A number of directives have been outlined by the Royal British Legion Guernsey welfare team so far this year to help lead those who could benefit from help to the appropriate services.
The legion’s branch president, Major Bob Place, said there are no figures for the number of men and women living on the island who may have seen active service.
‘It’s an area of concern for them coming back. Loneliness for ex-servicemen is still quite rife.
‘We’ve just started a monthly breakfast meet up at the Rocquettes Hotel, that’s just so we can get to know them and so they can have a meal together.
‘Here at the training day we’ve had two people from the RBL based in the Somme, some ex-servicemen from Jersey and some people from G4S who employ a lot of ex-servicemen on the island,’ he said.
The Defence Mental Welfare Services UK trainer Mark Perryman came to the island, funded by the Morrison Foundation, to give those in contact with members of the armed forces a two-day mental health ‘first aid’ training course.
‘What we aim to do is teach first aid, learning to spot the signs of someone in distress and then to signpost them to help,’ said Mr Perryman.
‘There are different life experiences to take into consideration. It’s only recently that people going into prison in the UK, for example, were even asked if they had served in the armed forces, which can present problems further down the line.’
Isabelle Blake, welfare officer for the RBL in the Somme, comes into contact with British ex-pats who have moved to France and said the course will be invaluable for her and her colleagues.
‘There were some things that we thought now we’ve seen that we’ll come back and assess their behaviour again differently.
‘There are a lot of older people who retire to France and without family they do struggle,’ she said.
The group of 11 were presented with certificates by the Bailiff Sir Richard Collas.
‘I’m pleased to recognise the invaluable work these people do to support servicemen and ex-servicemen who for one reason or another struggle, I think it’s not as well known as it should be.
‘Thankfully we don’t see it at the same level as they do in the UK but I’m sure they all have the same stresses and strains,’ said Sir Richard.
The breakfast club at the Rocquettes is held on the first Saturday of the month from 8 to 9am.
By Alex Warlow
https://guernseypress.com/news/2018/08/06/mental-health-first-aid-course-to-help-ex-service-community/Published: 21st August, 2018