Home » A new way forward for Wales veterans
Blaenangwent Caerphilly Community Community Community Community Community Community Monmouthshire Newport News Powys South Wales Torfaen

A new way forward for Wales veterans

VETERANS can boost their wellbeing by making connections in the community through a new service, Navigator, launched by The Poppy Factory in South Wales.

Professionals who work with socially isolated veterans in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen and South Powys can now make a referral to Navigator Cymru through a simple online form.

Members of the Armed Forces community will be given one-to-one coaching, encouraging them to improve their confidence and independence and take part in activities.

The service, funded in South Wales by The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, launched in April. At the same time, Veterans’ Foundation has awarded significant funding to The Poppy Factory to continue offering Navigator in Cheshire and Merseyside throughout 2024/25.

In its first year, 26 veterans in North West England were referred to the service. Navigator helped veterans to achieve their personal goals, with six moving on to The Poppy Factory’s employment support, including former soldiers John Molleneux and Simon Pigott.

Royal Army Ordnance Corps veteran John Molleneux, who was battling alcohol addiction when he was referred to Navigator and is now thriving in a new job, said, “When you’re in a bad place and are trying to find your way out of it, knowing that someone is there for you is a little thing that can make a big difference.

“I feel like I’ve got the bit between my teeth now – I’m not the finished article and there are things I want to do and to achieve. But I feel great about myself and I’m happy with myself.”

In the last year, there were 43 referrals from Navigator to partner organisations for specialist help around housing, mental health, debt and other issues.

Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards veteran Simon Pigott, who first received support from The Poppy Factory after being released from prison and is now training to become a counsellor, said, “I was homeless and I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do.

“Pete, who delivers the Navigator service, went above and beyond in helping me get somewhere to live. We’d meet face to face in a café or a park. Pete was always there for me, someone I could talk to.

online casinos UK

“People in my kind of situation don’t ask for help. My advice is to give it a chance and reach out, because it’s made a massive difference to my life.”

Navigator offers up to six months of person-centred support for veterans who are experiencing isolation, loneliness and poor mental or physical health. A referral into the service can be made by any professional who is supporting a veteran with their mental or physical health.

Amanda Shepard, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said, “It’s clear from our work as an employment charity that there are many in the Armed Forces community who are socially isolated and face an uphill struggle to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

“Our Navigator service is already helping dozens of veterans in Cheshire and Merseyside, and I’m delighted that Veterans’ Foundation has recognised that early promise by awarding new funding. This investment, combined with the generous support of The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust in extending Navigator to Gwent, will help many more veterans to overcome barriers, make positive changes and enjoy more connected and rewarding lives.”

Simon Heyes, Chief Operating Officer of the Veterans’ Foundation, said, “The Veterans’ Foundation has been supporting a wide range of charities who provide direct assistance to the Armed Forces community since 2016. The success of the initial Navigator service and its further deployment to now include South Wales is testimony to the ongoing support which The Poppy Factory provides to veterans and others. The Veterans’ Foundation trustees were particularly impressed with the project aim of overcoming barriers which currently impede long term unemployed veterans returning to sustainable and fulfilling employment.”

Navigator offers veterans person-centred support at a pace appropriate to their needs. It is currently available in Cheshire and Merseyside, and in South Wales for veterans living in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen and South Powys.

If you are a professional who would like to refer a veteran to the Navigator service, visit poppyfactory.org/navigatorreferral or email [email protected]