East Durham Veterans Trust has just completed its first year in the veterans hub in Seaham and what a year it has been.
In the above video we speak about some of the achievements we have had over the past twelve months.
To put it in words is difficult as we achieved so much over the year. At the start of the year we were hit by restrictions form the government, these restrictions limited us to a maximum of 15 people within our peer support groups. Our peer support groups were on a Saturday morning and this was the start of the social inclusion programme that we were running. These groups developed massively over the year, at the start we had a group of approx 5 people but by the end of the year we had 31 in this group. This proved to be a massive improvement in the numbers of the group but also proved that this was the sort of group that people wanted, to be able to come along and socialise and enjoy like minded people's company.
The social inclusion programme that we planned to start at the start of the year had to be delayed till later in the year, so the next event on the calendar was the grand opening of the veterans hub in Seaham. This was a proud moment and less than a year previous this was a goal but concurrently seemed to be some way in the future so we achieved this quickly, this was due to the hard work of the trustees of the veterans trust, firstly identifying and secondly securing the premises that we currently reside within. In April we had the grand opening with the local MP and trustee Grahame Morris cutting the ribbon to officially open the veterans trust.
Following the opening of the veterans trust we were in full flow of supporting the veteran community, it was around this time that we took part in a number of parades within the local area. Firstly the sad passing of Prince Phillip who was a veteran himself after serving within the Royal Navy. We held a service at the cenotaph in Seaham as well as one trustee from the veterans hub decorating the floor in front of the Tommy statue. This was shortly followed by the armed forces day service again held at the cenotaph.
It was just before the armed forces day parade that we were made aware charity within the local area, spare 10 for ben. This charity was created by a mother and son, Claire and Liam. It was created in memory of Ben, the son and brother of Claire and Liam. In Early 2020 Ben took his own life so Claire and Liam created the charity in and aim to honour his memory. Claire and Liam were raising funds and placing inspirational benches across the region, the bench holds an inspirational quote letting someone know that people care. We saw it only fitting that we had one of the benches at the veterans trust hub. For armed forces day we were holding a raffle in an aid to raise money for the veterans trust, so we decided to spend the money raised from the armed forces day raffle would be used for a bench. Shortly after armed forces day we received the bench and it was installed outside the veterans trust.
Following the parades that we had taken part in the next big event on the calendar was our biggest fundraiser of the year, this was parachute day. On this day we held a fundraiser that lasted the full day at the parachute centre in County Durham. On this day over 40 people volunteered, raised money and took to the skies doing tandem parachute jumps from 10,000 ft and 15,000 ft. As well as the sky divers we had a number of stalls, as well as children's cartoon characters. As well as all of this we all also had live music and the atmosphere was amazing. This day was a magnificent and we raised an amazing £13,000 for the services we are providing to the veterans community.
Following parachute day we started to build up towards the end of the year, we had remembrance day coming up with a number of commitments around this time. Our friends at Great annual savings arranged for the creation of some extra large poppies to be built and we helped install these at great annual savings HQ. We also had the pleasure of HMS Anson who came along to the veterans hub for breakfast and helped us with our areas of the centre. Our model club arranged for the creation of an model that took them months to build and this was then placed in the exhibition of through a soldier's eyes.
The lead up to Christmas was an extremely busy time at East Durham Veterans Trust, we planned a Christmas party which hosted more than 80 veterans and their families a week before Christmas. This proved to be an excellent day with a three course meal provided and a visit of Santa claus as well as live music. As well as the Christmas party we also delivered 30 Christmas hampers t our veterans and their families across the region, this was thanks to a number of kind donations from members of the public which allowed us to do this.
Overall in 2021 we have supported over 180 service users at East Durham Veterans trust, with a number of them going through our mental health programme as well as a number coming along for the social inclusion. Social exclusion can cause many mental health problems so promoting social inclusion in the way that we do can only be a positive for supporting the veteran community. In 2022 we will continue to do what we do with regards to the veterans community and help as many veterans and their families as possible