Needy veterans thrown a lifeline with new £2m charity support service

Chris Purcell, who was onboard HMS Sheffield.' Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Chris Purcell, who was onboard HMS Sheffield.' Picture: Ian Hargreaves
The 10,000th trainee passes through the MCTS training facility at HMS Collingwood. AB(WS) Matthew North at his consul during a simulated missile attack

Royal Navy training hub in Fareham marks its 10,000th trainee

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PORTSMOUTH is at the heart of a new service that is set to revolutionise how veterans can obtain much-needed help.

Veterans’ Gateway has been launched in an effort to clear up confusion faced by service-leavers desperate for support.

It aims to improve access to welfare services and speed-up the time it takes for veterans to receive the assistance they deserve.

The new £2m service, funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is being delivered by a Royal British Legion-led consortium made up of a range of armed forces charities. And Portsmouth is being seen as a key proving ground for the service, the Royal British Legion has said.

It’s a move that has been welcomed by Falklands veteran Chris Purcell – who is one of Portsmouth’s Poppy Appeal organisers.

The 57-year-old, of Fratton, has been battling PTSD for decades and said this new scheme will make the lives of thousands of veterans easier.

Veterans have been crying out for this

Chris Purcell

‘Veterans have been crying out for this,’ he said.

‘Some veterans are suffering from PTSD and they’d like to have just one direction to find the help they need instead of seeing one health professional, telling them their life story and then having to repeat this all over again to somebody else.

‘They give up in the end. They say that “I can’t be bothered going through this”. They are suffering in silence.’

Standing at 85,000 people, Hampshire has one of the largest populations of veterans in the UK.

The new 24-hour online chat, phone, and text message service is partly manned by veterans who have been trained to help the armed forces community.

It comes after independent research by the consortium revealed how a fifth of veterans have been referred to between three and 10 charities before eventually finding help.

Of that figure more than half found the sheer number of armed forces charities confusing; there are more than 2,000 UK-wide.

The resulting confusion left 45 per cent unsure where to turn.

James France, the legion’s area manager for Hampshire, said the gateway would solve this problem, providing a first point of contact who could direct them to the correct charity.

‘It’s a one-stop- shop for any problems that veterans might be facing – whether it be housing, finance, mental health, employment or illness-related,’ he said.

‘Despite the wonderful work that all UK military charities carry out on a daily basis, the sheer number of them causes confusion when ex-servicemen and women are looking for help.’

To access the new service, call 0808 802 1212 or visit