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6 October 2016, 16:00
The world's first out of hours service supporting veterans across Norfolk and Waveney has launched.
Called the Veteran's Response Partnership the initiative sees a special response car manned by volunteers called out to ex-servicemen and women experiencing a mental health crisis out of hours.
It is being run by the Walnut Tree Project in collaboration with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, HMP Norwich, Veterans Norfolk and Outside the Wire, a charity which works with ex-military service personnel supporting veterans with bespoke substance misuse services.
The initiative has been made possible by the generosity of local businesses.
The project has been given permission to use the Britannia Veteran's Centre at the prison as a 24/7 base.
It will see volunteers who are themselves veterans or have experience of working in mental health or living with a condition called out to incidents. Working alongside specialist teams from NSFT, they will assess the individual and offer peer support, as well as helping them accessing other services which may be able to help. The overall aim is to keep veterans out of police cells and get them any further support they may need, such as help with housing or employment issues or drink or drug problems.
Veterans can sign up to the scheme themselves or register through another charity.
In Norfolk there is around 36,000 veterans.
Luke Woodley - who came up with the idea for the service - told Heart "We are delighted to launch this service, which will offer vital support to the veterans with mental health problems who are facing a crisis".