New Gosport scheme offers financial advice to armed forces veterans

The launch of the MoneyWatch scheme. From left,  Citizen's Advice case worker Yvonne Winstanley, project lead for Citizen's Advice Rosemary Maxwell, chair of trustees at Citizen's Advice Gosport Richard Mackay, chief officer of Citizen's Advice Gosport Valerie Kelly, founding trustee for FirstLight Trust Dorinda Wolfe Murray and support co-ordinator for FirstLight Trust Justin Oswald Picture: Sarah Standing (180864-9526)
The launch of the MoneyWatch scheme. From left, Citizen's Advice case worker Yvonne Winstanley, project lead for Citizen's Advice Rosemary Maxwell, chair of trustees at Citizen's Advice Gosport Richard Mackay, chief officer of Citizen's Advice Gosport Valerie Kelly, founding trustee for FirstLight Trust Dorinda Wolfe Murray and support co-ordinator for FirstLight Trust Justin Oswald Picture: Sarah Standing (180864-9526)
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AN ADVICE service has been set up in Gosport to provide support to armed forces veterans who are struggling with their finances.

MoneyWatch, a new scheme from Citizens Advice Gosport, aims to advise veterans on how to manage debts, bills and other payments.

According to Citizens Advice, a sizeable portion of armed forces personnel struggle with their finances after leaving active service, with a total of 4,275 veterans living in the town.

The service says that the financial demands of life out of uniform can overwhelm those who have served in the armed forces.

Run in association with FirstLight Trust – a charity supporting veterans in the town – veterans are given one-to-one support to help them tackle any financial issues they may face.

Dorinda Wolfe Murray, the founder of FirstLight Trust, says that the scheme is a chance to improve the financial support received by veterans, right from the moment they leave the armed forces.

She explained: ‘This is a long-term programme where we can properly investigate what needs to be done to prevent armed forces veterans from falling into debt.

‘Too often people leave the armed forces and don’t truly understand how to manage their finances – they either struggle to keep everything under control or their high credit scores make them a target for payday loans and the like.

‘Either way, it puts them in a very difficult situation.

‘We've been told by experts that this is a huge challenge to take on, simply because of how big of a problem it can be for armed forces personnel.

‘But I am really excited about it because it’s a chance to find the source of their problems and try to prevent it in the future – as well as supporting those who are already facing financial difficulties.’

Currently, the scheme has been implemented in Gosport, Scarborough and Redcar.

Dorinda added: ‘One of the key things faced by armed forces veterans, especially the younger ones, is a general lack of financial literacy.

‘They prioritise the wrong things and might not know how to correctly approach their finances.

‘From our experience, the longer people spend in the armed forces, the more difficult it is to adjust to civilian life afterwards – the same issues for finding a job and so on will also apply to things like budgeting.

‘Gosport Citizens Advice has been incredibly proactive with the scheme, so we already have quite a few armed forces veterans on board with the programme.’

Valerie Kelly, chief officer at Gosport Citizens Advice, added: ‘We know there is a strong link between money issues and poor mental health and this is especially relevant for people who work in stressful and demanding roles.

‘By partnering with the FirstLight Trust, we will be able to provide practical and emotional support for hundreds of local veterans and emergency service workers.

‘This is the first project of this kind that we have been able to provide which offers holistic support to veterans and members of the blue light services.’