Throughout United Kingdom there is a steadily increasing number of Drop-In centres where any member of the Armed Forces community, including the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet and their families, may go for help and advice, or simply to relax over a cuppa with likeminded comrades. All Drop-Ins extend a warm welcome with refreshments, some offer general welfare support such as financial and employment advice, some have activities to promote wellbeing and some provide access to mental health support. This takes place routinely under one roof, at the same time and in an informal environment. The Association of ex-Service Drop-In Centres (ASDIC) aims to link all these Drop-Ins together so that they can offer each other mutual support and make them more accessible to those seeking help – the Service Users.
Drop-Ins vary hugely in their modus operandi and no two operate in exactly the same way: some are very small, some more like a one-stop-shop, but all serve the same overall purpose of helping the ex-military community in need. ASDIC Drop-Ins are open at least once a month and will be supported by representatives of at least two established organisations (known as Delivery Partners), such as SSAFA, the Royal British Legion or other recognised Service charities, and depending on their size and locality they will work alongside a selection of health and welfare organisations such as the NHS, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Legal, Financial or local council services,. There are over 120 Drop-Ins operating in UK at present and the number joining ASDIC is steadily increasing.
The principal objective of ASDIC is to help Drop-Ins work together and support each other, so that they can improve what they offer and become more accessible to Service Users. A secondary objective is to make it easier for state, charity and third sector organisations to support Drop-Ins, thereby helping them to work together more effectively and make the most of their resources. Key benefits of ASDIC include joining the a Directory of Drop-Ins and Delivery Partners, recognition as an accredited ASDIC member, access to the Veterans & Families Directory of Services (VFDS), guidance and advice, and an invitation to the annual Conference.
ASDIC Drop-Ins aim to complement hubs like the Royal British Legion Pop-Ins and Help for Heroes Recovery Centres, extending their reach and making their services more available, especially to those with restricted ability to travel. While each Drop-In can retain its individual identity as it was set up in originally, ASDIC gives them benefit of other people’s experience across a wide network of support and when necessary enables them to refer Service Users to more convenient or appropriate alternatives.
ASDIC is endorsed by the Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo) from which it gets its authority. Established as a Cobseo Action Group within the Welfare, Health and Wellbeing Arena in 2017, it is supported by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust as part of the Strengthening Local Government Delivery of the Covenant programme and became a Charity in 2020.
ASDIC is an Information Organisation Partner of Veterans Gateway. Details of ASDIC Drop-Ins are passed to Veterans Gateway and can be found on their website under National Charities/Organisations. This is used by the Veterans Gateway helpdesk for signposting and by Service Users themselves when searching for help online.