A Sefton project that supports military veterans, serving personnel and their families has unveiled plans to develop the scope of its operations.
Sefton Veterans Project has also changed its name to Veterans in Sefton as part of a drive to broaden its funding base and establish itself as an independent organisation.
Veterans in Sefton was set up in 2014, one of more than 50 local groups to receive funding from South Sefton and Southport & Formby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in recent years.
Until recently, it was based at the Bowersdale Resource Centre in Sefton, where its services and activities were co-ordinated by mental health charity Expect Ltd.
These included a drop-in information and advice service, mentor support and social events.
However, with the blessing of Expect Ltd and the CCGs, the project has been working with voluntary, community and faith sector support organisation Sefton CVS to establish itself as a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).
Amongst other benefits, this will allow the project to apply for funding from a wider range of sources and, over time, to expand its range of support services for former and current military personnel.
As part of this process, staff and volunteers – who are all ex-forces personnel – have moved to new premises at the Brunswick Youth Club on Marsh Lane in Bootle.
And with the help of funding from Sefton Council, the project has also been able to take on former Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Steve Calderbank as its Holistic Care Co-ordinator.
Steve – a trained psychotherapeutic counsellor – will act as a key link between veterans with mental health problems and the mainstream services that can provide the help they need.
According to Veterans in Sefton Project Manager, Dave Smith, this and the project’s other services are much in demand in the borough with current clients aged from 19 to 95.
According to NHS figures, there are an estimated 27,000 veterans under the age of 65 in Sefton, around 13 per cent of whom have complex issues that need to be addressed.
Dave Smith commented: “We are now embarking on a new and exciting phase in the development of our organisation, which provides a much-needed service to some of the brave men and women who have given so generously to this great nation of ours.
“On behalf of our staff and volunteers I would like to thank Expect Ltd, the CCGs, Sefton Council and Sefton CVS for all their advice and ongoing support.
“We are now looking forward to continuing our work supporting local armed forces communities, and to demonstrating how Sefton can take the lead in veteran care in the future.”