Mansfield group for armed forces veterans needs rent-free base
An appeal has been issued to private landlords to help a Mansfield-based group supporting veterans of the armed forces.
Former mental-health nurse Eileen Massey, 63, set up Veterans Unite in a bid to ease the often-traumatic transition back to civilian life for ex-servicemen and women.
However, her efforts to find a suitable base for the group that would serve as a drop-in centre, meeting place and cafe have been unsuccessful so far.
She was even quoted as much as £800 a month at one empty place she identified as ideal on Church Street in Mansfield.
Therefore, she is looking for any owners of private property who might be willing to offer a helping hand.
"We desperately need a place as a start-up that we could possibly use for six months, rent-free,” said Eileen.
"A place where the veterans can pop in for a cup of tea and a chat, and where we can also sell stuff to continue our fundraising.
"I am getting really frustrated because I just want to get out there and start helping people.”
Many of the veterans say it is difficult to find a home, a job or even peace of mind when they leave the armed forces.
Some suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their time in war-ravaged countries, and cannot cope with flashbacks, nightmares and extreme anxiety. Many turn to drink and drugs and find themselves on the streets.
"They need help to pinpoint them in the right direction,” said Eileen. “They are struggling, and quite a few don't get any support.
"I no longer work, but I want to do something positive and use my skills in mental health.”
Only recently, she has been put in touch with a Nottinghamshire veteran who is an amputee and has been homeless.
As well as the fight for a property, the progress of Veterans Unite has been hampered by the ‘long drawn-out process’ in attaining charity status for the group.
Once that is sorted out, Eileen can begin to apply for funding from bodies such as the National Lottery.
However, she is still continuing her own fundraising. And after a successful bric-a-brac sale in April, her next event will be held at Vicar Water Country Park in Clipstone on Sunday, June 20 from noon-4pm.
It will comprise a car boot sale, tombola, raffle and cake stall and has been arranged to coincide with national Armed Forces Day six days later.
"Come along and grab a bargain, “said Eileen. “I will be selling all kinds of items, including brand-new clothes for children and adults and also second-hand clothes that have been kindly donated.
"Everything is for sale at reasonable prices, and there will also be a competition for the kids to guess the number of sweets in a jar.
"I live in Mansfield now, but I still have the support of the Clipstone community, and the local Co-op and Ruby’s News shops have promised to help.
"I would also be grateful if any local businesses or individuals want to donate prizes for the raffle.”