A Webinar by the Jo Cox Foundation and the Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion and the Jo Cox Foundation share a vision of bringing communities together to create a sense of belonging. Our first joint webinar, ‘Facing Loneliness Together’, which is part of the Great Get Together #LonelinessLooksLike initiative, explores the subject of loneliness and social isolation in the Armed Forces community, and sheds a light on lived experiences of these issues.
Joined by the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Johnny Mercer, this webinar opened up important discussions about what can and needs to be done to support the Armed Forces community. The Royal British Legion shares details of the initiatives and plans focused on addressing these issues, and share our joint commitment to tackling loneliness and social isolation for all.
Featured on this webinar’s panel are three incredible veterans with varied experiences within the Armed Forces and of loneliness:
Colin (RBL Ambassador)
- Colin Hughes is a 73 year old army veteran & RBL ambassador who lives on his own in Southport. He served 9 years with the First Battalion Queens Own Highlanders, two years with the 4th Battalion, Parachute Regiment, an Army Reserve unit, and a further five years as a training corporal. Colin left the military and retrained as a social worker, a job he did for 26 years. Colin suffers issues to his hearing due to his military service. On our webinar, he shares his experiences of social isolation due to his hearing, as well as issues of loneliness and isolation he has witnessed in his community.
Jacqui (Fighting with Pride)
- Jacqui, who is supported by charity Fighting with Pride, was discharged from the Navy at 21 for being gay, given no counselling or advice, and was forced to come out to her family. She lost her family, her home, her friends, her mental health, and the only career she’s ever wanted. At almost 50, she has never found another career she could settle in, and has experienced PTSD from her discharge from the Navy throughout her life.
Heather (Forces Wives Challenge)
- Heather Sharp is the founder of the Forces Wives Challenge, a social enterprise that seeks to unite women with partners in the Armed Forces through adventure and challenge. Heather served 10 years in the Regular Army before leaving due to the pressures of bringing up a young family with both parents serving. On leaving, she found military life on the other side of the fence much tougher. She set up Forces Wives Challenge to give back to a community that sacrificed so much in support of the Armed Forces, so that they too can experience that same sense of belonging, teamwork and camaraderie that their partners enjoy in the military.
A key point that was raised by the webinar was the need to continue destigmatising loneliness – that it’s okay to need and ask for help. We are dedicated to driving this conversation and continuing our partnership with the Royal British Legion, facing issues of loneliness and social isolation in the community through connection.