateful for all your support. My journey is still ongoing but I’m getting there. The whole experience has been fantastic. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Step Together Volunteering to others in a similar situation to mine.
Ben, Step Together Volunteering Client

Ben's Story

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