MORE than 900 Wiltshire-based military families with a relative in a caring role will be given extra support thanks to a new county-wide initiative.

Courage to Care, which was made possible by a £130,000 Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust grant and will be delivered by Carer Support Wiltshire (CSW), aims to identify carers and their families among the Services before they reach crisis point and supporting them via a network of trained carer support officers and volunteers within the military community.

According to the Army Welfare Service (AWS) and AFF, the majority of those looking after loved ones within the military community may not be aware that help is available or may not even consider themselves carers.

Among those is Andrew, who was medically discharged from the Army in 2009 with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He cares for his wife who has mental health and learning difficulties and has struggled to find work outside of the Forces due to his caring role and PTSD. CSW supported Andrew with housing issues, training, respite breaks and emotional support.

Jacqui Radford, CSW community connectors team lead, said: “We have a large community of military families in the county and we have been looking at ways to reach out to those among them who are carers and who need support.

“We are delighted that this Armed Forces Covenant Grant has enabled us to set up Courage to Care and we are looking forward to working with AWS and the bases themselves to identify carers, to offer support and to signpost them to other services available.”

Vicky Harker, AWS support officer, added: “I have no doubt that this project will significantly improve carer support provision within Wiltshire’s military community and I look forward to working with CSW.”

Under the Courage to Care programme, carer support workers and volunteers will work in close partnership with AWS, the Wiltshire HIVEs and Forces bases to raise awareness and help identify carers.

Employment and volunteer opportunities will be provided to help military carers develop transferable skills for use in future postings and in later civilian life. As well as on-base support and training, carers will be given access to services outside the military, which will also help improve links and communication between the Forces and civilian communities.

Tracy Park, CSW military carer support lead, said: “We are very excited to be launching Courage to Care and in the coming weeks will be looking for volunteers to help with the programme, ideally from the military community.”

CSW will be recruiting staff and volunteers for Courage to Care. If you are interested, contact Jacqui Radford or Tracy Park on 01380 871690.

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