Services for the Armed Forces community are set to be transformed thanks to a major campaign victory for Poppyscotland.
Proposals by the charity passed the final legislative hurdle yesterday meaning a “veterans’ question” will be added to the 2021 Census.
As a result, Poppyscotland, along with other charities and statutory bodies, will soon have a much more accurate picture of the size, location and profile of the Armed Forces community in Scotland.
Since 2015, Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion have been calling for the introduction of a question that would identify members of the Armed Forces community through their ‘Count Them In’ campaign.
The National Records of Scotland, the body that takes the Census of Scotland’s population every ten years, received more than 113 submissions to their Census consultation, but only five new individual questions will be included.
Mark Bibbey, Poppyscotland Chief Executive, said: “As a nation, we promise to provide lifelong care and support for those who serve our country. By including a veterans’ question in the Census, public bodies and charities will be much better placed to provide the services that are needed, where they are needed to members of our Armed Forces community.
“Poppyscotland, together with The Royal British Legion, published the Household Survey in 2014. Although it was the largest of its kind ever undertaken, this was produced from a representative sample. Being able to base future decisions on the much larger data set produced by the Census will vastly enhance our understanding, our ability to predict future needs and enable us to direct our charitable resources where they will have the greatest impact.
“We will analyse and interrogate the data from the veterans’ question, alongside wider data arising from the Census to shape our future welfare provision. We want to understand more about the issues affecting the Armed Forces community, especially when this differs from the rest of the population.
Data from the Census will also enable us to undertake a mapping exercise so we can accurately plot where the Armed Forces community is clustered. In doing so, we will then be able to direct our resources in an even more effective and efficient way in the future.”
Plans for the 2021 Census, including the addition of the veterans’ question, were passed by the Scottish Parliament and received Royal Assent at the Privy Council in March 2020. The regulations underpinning the legislation came into force yesterday.
Mr Bibbey continued: “We would like to thank the scores of politicians from across the spectrum at Holyrood and Westminster, several local authorities and our volunteers and supporters who came together to support our Count Them In campaign. I am also extremely grateful to National Records of Scotland for their engaging approach, working closely with us throughout the process from devising potential questions through to testing and considering the outputs. Poppyscotland continues to support The Royal British Legion as they campaign for a similar outcome in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
Poppyscotland provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community. Money raised from the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal and the charity’s year-round fundraising enables them to deliver support to members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland by providing tailored funding and assistance. Poppyscotland also funds services in advice, employment, housing, mental health, mobility and respite.