Twelve staff lose jobs as Combat Stress closes its welfare service

Two of the staff at risk have been appointed to new roles in the charity

The military charity Combat Stress made 12 staff redundant last month when it closed its welfare service, the charity has confirmed.

The charity’s welfare service closed on 31 January, after an announcement last year that the service would close with 16 jobs at risk, including two vacant positions.

The charity told Third Sector this week that two of the staff at risk, who were welfare officers, had been appointed to new roles in the charity’s peer support network, which is currently under development.

The remaining 12 at-risk staff were made redundant when the welfare service closed, the charity said.

Combat Stress, which employs 316 people according to its entry on the Charity Commission’s online register, decided to close its welfare service after an internal consultation was completed in August 2016.

It said this was because of a 71 per cent increase in demand on the charity’s welfare services over the previous five years, and because its welfare services were replicated in other charities, such as the Royal British Legion.

The charity said it would focus on its mental health services instead, which it said were not replicated in other charities.

But the decision has led to criticism, with one service user, who asked not to be named, telling Third Sector last year that psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists working with the charity would experience increased workloads as a result of the closures, a claim the charity denied.

Sue Freeth, chief executive of Combat Stress, said: "Following a comprehensive review of our services and a detailed consultation, Combat Stress took the decision to focus on meeting the growing demand for our unique clinical mental health treatments, both residentially and in the community, and stop providing general welfare support. The welfare service closed on 31 January 2017. Our regional welfare officers delivered an excellent service to thousands of veterans, and we are extremely grateful to them for their dedicated work. 

"We are currently referring veterans who need welfare support to other organisations, including SSAFA, the Royal British Legion and Veterans UK. We are also ensuring that each veteran who has used our welfare service has a plan in place for onward support when they need it."

According to the Charity Commission website , Combat Stress had an income of more than £13m and expenditure of almost £16.6m in the year to 31 March 2016.

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