South East Wales

Vale council launches pilot project to help servicemen

Armed forces veterans and servicemen in south Wales are being offered a new support service to help them cope with stress.

The Vale of Glamorgan project is aimed at helping tackle the problems of relocating after tours of duty overseas.

It hopes to improve access to local services by providing a single point of contact.

The pilot project will be rolled out to the rest of Wales if successful.

Currently only three councils in England and one in Scotland have been chosen by the Ministry of Defence to pilot the 'Armed Forces Community Welfare Pathway'.

The new service will offer a new national point of contact phone number - 08000 223366 - to help direct servicemen, veterans and their families towards the right help.

It will provide advice about access to NHS services, education, skills and careers, as well as help with housing and transport.

Users will be also be told where to find help for veterans with mental health problems and access to affordable childcare

Councillor Janice Charles has been appointed as the Vale council's armed forces community champion.

She said: "I encouraged the council to take part in the scheme as I feel very strongly that we should support our armed forces and veterans.

"There are terrible cases of veterans living in poor conditions when there is help available for them, but they do not know how to access the support.

"I believe this scheme will make it easier for troops, their families, and veterans to access the services that are there to help them. They serve their country nobly and they should not go wanting for the lack of help and information."

Sgt Stu Taylor, of Harlech Flight at St Athan, has recommended the service to friends returning from overseas tours.

He said: "Having a single point of contact for a wide range of services is particularly useful for families returning from overseas.

"Coming back to the UK is a time of upheaval for families and the Welfare Pathway saves having to call several different numbers."

If the pilots are successful the scheme will be rolled out nationally in April 2011.

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