New social groups for older service veterans starting to help reduce loneliness
Social groups for older ex-service veterans are being set in Nottinghamshire to reduce loneliness and social isolation, and help improve their health and wellbeing.
It is estimated 5.8 percent of Nottinghamshire’s 750,000 population are ex-service community, which amounts to 43,500 residents.
The County Council was awarded £106,000 to fund a project worker for two years to link up veterans aged over 65 with local projects and activities to help them be more active in their community.
Weekly group sessions have started at Broxtowe Day Service based on Sunnyside Road and are held every Tuesday between 10.30am and 12pm.
Activities include cooking, reminiscence sessions where attendees share wartime and past experiences, and creating a war memories archive.
Other groups are being set up at Bingham Day Service on Moor Lane and the community room at Toton’s Tesco store and there are plans to start groups in the Mansfield area.
Gordon Marshall, 78 from East Stoke, Newark, is helping to set up the Toton group. He was a Territorial Army volunteer for 13 years. He said: “It’s all about preventing loneliness and getting people together to make new friends.
“We also want to set up smaller groups to do specific activities such as walking, playing games, trips out from one base.
“There is a comradery when you are in service and you would die for the next person, so when you get older you miss that. I hope to bring that spirit back for ex-service veterans.”
Councillor Keith Girling, the Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “Ex-service veterans often have mental scars from their traumatic wartime experiences which can worsen if they become socially isolated in old age.
“This fantastic project brings older veterans together to share their memories and make friends with people who have had similar experiences, which helps to improve their health and wellbeing.
“This project is in its early days so we are appealing for relatives, friends or neighbours who know of an older veteran in their community to make them aware of the sessions.”
The sessions are part of a wider project with the St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) who have two welfare officers based in the QMC and City Hospitals to offer impartial and confidential medical welfare advice to veterans aged 65 and over.
The DMWS and the Alzheimer’s Society teamed up with the Council to win the funding from the Community Covenant Aged Veterans Fund, which amounts to £400,000 for Nottinghamshire.
For more information, visit our Veterans Together Network webpage.