Veterans in Crisis Sunderland officially opens new emergency centre to help former servicemen and women in need

A new emergency centre to care for veterans in need has been officially unveiled by a support group on Remembrance Day.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 8:38 am

Mayor of Sunderland Councillor David Snowdon cut a ribbon to officially open the Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (VICS) building in Roker Avenue, Sunderland, on November 11.

VICS ambassador and Sunderland football legend Kevin Ball was among dozens of supporters also at the ceremony.

The Emergency Rendezous (ERV) centre, named after locations where armed forces will meet if they are separated during military action, includes temporary accommodation for former servicemen and women if they have been referred by organisations such as the police or health services.

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The official opening of Veterans in Crisis Sunderland's new ERV building with, from left, founder Ger Fowler, Mayoress Diane Snowdon, Mayor David Snowdon and ambassador Kevin Ball.

It also hosts arts classes and therapy sessions with veterans encouraged just to pop in for a chat and a cuppa on weekdays between 9am-5pm.

Coun Snowdon and the Mayoress, Coun Dianne Snowdon, were given a tour of the four-storey building by VICS founder Ger Fowler.

Speaking afterwards, the Mayor said: “I think this is a fantastic facility. Our servicemen and women see and experience some horrible things and it is great to have somewhere like this where they can get some support after they leave.”

VICS is one of the Mayor’s chosen charities for the year and the cause is also close to the Snowdons’ hearts as son Barry Maskell, 25, serves with the Royal Marines.

Katie Fowler unveiling a plaque at the new ERV centre.

Mr Ball, who is also an ambassador for the club he captained, said: “To be honest, if I did not become a footballer then I would probably have gone into the armed forces. So I will try to support them in whatever way I can as an ambassador and I am sure as a football club we will do the same.”

VICS, a community interest company, was founded in its current guise last year and has since helped 187 veterans with a range of issues ranging from housing to addiction problems.

It has been supported in opening the new premises by the Springboard Sunderland Trust and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG

Mr Fowler, 49, from Southwick, who served with the 1st Light Infantry in Northern Ireland during the bloody Troubles, said: “The support of the people of Sunderland has been amazing and I would just like to thank everyone who has helped us since we started.”

Inside the new Veterans In Crisis Sunderland help centre

To support VICS or to find more out about its work, contact (0191) 5671878 or (07398) 916590.