'Overwhelmed' Sunderland veterans' group thanks city for support during its first year

A veterans' support group is holding a thank you event to mark one year since it was formed in its current guise.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 2:37 pm
Updated Friday, 18th January 2019, 12:32 am
VICs founder Ger Fowler.

Sunderland-based Veterans in Crisis (VICs) has helped 86 former servicemen and women in the city deal with a range of issues in the last 12 months.

Their problems have ranged from mental health difficulties and homelessness or "sofa surfing" to seeking advice about training and jobs.

VICs founder Ger Fowler.

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VICs, founded by former Light Infantry soldier Ger Fowler, has received support from dozens of organisations and businesses across Sunderland and will thank them at the Stadium of Light on Friday night.

The free event will also see the first screening of a new documentary about the community interest company's work.

Ger, 48, from the Southwick area of the city, said: "I have been overwhelmed by the support we have had from the people of Sunderland and its businesses and services.

"Everyone has been so supportive in whatever way they can, be it time or raising funds for us."

Examples include Sunderland football legend Kevin Ball, who will be attending tomorrow's event, which will be held in Quinn's Sports Bar from 7pm.

Ger founded VICs following his own battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), drink and drugs after leaving the forces in 1991.

He said: "While I appreciate how hard services work to help veterans, sometimes they don't have the time or the experience to understand what a veteran is going through.

"That is where we can help in supporting them as they work their way back into the community."

Ger's efforts have also seen him named in Pathfinder International military magazine’s Most Influential People In The Military Community 2019 list.

Future fundraising events include an evening with former heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno, who has also suffered mental health difficulties, at the Alexandra pub, in Grangetown, on Friday, April 5, from 7.30pm.

Tickets from £29.50 are available from (07585) 000954.

VICs itself can be contacted on (07398) 916590 and holds weekly meetings at the Gunners Club, 10-11 Mary Street, Sunderland city centre, from 10am-1pm on Tuesdays.