Forces Connect South West mobile veterans outreach service deployed on its second regional outing, its first in Cornwall and spent a pleasantly warm autumn day on Lemon Quay in Truro on 2 Oct 19. A unique service developed by the partnership of local authorities and funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund and supported locally by Truro City Council, RAF St Mawgan and the NHS.

The concept is part of a wider brief to better coordinate the support available to the whole military community. David Wood the project manager said, “These initial deployments are providing opportunities to develop partnerships at the local level, some existing and others that we are able to test against the local need, whilst also providing direct support – today we have been able to directly support a number of people, mostly with information, but for some with more complex issues that we can assist to resolve”.

Helping in Truro were Philippa Dowling, Cornwall Councils Covenant officer, Jeff Spencer of the South West Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee, and Claire Martin from Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

Jeff Spencer said, “Being able to provide this service locally is tremendous, the complexity of the veteran and Covenant subject has always led to much confusion. Education is key. Anyone seeking support should first of all seek that help from statutory authorities. Charities should support beyond that point. The challenge is to ensure that the helpline staff know what can, and should be done, and, if in doubt, point veterans at the single point of contact; Veterans Gateway.”

Philippa Dowling said, “As a mobile initiative this is a resource that allows Cornwall Council to be more engaged in its delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant and work closer with other partners like the NHS.”

The outreach programme has also just recruited an Outreach Project Officer who will be responsible for the further development of the programme across the south west, and as it establishes it is expected that the number of people within the military community it is able to help will increase significantly, having already started to make a difference.