Urgent Fundraising Appeal - Outside The Wire Veteran Project
OUR ABILITY TO SUPPORT VETERANS ACROSS EAST ANGLIA IS UNDER PRESSURE, WE NEED YOUR HELP
On 28th February, we mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the first Gulf War. Some veterans who returned from the conflict bear long term scars - not just physical but also psychological ones.
Our Outside The Wire service offers confidential advice and support for PTSD and/or substance misuse issues to ex-HM Forces personnel alongside their families, across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
PTSD and drug/alcohol misuse issues have been exacerbated by coronavirus and the associated lockdown, which has increased isolation and reduced social contact. Lack of structure and relationship issues have added to these problems, and resulted in worsening mental health and increased alcohol use. This is a very vulnerable group, and suicide risk and health problems are a reality.
At the same time, there has been a reduction in support available – for example, Combat Stress has significantly cut down its support in our region, and many other local services, Outside the Wire included, are struggling to keep up with demand having seen a 12% increase in referrals. At a time when our support is more vital than ever, Outside the Wire is facing funding difficulties, brought on by Covid-19, and may need to wind down some services, having already lost one member of staff.
We are currently working with over 100 veterans and family members across Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, primarily through remote support (video calls, phone calls, and messaging), but also carrying out face-to-face welfare checks for particularly vulnerable individuals. We are also delivering care packages across the region. With your help, we can continue providing vital one-to-one support during this crucial time, helping our armed forces beneficiaries when they need it most.
If you are able to support our cause by making a donation, please click here. It will take you to our Total Giving donations account where you can note OTW Appeal 2021 as your cause.
In the national news...
Veterans in lockdown: ‘I became an addict and homeless – we need mental health support more than ever’
During the beginning of lockdown last March, former Royal Engineer David Maxwell ‘hit rock bottom’ when he was arrested and lost his business and home. Read the full story here
Ex-Corporal David Maxwell self-medicated with alcohol and drugs (Photo: David Maxwell)
Above is a blog from former service user and Army veteran, David Fincham. Do please listen to his incredible journey of recovery. He has gone from drinking five bottles of wine a day and sleeping in a church doorway to becoming a popular and successful Norfolk photographer.
Dave's story is one of success, but not all are. It is estimated that between 3,500 and 6,000 former veterans are currently living homeless in the UK and the suicide rate among former military personnel has doubled in the last decade.
including gift aid
Understanding the issues
On leaving the military there is minimal support available for former servicemen and women to deal with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression related to their military service. They may also find themselves exposed to problems they had experienced before service.
Someone with PTSD often relives a traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find
concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person's day-to-day life. Without specialist support, it is not uncommon for a sufferer of PTSD to 'self-medicate' to alleviate the symptoms they are experiencing which can in turn lead to addiction, dangerous behaviour, relationship issues, debt and worsening mental and physical health. Suicide and death from substance misuse issues are too common a reality.
When ex-military personnel receive support from Outside The Wire, they find it refreshing to talk openly and frankly with someone who 'speaks the same language' and understands their background.
Meet the team
Service Manager/Recovery Practitioner
Wayne served 23 years in the RAF Regiment, and in that time was deployed on operational duties in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, the Middle East and Kosovo. After leaving the RAF Regiment, Wayne worked in various roles including as a Prison Officer and a prison healthcare professional working with prisoners with mental health and substance misuse difficulties.
Senior Recovery Practitioner Norfolk
Justin is a Senior Recovery Practitioner for Outside The Wire and has been a member of the team for three years. He signed up for military service with the RAF at just seventeen and served for three decades. He was deployed on numerous military operations in support of the various Middle East conflicts. In that time he witnessed colleagues and their families experiencing difficulties, so he volunteered with the SSAFA.
Senior Practitioner Essex
John joined the army as a infantry soldier in 1979 and served until 2001. He joined the Outside The Wire team in September 2020 having worked previously as a military advocate for veterans and their families. Through his own personal experiences of dealing with a number of veterans charity's as a disabled veteran himself, he has gained an insight into the support on offer to ex servicemen and women.
Senior Recovery Practitioner Suffolk Mark has been a member of the OTW team for three years. Mark joined a combat unit in the British Army aged nineteen and served for twenty three years serving in various conflicts throughout his career. Mark finished his time in the Army as the Unit Welfare Officer and saw just how many personnel and their families were experiencing issues in their lives. Mark went on to work in the adult homeless sector before joining the OTW team.
Recovery Practitioner Prisons
Karen is responsible for veterans in prisons in Norfolk and Suffolk. Karen served for 38 years in the Army, the majority with the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police. Karen supports the view that some veterans experience significant difficulty in their transition from military life to mainstream society and that this coupled with undiagnosed mental health problems means an increased likelihood of them drifting into criminality and substance abuse. Karen is focussed on group and individual support and working with other veteran welfare agencies to reduce the likelihood of veterans reoffending on their release.
Affected Others Practitioner
Kirsty has been a member of the Outside The Wire team since 2017. Kirsty was born in Aldershot into a military family and spent her childhood in many locations within the UK and Germany so has an understanding of the diverse difficulty’s families face. Before outside the wire she volunteered with the Red Cross and worked with individuals with mental health disabilities and addictions within a residential setting.
As you can see from the testimonials above, the OTW team are having a life altering impact on those that they work with. However they lost funding from a major donor at the beginning of the Covid crisis which resulted in a redundancy. It is therefore crucial that they secure funds through this appeal to continue their vital work. It is expected that damage to mental health caused by the Covid crisis could last for years and Outside The Wire will see an increased demand for support.