NHS workers under strain turning to veterans' mental health charity for help with pressures - South Shields MP heaps praise on Veterans at Ease

Nurses and other NHS workers under pressure are being given help with mental health issues by a South Shields-based charity set up to help veterans and serving armed forces personnel.

Veterans at Ease is a military mental health charity, running therapy centres to help veterans, reservists, serving personnel and their families deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other combat stress-related issues.

Those in need can make an appointment for therapy, privately and discreetly, in the shop.

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The charity says it has also begun to help NHS workers, and is expecting to see an increase in nurses in particular using the service.

From left: Tessa Godley from Big Society Capital, Veterans At Ease shop manager Chris Thompson, Emma Lewell-Buck MP and the charity's office manager James Eaglesham.

It comes amid national reports of the NHS in crisis, with staffing issues, high demands on services, and strikes over pay.

Veterans at Ease provides free therapy and support from trained therapists, all of whom have suffered themselves, been through treatment with Veterans at Ease, then gone on to qualify.

The charity has a shop in King Street to raise funds, opened in October 2021. South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck called in to see what it was all about at the weekend.

The visit was arranged by Big Society Capital, the independent financial institution set up to grow investment into enterprises with a social purpose.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck visits Veterans at Ease in King Street, South Shields with office manager James Eaglesham.

She said: “I’ve come down to Veterans at Ease to find out more about the charity work they do here and the services they deliver for my constituents. I’m so pleased that they’re here providing this service.

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“You can see today that it’s really busy and already people are supporting the place. I think the more the word gets out the better, because we do have a lot of veterans in South Shields.

“Also I found out today, which is really interesting, is that it’s not just people from our armed forces, people who come here for therapy sessions are also from our front line services and blue light services.”

James Eaglesham, the charity’s office manager and a veteran himself, said: “People have benefited from this. We started off with one shop and now we’re up to eight.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck made a new friend in the Veterans At Ease shop, but might not get a vote out of it.
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“We’ve brought mental health to the high street. You can walk in and there isn’t a neon light saying ‘mental health centre’. When someone walks into the shop they just look like another customer.

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“We’re here to support veterans, serving personnel and their families. It’s not just individuals, we look after the full family unit. We’re seeing an increase in people coming from the NHS as well. We’re going to be seeing a lot more nurses.”

Veterans at Ease has been a recipient of social investment in the form of a £30,000 grant and a £56,000 loan from the Key Fund. This allowed it to help over 500 veterans while opening shops, creating 28 jobs and providing volunteering opportunities across the North East.

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It is an example of the organisations helped by using dormant assets funding for social purpose organisations. The second round of funding from dormant assets totalling £738million will be allocated early in 2023 and Big Society Capital is hoping that a significant amount will be made available to help organisations such as Veterans at Ease in creating tangible social benefit.

Visit www.veteransatease.org for more information on the charity