New Southport Veterans Hub has been officially opened by the Royal British Legion as it celebrates 100th anniversary
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The ceremony was performed by Southport MP Damien Moore and Mayor of Sefton Cllr Clare Carragher, as they were joined by serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans from a number of local Forces charities and organisations.
It is operated by the Southport branch of the Royal British Legion and aims to be a safe space where Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families can go and meet up, enjoy a coffee with friends, and seek advice or support.
The Royal British Legion will be on hand to help veterans with issues including welfare support, while also being able to signpost the best places for issues such as mental health.
Southport Veterans Hub is the first centre in the country to use the smart new Royal British Legion logo, as the organisation celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Speaking at the official opening of the new Southport Veterans Hub, Southport Royal British legion Chairman Major Nick McEntee said: “This is a monumental day for Southport, that we have this key location all set up and ready to go.
“2021 was the centenary year for the Royal British Legion. The national focus has been to reflect on their achievements over the last 100 years and stand ready to support the next generation when they need us, which aligns absolutely with our mission here in Southport.
“We are here to support the serving community, which I am part of, and also the veterans community, which has an extremely large population.
“We want to provide a visible, modern and approachable brand, ready to support veterans of all ages.
“Veterans are not just people who are retired. Veterans can be 19, 20 years old. They need as much support as the older veterans in society.
“We want the Hub to be the first port of call for the Armed Forces in our community whether they need help, or support or simply somewhere to find friendship or comradeship. Pop in for a coffee. Why not. We don’t charge.
“Our service is not limited to the veterans, our doors are open for their families, their friends, and indeed anyone wishing to support veterans and the Royal British Legion in Southport.
“Beyond that, our aim is to bring all of the organisations offering specific support for their veterans together to make sure we work together in tandem, to best support the needs of the community. That is why we have a lot of representatives of these agencies here today.
“The Hub is about to be registered as a Branch Community Support Centre, allowing us to offer signposting support and guidance for the veterans and the Armed Forces community.
“We will be the first branch in the country to offer the Royal British legion’s new Carer Support Group. Exciting times. This will be a drop-in session for anyone caring for a veteran, or any veterans who are caring for someone else.
“I would like to thank all the people who have got us here today.
“We have got a very active, strong, lively committee. A new committee which was brought together after 1st october that is determined to move forward and improve the support available for veterans in Southport. Thank you to all the members of the committee who have brought us this far.”
The unveiling of the plaque celebrating the opening of Southport Veterans Hub was carried out by Southport MP Damien Moore and Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Clare Carragher.
Damien Moore MP said: “It is with immense pleasure that I am here to celebrate with you the opening of this Southport Veterans Hub.
“Veterans are at the heart of our community. Today, with thanks to you, you have made this happen.
“The support you have given to veterans, to their families, and the wider community is absolutely vital.
“It is a great honour for me to be here today and actually see this new Southport Veterans Hub in action.”
Mayor of Sefton Cllr Clare Carragher said: “Since the closure of Byng House this is a much needed facility for Sefton veterans and their families to be able to connect with like minded people, discuss their fears and worries in a safe and secure place and to simply share stories with old friends.
“As we mark the 40 years anniversary this year of the Falklands War, this hub will be a great asset to those veterans and veterans from other conflicts around the world.
“We as a community need to do everything we can to support those who fought for us.
“This is a project very close to my heart as both my father and grandfather served and fought with the British Army. My grandfather suffered with what is now called PTSD after he returned home from Dunkirk, and received treatment for shell shock.
“Now that this hub is in the heart of Southport I ask the community to support them as much as you can. They served Queen and Country. Now it's our turn to serve them.”
Southport Veterans Hub is on Wesley Street, in Southport town centre. For more details please contact Southport Royal British Legion on: 01704 651947.