Veterans take on the battle of their lives
A campaign is calling for changes to how Armed Services veterans are supported in a bid to prevent suicide.
The Fight of Our Lives: Reform Mental Health Support for Veterans petition calls on the Government to take three steps to help ex-servicemen andwomenseekssupportand establishthetruepictureofthe problem.
Led by East Durham Veterans’ Trust, it suggests that coroners record whether someone who took their own life had served in the Forces.
It also says veterans should be given an annual mental health check up for the first three years after they leave the Forces,withscreeningforconditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and rapid intervention for anyone who needs it.
TheParliamentarypetition was set up by Dave McKenna, trusttrustee,leaderoftheSeaham Remember Them Fund, with more than 2,400 names added so far.
Dave, who served as a Colour Sergeant in the Royal RegimentofFusiliers,said:“During the last 10 years we have seen an overwhelming increase in suicide cases in veterans.
“We want the Government to do something about it because we know it has shot up, but there are no statistics, and if you don’t know the true picture, how can you do anything about it?
"We also want to raise awareness of mental health and let people know we can help.
"We’vecalleditFightofOur Lives and that’s it, they really are fighting to save their own lives.”
Fellow trust member Andy Cammiss,whospent13yearsin theRoyalCorpsofSignals,said the organisation was aware of six veteran suicides so far thisyear,fourintheNorthEast, with many leaving the Armed Forces left struggling to organise their money, bills, housing and employment as they set out in civilian life.
He said: “It is a massive problemwithveteransandany whocomeforwardforhelpcan bewaitingformonthsforhelp.
"We hope the petition will really make a difference and getting help early is key.”
Thetrustisabletohosthelp sessions for up to 15 people under lockdown rules at its base atDawdonYouthandCommunityCentreandhasbeenworking with organisations such as Anxious Minds to help vets seek support.
It has its own Facebook page, while the petition can be signedviahttps://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/569451
Primary school pupils in Sunderland are giving children in one of the world’s poorest countries a sporting chance to get kitted out for the beautiful game.
Children at Seaburn Dene Primary, in Torver Crescent, collected dozens of pairs of football boots for junior playersintheWestAfricancountry of Liberia.
The boots, and a set of football strips, have been given to the Onside Football and Peace Network, which runs four grassroots teams for children aged from seven to 14 to educateandsupport–particularly girls–throughaccesstoorganised sport.
The group’s UK-based organiser Ged Naughton picked up the shipment and was delightedwiththedonation–one of two that the school aim to
collect this year.
Hesaid:“It’sgreatthatwe’re finally getting the shipment underwa. The last time we got anystufftoLiberiawasinApril 2019, so they’re desperate for replacements.
"They keep the boots for special games, but even then, they don’t last long on dry, rocky surfaces.”
Liberiaisstillrebuildingafter being badly hit during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 which killed more than 4,000 from a population of just over four million.Theoutbreakfollowed a 14-year civil war.
John Howe, headteacher at SeaburnDene,said,“Sportand PE sit at the heart of our school curriculum, helping children connect with their local community and internationally.
“This cause has allowed us to link two of our goals broadening the children’s understanding, while making real connectionsfor,whatwehope, aretheglobalcitizensofthefuture.”