Sefton Veterans Project Unveils Development Plans

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.”

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Sefton Veterans Project helps Seaforth hero receive his father’s lost medals

A WAR hero from Seaforth has been formally presented with the medals of his father who served in the First World War.

Henry Edward Whetnall, 89, was joined by other veterans at the Bowersdale Centre where they were given medals in a touching ceremony attended by the Mayor of Sefton and MP Peter Dowd.

Henry, who served for his country during the 1939-45 period in a bomb disposal team in Palestine, has social media to thank for helping to reunite him with his father’s medals.

The Champion reported in February 2015 how the ex-serviceman was given his own medals which he had lost after getting help from Sefton Veteran’s Project.

The group then shared the story on social media and Henry’s distant cousin, Rita, who lives in America, spotted it while researching her own family tree and decided to get in touch.

She helped Henry locate his father’s medals and a presentation was held on Wednesday, March 2.

David Smith of Expect Ltd and Project Manager of the Sefton Veterans Project, said: “It was an incredible story last year. When Henry told us about his missing medals, we worked hard to track them down from the Ministry of Defence, and it was a very moving presentation.

“As soon as Rita got in touch, we knew we had to present Henry with his father’s original medals to give the honour and respect both men deserved.”

Sefton Veterans Project is delivered by the charity Expect Ltd, a charity providing services to people living with learning disability and mental health problems.

The project’s primary focus is the mental wellbeing of ex-service personnel and their families, and part of its work is to track down and reunite veterans with their missing medals.

Two other local veterans, Tess Cameron and Colin Johnson, joined Henry last week as they also received lost medals.

Tess, who served in the Royal Navy from 1943-46, was reunited with her Second World War General Service Medal and Colin, who served in the Royal Green Jackets, received the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, awarded after 18 years of service.

David added: “Reuniting veterans with lost medals is just one aspect of our work.

“We believe it’s incredibly important to formally acknowledge these military honours.

“It’s bringing back pride, recognising those who risked their lives, and not forgetting theirs and their fallen comrades’ sacrifices.”

The medals were presented by Commodore Gary Doyle, a senior Royal Navy officer and the new regional commander for Northern England and the Isle of Man.

NHS South Sefton CCG: Sefton veterans inspire local NHS staff

A doctor’s surgery in Bootle has donated funds to the Sefton Veterans Project following a memorable talk from the leader of the project and ex-military himself, David Smith.

It follows a training session, organised by NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) late last year to raise awareness of the Sefton wide project and the work it does to support military veterans.

Practice staff heard how David faced issues in adjusting to life outside the forces after 25 years of service and how he now works for the charity, Expect Ltd. Following discussions, the charity decided to start up the Sefton Veterans Project with the primary focus being the mental health issues ex service personnel frequently suffer on discharge from the armed forces.

The staff at Moore Street Surgery were so touched by the talk that they decided to donate £100 collected from a dress down day to the project.

Practice Manager at Moore Street Surgery, Helen Shillcock said: “Dave and the other veterans talk was so inspiring, it really made us think about how referrals to the project can seriously help veterans by giving them the support that they need.

“When you hear about how Dave and some of the other veterans have turned their lives around and are now helping others like them it is so motivating. We held a dress down day a while back and raised £100, we knew all along that the Sefton Veterans Project was where we wanted to donate the money to and they truly deserve it for all their hard work.”

The Sefton Veterans Project is managed by Expect Ltd, a charity providing services for people living with a learning disability or enduring mental health problems, and is an initiative between Sefton Council, Sefton CVS and the two CCGs in Sefton who have helped to develop the veterans strategy for Sefton.

Together, they have established a one stop facility in Expects Bowersdale Resource Centre, Seaforth for ex-service personnel and their families to provide help and advice with mental wellbeing housing, employment, dependency and financial issues. They also provide mentor support when referring to specialist mental health experts who fully understand a veteran’s needs and issues such as combat stress.

Dave Smith from the Sefton Veterans Project said: “We were overwhelmed when the surgery told us they’d like us to have the money. It is great to know that the talks that we do are so effective when really it’s just informing the public of what services we offer as a project and what experience we have been through to warrant such a service.

“The money will be put towards a retreat that we are taking some of our veterans on in Scotland in May and we are extremely grateful to the practice for choosing us. It is so important that people know about our service and that military veterans are referred to us so that we can help. It is so nice to give something back to those who have been through similar experiences.

”A huge thank you goes to Angela Curran, Locality Development Support at the CCG for organising the talk which has led to more referrals to the Sefton Veteran Project.”

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The NHS currently provides 12 mental health services across England specifically for veterans. They enable specialist staff to care for ex-forces personnel with mental health needs, direct them to the most appropriate service and give them effective treatment.

To help improve future care across the country NHS England are asking armed forces veterans to share their experience of mental health services.

The launch of their national survey will help improve the care available for veterans as they move from military to civilian life.

The survey is a chance for veterans to share their experiences and views of existing mental health services and to understand the reasons why some people have not sought or received support and treatment. You can complete the questionnaire here.