On 28th February, we mark the 30th anniversary of the end of Gulf War 1. Some veterans returning from the conflict bear long term scars. Not just physical but also psychological. ​

 ​Our Outside The Wire service offers confidential advice and support for PTSD and/or substance misuse issues to ex-HM Forces personnel alongside their families, across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

 PTSD and drug/alcohol misuse issues have been exacerbated by coronavirus and the associated lockdown, which has increased isolation and reduced social contact. Lack of structure and relationship issues have added to these problems, and resulted in worsening mental health and increased alcohol use. This is a very vulnerable group, and suicide risk and health problems are a reality. 

At the same time, there has been a reduction in support available – for example, Combat Stress has significantly cut down its support in our region, and many other local services, Outside the Wire included, are struggling to keep up with demand having seen a 12% increase in referrals.

At a time when our support is more vital than ever, Outside the Wire is facing funding difficulties, brought on by Covid-19, and may need to wind down some services, having already lost one member of staff. 

We are currently working with over 100 veterans and family members across Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, primarily through remote support (video calls, phone calls, and messaging), but also carrying out face-to-face welfare checks for particularly vulnerable individuals. We are also delivering care packages across the region. With your help, we can continue providing vital one-to-one support during this crucial time, helping our armed forces beneficiaries when they need it most. 

If you are able to support our cause by making a donation, please click here. It will take you to our Total Giving donations account where you can note OTW Appeal 2021 as your cause.

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Above is a blog from former service user and Army veteran, David Fincham. Do please listen to his incredible journey of recovery. He has gone from drinking five bottles of wine a day and sleeping in a church doorway to becoming a popular and successful Norfolk photographer.

Dave's story is one of success, but not all are. It is estimated that between 3,500 and 6,000 former veterans are currently living homeless in the UK and the suicide rate among former military personnel has doubled in the last decade.
Understanding the issues

On leaving the military there is minimal support available for former servicemen and women to deal with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression related to their military service. They may also find themselves exposed to problems they had experienced before service.

Someone with PTSD often relives a traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They  may  also  have  problems  sleeping,  such  as  insomnia,  and   find concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person's day-to-day life. Without specialist support, it is not uncommon for a sufferer of PTSD to 'self medicate' to alleviate the symptoms they are experiencing which can in turn lead to addiction, dangerous behaviour, relationship issues, debt and worsening mental and physical health. Suicide and death from substance misuse issues are too common a reality.

When ex military personnel receive support from Outside The Wire, they find it refreshing to talk openly and frankly with someone who 'speaks the same language' and understands their background.
As you can see from the testimonials above, the OTW team are having a  life altering impact on those that they work with. However they lost funding from a major donor at the beginning of the Covid crisis which resulted in a redundancy. It is therefore crucial that they secure funds through this appeal to continue their vital work. It is expected that damage to mental health caused by the Covid crisis could last for years and Outside The Wire will see an increased demand for support.
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It costs Outside The Wire £40 per hour for a one to one counselling session with a trained practitioner. Please consider donating as much or as little as you can afford and help them to continue their life saving work.

Sharing news of this appeal is also incredibly helpful. Please click on one of the icons below to forward this email to your networks.

THANKYOU for your time in reading this and very best wishes to you all,
From all the team at The Matthew Project Charity🙏
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