The Veterans Hub is open to all
In the latest blog focusing on work being done to support former Armed Forces personnel, we hear from Andy Price, co-founder of Weymouth's Veterans Hub.
Our organisation is a community project that was set up as a part time venture in late 2017 with the intention of providing a safe and secure location for veterans and their families.
The Veterans Hub, on Portland Road in Wyke Regis, enables them to come together and socialise in a non-clinical setting in order to provide peer-to-peer support.
Despite Dorset having one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the UK there is, sadly, a distinct lack of veteran orientated support services in the county, especially regarding the mental and physical health side of things.
Because of this fact and through my own experiences, we set this project up and very quickly were almost overwhelmed with the number of veterans, and their family members, coming to us in the hopes of finding support and reassurance through people from a similar background.
In July 2018 myself and two others made the decision to take the project full-time following several tragic veteran suicides over a very short period in our area of operations.
We can’t say for sure that if we had been a full-time project at the time these former soldiers took their own lives that things would have been different for them. However, we do strongly believe that by being open to veterans six days a week we have made a difference to some that potentially could have chosen the same path.
Essentially, we are saying to veterans and their families that they are not alone and there is a whole ‘military’ family out there that will dig out for them.
Fast forward almost one year and we have now taken over a large outdoor space that is currently being landscaped and when completed will be used as a therapeutic space comprising a purpose-built gym, allotments and a relaxation/sensory area.
In addition to this, we now support more than 60 veterans and their family members from across Dorset while being a genuine asset to the local community. Our café is open during daytime hours to all of the public and we encourage people from all backgrounds to make use of our facilities and enjoy the space we have created.
It’s worth pointing out that one of the reasons we believe that our project works is because we are not a traditional support organisation.
Our aim is not to replicate or replace established and proven organisations but instead complement them by providing a true community Hub that offers a friendly ear and a decent brew to those that need it. We do this in a non-judgmental environment run by people who live with mental health difficulties on a day-to-day basis.
For those that need more we have worked hard to build good relationships with existing organisations, and that has enabled us to effectively signpost veterans to people better placed to offer support.
We are an open book and welcome anyone who wishes to visit The Veterans Hub to see first-hand how we work - only by working together can we make a difference to those that need it.