Last month, we commissioned an external evaluation of our Rehabilitation through Volunteering programme which supports wounded, injured and sick (WIS) service personnel and veterans across the UK. The programme helps these individuals to make significant change in their lives through 1:1 support and active engagement in local community volunteering placements to aide their recovery and transition into civilian life. The feedback has been extremely positive and we wanted to share some of the results with our supporters.
As part of the evaluation, the evaluation team contacted every single WIS client who had been referred to Step Together over the past 6 years. Of the clients who undertook volunteer placements, 100% reported that they had gained positive outcomes from their volunteering experience(s) related to their well-being. 70% reported an increased in confidence, 68% reported positive effects of the feeling of giving, 64% said that their volunteering reduced isolation, and 46% stated that it helped reduce feelings of depression.
The most common outcomes highlighted by the survey, which applied to over two-thirds of respondents, were enjoyment, feeling of giving, increase in confidence, reduced isolation and greater feeling of being part of the community. Other significant outcomes, for around half of respondents, were developing new friendships, reduced anxiety, and developing structure and routine.
"The biggest [my volunteering] has given me is hope. It is scary coming out of a job into civilian life. I felt I was facing a world I was once part of (civilian life), but that I was not sure of anymore. To be able to work alongside non-military people volunteering has made me feel that I am less reluctant to give up or hide away. Now I am waiting to start a second volunteer placement at the Dogs Trust. I want to go into working with dogs as a job so this will help me with a new career."
"Volunteering diverted my negative chain of thought and it gave me another routine, which I needed because I was not in a good place mentally. It gave me a purpose and something to be interested in. help to divert my brain and give me something different, a fresh challenge. It took me out of my comfort zone, which was good as it focused me to learn. The volunteering offered me a focus and I was able to look forward to getting out of the house."
"You've made me feel so excited about my future"
We are delighted that 90% of ex-clients said that the concept behind the Step Together programme, that volunteering helps WIS service personnel and veterans to transition into society, is valid, and 90% said they would recommend the service to others. The evaluation concluded that, as well as achieving its outcomes, the programme is strongly client-focused, efficient, and 'a model for other services'.