Veterans In Action (VIA) is just what it says, a team of ex-servicemen and women whose actions bring hope to others, while at the same time helping them to recover from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), find new purpose, and discover a renewed sense of adventure, to help knit back together lives that have been truly torn apart.
VIA is the brainchild of former Royal Engineer, Billy MacLeod MBE, who suffered from his own mental health issues on leaving the military due to an injury sustained in the course of duty. Having found a way through the condition, Billy, using the skillsets learned in the Royal Engineers and, after studying what was happening with veterans who were suffering around the world, he realised he could do something to help others who had served in HM Armed Forces and who were suffering through the effects of war – or who had found the transition to civilian life difficult.
That was the spark that brought Veterans In Action into being, and for twelve years he and the small team he works with, have created a base from which to operate, a squadron of go-anywhere Land-Rover vehicles and an ever-expanding group of people who build, maintain and operate them, while at the same time benefitting from everything VIA has to offer.
VIA is fuelled by a sense of adventure and, like many small charities, is funded by largely private donations as well as a number of commercial activities that keep things turning over. Recently VIA had been extremely close to securing a major funding partner to ensure their future, but the changes in the economy we are all experiencing meant the late withdrawal of their would-be benefactor and the charity is now looking for a vital injection of funding to ensure that their work will continue throughout 2023 and beyond.
“Veterans In Action is primarily an expeditionary organisation, but we have an inbuilt sense of service to whoever needs it. When Covid-19 struck we used our vehicles to deliver essential supplies to the most vulnerable in Hampshire and, in the last year, we have put our efforts into running relief convoys of much needed aid and supplies to the Ukraine,” explains Billy. “We were a long way down the line with what we thought would be a funding deal to allow us to continue and even expand our operations, so this is a blow – but we are nothing if not resourceful.”
This resourcefulness is evidenced by Billy’s MacLeod’s initial fundraising efforts, which involved him and teams of volunteers walking from John O Groats to Lands End and then around the entire UK coastline, as well as various walks from East to West Coast – incredibly clocking up more than 13,000 miles walked in total.
It’s also evidenced by their base of operations in Andover, Hants – the ALIVE Centre – which was once a few derelict farm outbuildings. These now house VIA’s vehicle workshops, stores units, office and catering facilities as well as a gym, their own clothing business, a kitchen/social area and even studios where they can shoot green-screen photos/videos as well as edit their own films and social media content.
The VIA mantra is “A.L.I.V.E.” which stands for Achieve, Learn, Inspire, Value, Experience. This is a three-step process to help veterans to discover a sense of achievement and aid them to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem and self-belief.
A quick talk with some of the people who work at VIA reveals many incredible stories and some of the dark spaces that serving their country has led them to, which working with Veterans in Action is helping to bring them back from. Billy MacLeod’s seemingly boundless energy has helped keep the organisation going and progress the unique work it carries out.
“We have had some good support from automotive companies, by way of product help, which helps bring down our costs,” continues Billy, “but ultimately like all charities, we need funds.”
VIA is linked to a scheme which allows people to contribute a small amount on a monthly basis – https://veteransinaction.enthuse.com – and is now looking to get 1000 people subscribing to that at £10 per month. It is also seeking further corporate tie-ups.
VIA is also looking for a minimum of 100 businesses who could donate £1000 that would give the charity the security to continue the valuable work they carry out, to help veterans who suffer. Companies can be among the first to sign up to this scheme by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
“The work we do really makes a difference, both to those who are part of our organisation and those who benefit from the help we offer outside of that. Give us a crisis and we will be there – we would love to talk to like-minded companies or individuals…”
For more information about Veterans In Action contact Billy MacLeod: email@example.com by phone on: +44 (0)1264 771658