AN INNOVATIVE collaboration is enabling armed forces veterans and their families in North Wales to receive the full range of support they need.
The unique peer mentor partnership between Veterans NHS Wales and Change Step is the first of its kind in the UK, and has been made possible thanks to funding from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
For the past six months, two North Wales Veterans NHS Therapists have been supported by Mike Bellfield and his fellow veteran Kevin Hackett, who provide a peer mentoring service to veterans, as well as low-level therapeutic interventions, and support for veterans before, during and after treatment.
Quick and effective
They also provide advice on matters such as emergency funding, armed forces compensation, benefits and other financial matters, as well as employment support and training, and housing and accommodation solutions.
Advice and help with requests for assistance from other forces charities in North Wales is also provided – maximising the range of support available.
Their efforts are already allowing Veterans NHS Wales therapists to intervene more quickly and effectively.
Mike, from Kinmel Bay, who served with the Royal Engineers for 18 years, was deployed to numerous combat zones and developed symptoms which included nightmares and sleep phobia when he left the Army in 2000.
Kevin, from Wrexham, served for 12 years in the Royal Navy and witnessed first-hand how combat can affect colleagues both physically and mentally.
“Experience shows that having the confidence to openly talk about things that you’ve never fully disclosed before can feel strange and taking those first steps to seek help are the most difficult” explained Mike.
“By establishing this unique partnership and improved route to service, BCUHB and Veterans NHS Wales are demonstrating their understanding and commitment to our veterans and their families in North Wales.”
Delivered by veterans for veterans, Change Step provides peer mentoring for former members of the forces and reservists throughout Wales.
The organisation has supported around 1,200 veterans and their families across Wales since being launched in 2014, and has been hailed as a “best-in-class” and “value for money” service by the respected Forces in Mind Trust.
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