Chad appeal helps veterans' support group find base in Mansfield
An appeal by the Chad to help a Mansfield-based group that supports traumatised veterans of the armed forces has paid dividends.
Former mental-health nurse Eileen Massey, who turned 64 last week, created Veterans Unite to make the transition from battlefield back to civilian life more comfortable for men and women who have served their country in war-ravaged countries.
However, she badly needed a suitable base that would serve as a drop-in centre, meeting place and cafe.
An appeal in the Chad last month has done the trick because the mental-health charity, Nottinghamshire Mind, stepped forward to offer a room at its Mansfield headquarters on St John Street.
Now Eileen is hosting weekly sessions every Tuesday, from 10 am to 12.30 pm, when veterans can pop in for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee.
"I can deal with a lot of things myself because of my training as a mental-health nurse,” said Eileen.
"But if necessary, I can refer them on for specialised help and support.
"The Mind team have let me have the room for free. They are a brilliant crew and have been fantastic. I have a very good relationship with them.”
Eileen set up Veterans Unite because she was so touched by the plight of hundreds of former servicemen and women who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Flashbacks, nightmares and extreme anxiety are some of the symptoms veterans face when they return to civilian life. Many cannot cope, and turn to drink and drugs or even find themselves homeless and on the streets.
"Just a few days ago, I had a call from a girl in Bilsthorpe, who had lost her sister to PTSD. She had been in the Army but committed suicide.
"Then, over Christmas, she lost her mum and dad to Covid, so she has lots of items they all left that she wants to donate to us. She thinks we are doing a great job.”
Eileen has a whole range of items, from clothes and handbags to books and ornaments, that she sells to raise funds for Veterans Unite.
So she is now on the lookout for a shop in Mansfield that she can hire, rent free, for a few months to sell her stock “at reasonable prices”.
"I desperately need a place, and there are loads of empty shops in Mansfield at the moment,” she said.
If there are any businesses, organisations or entrepreneurs out there who have empty premises and might be able to help, please give Eileen a call on 07484 867675.
Eileen has already staged two fundraising events this year at Vicar Water Country Park in Clipstone, and a third is planned on Sunday, August 1, from 12 midday to 4 pm.
Free to attend, the event will feature stalls, tombolas for adults and children, a raffle with “some lovely prizes” and refreshments including home-made cakes.
As usual, the day has been backed by businesses and residents of Clipstone, where she used to live.
Meanwhile, Eileen continues to wait to see if Veterans Unite can attain charitable status. When it is approved, she will be able to apply for funding from bodies such as the National Lottery.