The Monmouthshire Veterans' Support Hub held an official Opening Ceremony on Monday, October 2, at the St John Ambulance Hall in Fairfield Car Park, Abergavenny.
Two Royal Air Force Veterans established the Veterans' Support Hub with a combined 42 years of service to create the structures to empower those transitioning from military to civilian life, helping them integrate effectively into local communities by drawing on the experiences and peer support of those with similar experiences.
The Support Hub aims to:
Develop a greater awareness of the support and services available to the Armed Forces Community.
Provide individuals with the confidence, knowledge, and skills to access timely and relevant support that meets their needs.
Reinforce people's self-reliance, confidence, esteem, and empowerment to improve health outcomes and longer-term well-being.
Create a safe space for the Armed Forces Community to create friendship networks and support structures.
Offer opportunities to engage with the local community and undertake collaborative activities.
Additionally, access to training on topics such as stress management, panic and anxiety management, managing difficult thoughts, and mindfulness is available to the Armed Forces Community.
Working in partnership with Lisa Rawlings, Armed Forces Covenant Liaison Officer for Gwent, Monmouthshire County Council will provide support in providing high-quality, timely, person-centred support to the Armed Forces Community.
The Hub is further supported by a multi-agency approach, with relevant individuals from local associations and charities available to provide specialist confidential support and guidance, organisations such as Veterans NHS Wales, the Royal British Legion, Department for Work and Pensions, SSAFA, Woody's Lodge, and others to ensure that all those attending feel safe and comfortable.
The Hub launched in March 2022 and quickly outgrew its former home of the library in Abergavenny Community Hub and relocated in June 2023. Sessions are held every Monday 10am-12pm at the St John Ambulance Hall, which is easily accessible by car, train, and bus routes.
Monmouthshire County Council Cabinet Member for Equalities and Engagement, Cllr Angela Sandles said: “The Hub is a warm, welcoming space where veterans can find friendship, camaraderie, and support from people who, like them, have lived experience of the armed forces. The Hub provides a network where they can access support and guidance alongside tea and breakfast rolls!
Monmouthshire County Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Peter Strong, added: “It is evident that Veterans are a tremendous support to each other. There is a saying that when you are in combat, you’re not fighting for your country, you are fighting for your friends. I think that spirit carries on in the hubs as well. We all need help from time to time and sometimes it is difficult to know where to go for that help, and these veterans know help is here for them.”
Monmouthshire is a county that is proud to support the Armed Forces Community through our annual celebration of Armed Forces Week and other notable dates throughout the year.
The Council’s work in collaboration with the Supporting Service Children in Wales programme raises awareness and understanding of the experiences of children of Armed Forces personnel and our partnership with the Monmouthshire Veterans’ Support Hub.
Monmouthshire County Council is a proud holder of the Gold Standard of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and in 2022, won Gold as Employer of the Year at the Welsh Veterans Awards, has signed the Pride in Veterans Standard, and will continue to actively promote and support the Armed Forces Community in any way necessary.
The Monmouthshire Veterans' Support Hub is grateful to have received funding from the Monmouthshire Community Cohesion fund, Welsh Government's Small Grants Programme, Tesco Community Grants Scheme, The Veterans' Foundation, The Covenant Trust Fund - Force for Change Programme, along with very generous donations received by local associations.
A special thank you has been paid to Adferiad for awarding the funding that made the opening celebration possible. Without the generosity and support from these organisations, the Support Hub would not be in the position to provide services for the Armed Forces Community in Monmouthshire.