Battling On – A small West Country Veterans project punching above its weight

Battling On – A small West Country Veterans project punching above its weight

Off By Civvy Street

Nikki Markham MBE, Battling On’s founding director explains how the organisation was born from the strangest of beginnings. 

Battling On is a multiple award-winning community interest company that supports Veterans.

“In 2011 I was running a vocational training centre called Transferable Skills Training (TST). At the time we were providing training for  Construction Skills Certification scheme (CSCS) tickets to allow unemployed adults an opportunity to gain employment in the construction sector. We saw a surge, predominantly in men, being referred for training who had complex mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, self-harming, substance abuse and homelessness. We uncovered that all these individuals had recently left the Armed Forces after Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. We realised very quickly that without specialist support and intervention many of these people’s situations would deteriorate and possibly end in tragedy.”

Nikki explains her frustration at the lack of services at this time, saying: “I tried to get counselling and psychiatric help but at the time there was a nine-month waiting list for counsellors and a 14-month wait for a psychiatrist. These men simply could not wait that long. It was at this point we decided to take the situation into our own hands and with the help of both Cornwall and Devon Community Foundations we established Battling On, and accessed funding via grants to provide the wraparound care and support the Veterans needed.”

A decade later and Battling On has gone from strength to strength, not only helping Veterans but training and employing them in a unique model that has won multiple awards.

Nikki explains: “Working with the Veterans we very quickly realised they had a wealth of skills and experiences that could be usefully utilised. This coupled with their sense of duty meant they were the ideal candidates to train to work with some of the hardest to reach and most disengaged young people we were trying to support at TST. I initially trained eight to become mentors and the impact they had on the young people was startling. We saw an immediate reduction in criminal activity, improved attendance but more importantly, the Veterans taught them self-discipline and self-worth.”

Battling On now works alongside TST with Veterans being employed as mentors, additional learning support and instructors with the project expanding to young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and mental health issues, adults with life limiting illnesses and the elderly.

Together, Battling On and TST are changing the way the most vulnerable within our communities are being supported and have been recognised nationally for their innovative approaches to solving complex social problems.

Contact Battling On:
Tel: 01579 384798