A pioneering initiative, which aims to offer guidance and support to military veterans and others with post traumatic stress disorder and other psychosocial problems is now available across Wales for the first time. The launch event will take place at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay at 12pm on Wednesday 1 October, 2014. The event will include keynote addresses by Kirsty Williams AM and Change Step patron, Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler.

Change Step, is a peer mentoring and advice service is delivered by veterans for other veterans who wish to make positive changes in their lives. The service aims to support those seeking help for problems encountered as a result of military or operational duty through peer support, training opportunities and signposting to relevant health and welfare services. Examples of psychosocial issues can include homelessness, unemployment, mental health problems and substance misuse issues.

The Change Step peer-mentoring project was initially established in north Wales in 2012 by Llandudno-based drug and alcohol charity CAIS. In recognition of its success the programme has been awarded a grant of £1 million by the UK Governments’ Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR fund to create an all-Wales Change Step service. The national service will be delivered by members of the ‘Drug and Alcohol Charities Wales’ (DACW) consortium.

“This is a ground-breaking day for Change Step and veterans across Wales,” said Clive Wolfendale chief executive of CAIS. “In little over 5 months Change Step has received over 300 referrals from across Wales and as awareness of the project grows we anticipate that these numbers will steadily increase. Veterans accessing the service have given so much for their country, but quite often feel forgotten about and disconnected from society. We need to help and reach out to veterans to assist them to re-integrate into their local community and mainstream services.”

“Offering peer veteran support works really well because of the shared experiences and understanding of what each other has been through. As well as offering peer support, the Change Step team will signpost veterans to other services such as counselling, employment and drug and alcohol services.”

Change Step, which is available to military veterans, former members of the emergency services, trauma survivors and their families, will see its peer mentors work alongside CAIS in north Wales, Kaleidoscope in Powys and Gwent, TEDS in Rhondda Cynon Taf, WCADA in Neath, Port Talbot, Swansea and Bridgend, Cyswllt Contact in West Wales and Drugaid in Methyr Tydfil, Pontypridd and Caerphilly

A complementary service ‘Listen In’ has been established to support families, friends and carers of veterans experiencing difficulties.

You can contact the Change Step team by calling 0300 777 2259 or email ask@change-step.co.uk.