A NEW SERVICE for past members of the armed forces over 65 is set to launch this weekend.

Saturday marks Armed Forces Day across the UK and the new service, known as Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire, will be present at the York and Scarborough celebrations.

The aims of the new service are to raise awareness of the issues older veterans face in later life and retirement, and offer practical and customised support to enable them to lead fuller lives in the way they would like.

Examples of support on offer include home visits to look at improvements around the house, healthy lifestyle courses, opportunities to take part in trips and new activities, befriending and volunteering, and help and advice for carers and families.

The work is backed by a consortium of 14 charities and organisations and will contribute to the support offered by service charities by focusing on alleviating loneliness and isolation.

The charities involved, from Age UK to Carers Resource to Saint Michael’s Hospice, are all experienced in working with older people who may have complex needs.

Any veteran over the age of 65 is eligible, as well as anyone who completed National Service conscription or supported the armed forces through a role in the Merchant Navy. The 3-year project will cover North Yorkshire and York and is funded by the Aged Veterans Fund at the Ministry of Defence by the Chancellor using LIBOR fines.

Leah Swain, Chief Executive of Community First Yorkshire, the charity leading the consortium, said: “This concentrated support for our older veterans will ensure they receive the care, value and recognition they deserve.

“We are working across sectors to bring this new service to North Yorkshire and we are passionate about helping our older ex-forces community to identify and achieve their goals.

“The project has been developed to offer a variety of low level and more intensive interventions to ensure issues are not missed, and we will be working with our colleagues at the likes of SSAFA to provide a rounded and helpful package of support.”

Lynn Williams, White Rose Home Improvement Agency, a partner in the project said: “We are delighted to be part of Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire and are excited about the forthcoming launch. Our particular brand of support will be providing a range of housing related information and advice through home visits and we hope that this will have a positive impact on the well- being of the ex-forces community.”

Veterans Tommy and Judith in Selby have been taking part in an art group run by Rural Arts for the past couple of months. The funding for the new service means art groups such as these can be made available across the region.

Tommy, a former regular in the RAMC who saw service in Korea, learned photography and radiography in the army and helped teach other soldiers about battlefield wounds. “It’s not like you see on the telly,” he said.

Judith served 4 years with the RAF, mainly in Lincolnshire, joining at 18. She greatly enjoyed her service where she also met her husband, a Flight Lieutenant.

“I enjoy doing the arts and would like to do more of it,” said Judith, “it is very relaxing.”

Tommy meanwhile is interested in storytelling, something the new project will look to cater for. He has previously written a book on his army days and his later career with the police in County Durham.

Leah Swain said: “It is often the case that the stories and lives of our older veterans are only visible during Remembrance Week and other key anniversaries. It is our aim to increase awareness of how much veterans have contributed to our society and what they would still like to contribute.”

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