Help for Heroes volunteers learn about support for military veterans in Cumbria – with Cake!

Young Help for Heroes volunteers and college students raised hundreds of pounds and learned of the mental health support for veterans in Cumbria at a fundraising event in Penrith recently.

Nicky Lavery from the First Step service in the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) gave a talk to those who attended the Bake for Heroes event at Newton Rigg College. She explained the help available in Cumbria through the NHS for veterans and anyone serving in the armed forces.

She said:

“It is important for people to be able to talk about their issues. The amount of people who will need help in the future is increasing due to current conflicts. Awareness now is much better; it used to take someone 13 years to seek help for their problems, now they are seeking help in about 18 months.”

The Bake for Heroes event at Newton Rigg College was arranged by 17 year old Megan Friel Saunders, from Longtown near Carlisle, who is a Help for Heroes volunteer and is studying a public service course. The course is for students who are working towards a career in any of the armed forces, police or fire services.  

She said:

“I’m really passionate about the work Help for Heroes does and I wanted to fundraise for them. I knew that there was mental health support that veterans could access in Cumbria through the NHS and I thought it was a great way to highlight this. Myself and others on the public sector course here might one day need to access help and it’s important to know that the help is there and not to be embarrassed to ask for it. I hope that I have helped to break down some of the stigma and give confidence even just among my fellow students.”

Guy Heath the course leader said:

“Choosing careers in the armed forces, police and fire service means they are likely to endure some harrowing experiences. It is important for the students to know what help is available out there and where to find support when they need it.”

Nicky added:

“Campaigns like Heads Together, Help for Heroes projects, Band of Brothers, Combat Stress, Royal British Legion, Hidden Wounds and others have raised awareness of the help available and how to access it. It isn’t just help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or physical injuries which people can get help with. Leaving military life and returning to civilian life brings a different set of problems. Veterans and their families can struggle with housing, jobs, careers, finance, psychological wellbeing and miss the camaraderie.“

Martin Graham, Help for Heroes volunteer said:

“Help available was quite vague in the past, now there are options of a national free recovery service which is available face to face, skype, telephone and email. The oldest Help for Heroes beneficiary is aged 97 and the youngest is 18.”

Altogether nearly £300 was raised for the charity.

For more information on the NHS Service for military veterans please see the CPFT website or contact First Step on 0300 123 9122.  You can visit Help for Heroes or telephone 01980 844224.

The photo from left to right shows: Nicky Lavery, Elizabeth Graham - H4H volunteer, Megan Friel Saunders -organsier and H4H volunteer, Guy Heath - Newton Rigg course leader, Graham Martin - H4H volunteer.