Outside The Wire Blog Posts
Outside the Wire – 10th Anniversary
Due to being extremely busy, the 10th anniversary of OTW has crept under the radar so I thought I would compose a few words to celebrate our project.
OTW was established in June 2013, when the need for a veteran led support service was identified that could support with issues surrounding substance misuse. As with any new project, from what I can gather, it was initially a bit of a slow burner, supporting a small caseload of veterans located in Norfolk, and staffed by only a few practitioners. However, as additional funding was secured and the word spread across the veteran community, referrals started to increase, and the project was also able to establish itself in Suffolk and Essex.
I joined OTW in 2017, along with Kirsty, the newly appointed AO practitioner. At this point the work in Essex had come to an end, and a couple of staff members left to join another military charity, so things were not looking great for the project! The future of OTW looked in an even worse state with the manager at the time being made redundant when the adult substance misuse service contract was won by CGL.
Abiding by the motto of “Keep calm & carry on”, OTW survived this period of uncertainty and with the support of excellent work by Ryan, long term funding was secured. We also recruited excellent staff with a shared passion for looking after our ‘Brother and Sisterhood’ of current and ex armed forces personnel.
Since those dark days, OTW has become a highly creditable and trusted service, held in high regard by the NHS and other professional health and social care organisations. It is a huge achievement that our project has been consistently funded by the Royal British Legion and the Armed Forces Covenant, and through generous donations from the communities in which we serve. We are extremely fortunate to have The Lord, General, Sir Richard Dannatt as our patron and he has been invaluable supporting our cause in many ways. OTW now supports not only veterans, but also serving military personnel, their families and ex armed forces personnel serving custodial sentences in various prisons. We have expanded into four counties across East Anglia and have established 10 veterans peer support groups which are run in collaboration with service users.
Over the years, we have supported thousands of clients the quality of which is second to none. This is evidenced by the fabulous feedback we receive on a near daily basis. Our clients present with a variety of support needs, so we are flexible in our delivery and undergo specialist training to ensure that we can fully meet those needs. The success of OTW is down to the dedication and passion of the team who constantly go the extra mile for their clients, and for this they have my sincere admiration and gratitude. A big thank you also goes to our colleagues across TMP and to the Board of Trustees for the support we receive from them.
What does the future hold for OTW? I believe that geographically, we are large enough, so my future intentions are to strengthen our presence in the four counties we already serve by submitting an ambitious plan to our funders to increase our staff numbers, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Here’s to another 10 years!! (And more grey hairs!)
Wayne Copsey (RAF Regt Retd)
Service Manager/Recovery Practitioner
The Matthew Project: Outside the Wire
70-80 Oak Street, Norwich NR3 3AQ
(t) 01603 626123 – Head Office