SSAFA expands mentoring service nationwide, providing support to all service leavers.

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is now rolling out their Mentoring Service to all members of the Armed Forces to assist with their transition period. Mentees reported a 35% reduction in isolation thanks to the service.

SSAFA is set to roll out its mentoring service to all personnel leaving the Armed Forces. The expansion comes after the successful trial at Catterick Garrison, following the initial launch of the service in 2014 which has provided support to 560 wounded, injured or sick individuals leaving the Forces, and their family members. 

SSAFA established a mentoring programme in 2014 to support the transition of individuals returning from various theatres of operation who were, in some way, wounded, injured or sick (WIS) and, because of this, had been discharged from military service.

Since its inception in 2014, SSAFA’s Mentoring Programme has mentored 560 individuals and their family members. The mentoring service provides holistic, one-to-one, face-to-face support through volunteer mentors for up to two years post service. 

In January 2018, the charity expanded the Mentoring trial at Catterick to offer mentoring to include non-WIS personnel and their families. Since the trial’s addition, the service has engaged with 65 extra service leavers – of which 27 have received one-to-one mentoring. 

Mentees of the trial experienced a 31 per cent increase in feelings of happiness in themselves, a 35 per cent reduction in social isolation and more than 20 per cent improvement in their financial and housing stability.

Following the success of the trial at Catterick Garrison, the charity realised the need for Mentoring across the UK, with service being officially rolled out across the UK from 2 March 2020.

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is the UK’s oldest national tri-service military charity and provides lifelong support to serving personnel, veterans and their families. 

Most service leavers thrive in civilian life. However, some struggle if complications aren’t addressed early enough, leading to more drastic intervention later on.

When Jack Valentine was medically discharged from the Royal Navy in 2017, he was left facing an uncertain future at the age of just 25. Jack developed mental health problems just weeks after passing his basic training and saw his long-held dream of a military career slip away from him. Now with the support of his SSAFA mentor Darren Mayne, and his dog Chief, Jack is back on track and planning for the future. 

Jack trained as a Seaman Specialist, he loved basic training and after passing out in February 2016 went on to complete his Phase 2 Seaman Specialist training and was posted to Devonport. He said: “Unfortunately, within a couple of weeks of being on ship, my mental health really deteriorated. It was a bit out of the blue and I think I thought it was just normal at the time. Things went badly wrong the first night out with the crew drinking after work. I got arrested and woke up in a cell.” Jack was treated at a psychiatric unit, but the episode marked the end of his Navy career and in April 2017 he was medically discharged, “Despite everything that happened in that time I made the most of it and got my learning credits and did a couple of courses.”

During his resettlement process Jack found out about the SSAFA mentoring scheme and has been meeting volunteer mentor, Darren Mayne, regularly since he returned to the North East following his medical discharge. Speaking of his mentor, Jack said;

“Darren is a legend. He has been absolutely brilliant – helping me with writing a CV and interview techniques. If I feel like I can’t leave the house, he understands and will let me rearrange. We meet at a coffee shop and sit outside so my dog Chief can come too. I had left a lot of my old life behind when I signed up, so I had no stability when I came out the Navy. 

“Having Darren as my mentor has been a massive help. Any help I have needed he has always known where to go and he’s been so helpful while I have been applying for jobs. I find it easier to speak to someone separate from the rest of my life and he is just so easy to talk to. He has helped me get used to everyday life again and is a great listener. I could tell Darren anything.”

With Darren’s help Jack has recently found a new role in the security industry. Now, Jack has found himself somewhere to live, passed his driving test and taken in Dalmatian puppy Chief – now an important part of his life. 

If you or someone you know would like to access Mentoring support, please visit or email for more information. 

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