A new one stop shop for Sefton’s military veterans has opened its doors offering advice and assistance on a range of issues including health, housing and employment.
Sefton Veterans Project brings together a range of specialist organisations to provide personalised support under one roof at the Bowersdale Resource Centre in Seaforth. The project is funded by NHS South Sefton CCG, NHS Southport and Formby CCG and the Charity Expect Ltd, and run in partnership with Sefton CVS and Sefton Council.
The service has already begun to help local veterans to find work and new homes, as well as supporting them to access mental health, drug and alcohol services.
One service user, John, a former member of the Parachute Regiment, said: “Just over a year ago I was really down on my luck – I had no job, I was angry at myself, and I was struggling to support my girlfriend and kids. A couple of guys I know told me about the Sefton Veterans Project. Because it is run by an ex squaddie I went to see them. I knew they would understand and I knew I could talk to them without being embarrassed or feeling like l was a loser or a waster. It was great talking to vets again. The Project Manager, Dave Smith, managed to find some funding and training for me. I now have a full time job and I can now hold my head up again and support my family.”
This free and confidential service is open to all military veterans and former reservists no matter what their age, or how long they have served in the armed forces – even if it was just for one day. The service also provides support to families in the armed forces community, as well as current serving personnel.
Ex Royal Engineer Tom, a 93 year old veteran of World War 2, contacted the Sefton Veterans Project to help him track down a medal he was awarded for his part in the Normandy Landings.
Tom said: “When I visited them they were marvellous. Dave helped me fill out the form straight away and I had the chance to chat with a handful of younger ex-military. Young or old we don’t change much, we all like telling our secret stories. I pop in a couple of times a month to catch up. I like to take them a Swiss Roll, have a chat and a cup of tea. Dave has helped me a couple of times to get into my house when I’ve mislaid my keys. I feel whole again now I have my lost medal back.”
Veterans using the service are assigned a dedicated case manager, who acts as a single point of contact for all their needs. The official launch was an opportunity for military veterans to hear more about the wide range of services involved – including Sefton Council, SSAFA Forces Help, Resettlement Property Services, Lifeline substance misuse service and Job Centre Plus.
The launch was also a chance for partner organisations to reaffirm the commitment they made when they signed the Sefton Covenant. This pledge sets out the obligations of statutory organisations towards local veterans.
Fiona Clark, Chief Officer of both CCGs, said: “We know that ex-forces personnel do not always find it easy to access help when they need it, so it is our hope that this innovative project will help to improve the quality of life for people who have made a personal sacrifice to keep us safe.”
Sefton Veterans Project is based at Expect Ltd’s Bowersdale Resource Centre, Crescent Road, Seaforth. For more information either drop-in between 9am and 5pm on Wednesdays or call between Monday and Friday.