Sunderland Echo

Veterans take on the battle of their lives

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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.”

 ??  ?? East Durham Veterans’ Trust members Dave McKenna and Andy Cammiss have launched a veterans’ suicide prevention campaign.
East Durham Veterans’ Trust members Dave McKenna and Andy Cammiss have launched a veterans’ suicide prevention campaign.
 ??  ?? Ged Naughton, Onside Football and Peace Network.
Ged Naughton, Onside Football and Peace Network.
 ??  ?? John Howe, headteache­r at Seaburn Dene.
John Howe, headteache­r at Seaburn Dene.

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