POPPYSCOTLAND has opened a new welfare centre in Inverness, the first outwith the central belt.
The official ceremony was carried out by Carolyn Caddick, Highland Council’s Armed Forces and Veterans’ Champion.
Councillor Caddick was joined by Poppyscotland Chief Executive Ian McGregor to mark the event at the new shop on Strothers Lane.
She said: “The North of Scotland has a strong and proud military tradition and community.
“I am delighted to welcome Poppyscotland Inverness to the area and after seeing the results of the first few months of its operation I firmly believe that it will complement and enhance the good work already being undertaken.”
Poppyscotland Inverness, with a full-time staff of three, opened its doors to the public in June and is already making a positive impact.
So far the team has assisted 27 individuals, helping with a wide range of issues including finances, employment, health and housing.
Partnerships have been developed with local organisations, including SSAFA (Inverness and Western Isles Branch), Royal British Legion Scotland, JobCentre Plus and the Army Welfare Unit at Fort George.
Poppyscotland already has strong links in the area through its successful Armed Service Advice Project in Inverness, Moray & Nairn, delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland.
Chief Executive Ian McGregor said: “Since our merger in 2011 with our parent charity The Royal British Legion, which operates south of the Border, we have been examining ways in which we can improve the levels of support available to the Armed Forces community in Scotland both now and in the future.
“Extensive research and planning has led us to develop the model of Poppyscotland Inverness, a flagship project. Veterans can face a wide range of challenges after leaving the stability and structure of the military and, in order to help tackle their problems effectively, we need to be visible and accessible, delivering tailored support that is right for them and working with them to improve their wellbeing.
“We believe Poppyscotland Inverness will go a long way to improving the lives of those in the Armed Forces community in the North of Scotland now and in the future.”
MP Danny Alexander added: “I’m delighted to see this much needed facility to provide support for our ex-Service men and women in the Highlands.
“Those who have served their country, often in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances, deserve as much support as we can offer and this Poppyscotland facility will help fill what has been an enormous gap.
“Since it opened its doors in June Poppyscotland Inverness has already done terrific work to help people with their finances, employment, health and housing and will be of benefit not only to the people they help, but also their families and friends.”