militaryThe UK Governments’ Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR fund has awarded a grant of £1 million to Llandudno-based drug and alcohol charity CAIS to offer guidance and support to military veterans and others with post traumatic stress disorder across Wales.

The Change Step peer-mentoring project was initially established in north Wales in 2012 with the aim of supporting 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.

Now the service will be rolled out across the whole of Wales, having been launched by Kirsty Williams AM and Change Step patron Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler last week [1 October].

Clive Wolfendale chief executive of CAIS said: "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."

Examples of psychosocial issues tackled by Change Step include homelessness, unemployment, mental health problems and substance misuse issues among military veterans, former members of the emergency services, trauma survivors and their families.

The programme will see 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 also been established to support families, friends and carers of veterans experiencing difficulties.

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