Veterans Support

Shared Parenting Scotland fully recognises the unique lifestyle of those that serve or have served in our Armed Forces and the toll this can take on family life especially when children are involved.

This specialised service is supported by the Veterans Foundation and it is being managed by one of the Shared Parenting Scotland staff, Mark Downie. We’re very grateful to the Veterans Foundation – this support will allow us to build up the work we have already been doing with veterans and serving parents who need help after separation.

Mark came to work with us in 2020 after having served in the Royal Marines from 1987 to 1997 and then in the police force for 24 years.

Mark turned to Shared Parenting Scotland for support in 2008 and was made very welcome and was given invaluable insight, moral support and practical assistance over many years.

In 2017 Mark was made a Trustee and then finally a staff member of the charity, where he works on the helpline assisting members of the public in dealing with a wide range of parenting, family, and court issues.

For more details on Mark’s background and work click here.

Shared Parenting Scotland is already supporting veterans who have been referred to us by some of the organisations listed below.

Mark has worked to establish strong relationships between Shared Parenting Scotland and Veteran’s organisations such as, amongst others, the below:

Forces Children Scotland

Veterans First Point Lothian

SACRO Veterans Mentoring Service

Lothians Veterans Centre

The Royal Marines Charity

The Royal Marines Club

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We refer Veteran families to Shared Parenting Scotland, as they not only offer specialist advice but can also specifically support Veteran families with family challenges such as family breakdowns, separation and of course, shared parenting. Through our mental health and wellbeing service, Mindful Connections, we have referred families to Shared Parenting Scotland who are experiencing challenging family circumstances in order to receive more specialist advice and support, especially in regard to peer support from other families. Additionally, where there are areas of training that the family could benefit from such as communication or parenting after separation, we would recommend Shared Parenting Scotland for that support.

Hannah Johnstone, Children and Family Services Manager, Forces Children Scotland:

Sean Hennessy, Veterans Support Worker, Veteran’s 1st Point Lothian

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Shared Parenting Scotland has become a vital asset to the veterans we support here at Veterans First Point Lothian. Far too often have we received calls from parents in distress about their family situation. For a while now it has been an area where we felt we didn’t have the knowledge/experience to support or have an appropriate service to refer to. I have personally referred many veterans to Mark at Shared Parenting Scotland and his help and support has been vital to our veterans. Mark is quick to contact veterans after our referrals and we have had nothing but positive feedback from those we have referred. I hope your service continues the outstanding work you have begun with and funding is secured to meet the growing demand for your service.

Shared Parenting Scotland is a member of the Armed Forces Covenant

mark's postings

In this section you will find excerpts of Mark's updates on events that he's attended specifically relating to military veterans - you can find the full version of each report on our website.

1ST JUNE 2023

HMS Prince of Wales Tour

It was with great pleasure my wife and I along with other members of the Royal Marines Association Edinburgh Branch accepted the generous offer of a visit/tour of HMS Prince of Wales whilst in dry dock at Rosyth.

The Secretary of the RMA Edinburgh, Matt Jones, sums up the day’s events eloquently in the following blog which he kindly gave me permission to ‘prof’...

18TH MAY 2023

Corporates at the Castle

On Thursday 18th May 2023, at the invitation of Wing Commander Allan Steele WS RAF (Retd) of SSAFA and the Scottish National War Memorial, I attended a Corporates at the Castle event within the Officers Mess at Edinburgh Castle. This event was superbly hosted by Major General Alastair Bruce OBE VR DL the Governor of Edinburgh Castle and other notable guests included the Lord Provost of Edinburgh Robert Aldridge and Dundee Football Club Managing Director John Nelms.

13 May 2023

Army v Navy – Twickenham Stadium

On Saturday 13th May 2023, along with my fellow Army veterans, I attended Twickenham for the Annual, and as always keenly contested, Army V Navy Babcock Trophy rugby match.

All around and inside the stadium the relaxed atmosphere, fancy dress, and enjoyment was plain to see, especially when meeting old oppos not seen in many years. In typical military style, in seconds it was as though we had never been apart and in our mind’s eye, we were all back being 18/19 year old squaddies again!

2nd april 2023

Royal Marine Thomas Peck Hunter VC – 78th Anniversary Service – Edinburgh

On Sunday 2nd April 2023, on the invitation of the Royal Marines Association – Edinburgh branch, along with my family, I attended the 78th Anniversary parade and subsequent reception of Royal Marine VC recipient Thomas Peck Hunter at his memorial at Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh.

This was a poignant and thought-provoking event which was very well attended by the RMA veterans from across Scotland and supported by both the Edinburgh Leith and Trinity branches of the Sea Cadets.

case studies

We received a referral from Veteran’s First Point Lothian in September 2022.

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Thomas (not his name) is an army veteran having served in the Royal Corp of Transport from 1979-1985. He has a daughter who is now 4 years old but has separated from the mother. He is on his daughter’s birth certificate as Father.

Thomas’ daughter has been removed from his ex-partner by the Social Services and placed in Foster Care and at present his ex-partner gets to see their daughter 3 times a week for 2hrs at a time in a supervised environment organised by Social Work. Currently Thomas only gets to see his daughter once every 4 weeks for a 2 hour period.

Our helpline worker obtained a mandate to obtain information from the social work department and attended a “My Meeting” at the Social Work Department with him on 2nd November. That meeting didn’t agree any immediate increase in either parent’s contact, due to the lack of stability in the child’s life at present.

Our advocacy and attendance at the meeting enabled Thomas to focus on the positives he can offer his daughter rather than just complaining, and we will continue to help him to show that his contact is of benefit to his child.

Shared Parenting Scotland are here to fully support our serving or veteran military parents when families separate and can offer a range of help including;

  • Free Help, Support & Advice from our Helpline

  • 24 hr Whatsapp peer support groups

Find out more about the support Shared Parenting Scotland provides here.

Veterans Support