A network that helps all heroes

Pictured at the luanch of a new support network for the Armed Forces at the Royal Artillery Club, Mary Strteet, Sunderland, on thursday are l-r Janice Murray, Major John Lighten of Military-Civilian integration, Graham Hall and Gary Cameron of Military Mental Health
Pictured at the luanch of a new support network for the Armed Forces at the Royal Artillery Club, Mary Strteet, Sunderland, on thursday are l-r Janice Murray, Major John Lighten of Military-Civilian integration, Graham Hall and Gary Cameron of Military Mental Health
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WAR veterans are helping to shape a new support service on Wearside.

Sunderland Armed Forces’ Network (SAFN) aims to bring together the dozens of community, help and advice organisations that have been set up across the city in recent years.

Ex-serviceman Graham Hall is helping to spearhead the initiative, which was set up after a report highlighted the plight of many former members of the Army, RAF and Royal Navy and the “disjointed” support system.

“The Network is going from strength to strength and we are getting increased interest from people and organisations who are involved with the care and welfare of our ex and serving service personnel and their families,” said Mr Hall, SAFN chairman.

“The meetings have become a really good conduit to exchange information and signpost people to help.”

Mr Hall is now urging veterans to attend network meetings, which will also be attended by charities and military representatives, to provide input on how to improve their situation.

A recent SAFN meeting at the Royal Artillery Club, in Mary Street, Sunderland, was attended by representative of the British Legion; Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association; Veterans Agency and NHS, as well as multiple military associations and welfare groups.

“We are keen to extend the group and welcome any military association representatives as well as anyone from any organisation that is involved in this type of support,” said Mr Hall.

In recent years, Sunderland has seen the launch of a series of projects to help ex-service personnel hit with drug, drink and mental health problems.

Plans have also been unveiled to build a new centre for those left homeless after leaving the Armed Forces.

“There are a number of organisations who recognise that they need to work with other groups to help our military personnel and veterans and the network is already proving to be useful in gaining information and support for their work,” added Mr Hall.

The SAFN invites military associations to send a representative to the meetings, which are held monthly.

The next will be held at the Royal Artillery Club on July 14, at 5pm.

For more information, email Sunderlandafn@o2.co.uk

@SunEchoJohnston