VIDEO: Help project launched for forces’ early leavers

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A new project aimed at helping former armed forces members who left early and are finding life tough has been launched in Sheffield.

Take2 is a new £50,000 scheme funded by the Ministry Of Defence to give a leg-up to people who left the armed forces and are attempting to reintegrate into society.

Richard Parker, former armed forces personnel and a project mentor, and Ruth Willis, CEO of SYCF

Richard Parker, former armed forces personnel and a project mentor, and Ruth Willis, CEO of SYCF

“People might leave the armed services for a number of reasons. It might not suit them, there might be pressure at home, or they might have a problem with drink or drugs,” said South Yorkshire Community Foundation chief executive Ruth Willis.

“There’s a slight disgrace associated with coming out of the army early, so I think people feel a bit like they have failed.

“We are hoping this will completely turn it around for them, boost their confidence and self esteem, and provide them with the tools they need to be a member of society.”

The programme is being delivered by the SYCF in partnership with Action Housing and MIND as well as Sheffield Council, and will focus on finding housing and employment.

Richard Parker, aged 42, from Heeley, served in the army for 21 years, but was blown up in Iraq.

He later ended up in prison for nine months for assault, but is hoping to use his experience to act as a mentor to people on the 12-month pilot project.

He said: “I suffered from night terrors, I had post traumatic stress, and I found I couldn’t live with my family any more. It was horrendous.

“I was attacked in a pub toilet. He came up from behind and my army training kicked in. But I got done for excessive self-defence.

“I have lived on both sides of the tracks and I want to help. I think Sheffield is a bit behind in its support for former personnel, given it’s one of the largest cities in England and there are a lot of ex-forces here.”

Steve Kirk, CEO of Barnsley and Rotherham MIND, said: “The people we think will join are aged between 16 and 25, because they are more likely to have joined the forces and not completed their four-year service, but anyone who comes along will find our support. Our role is to be there, whatever issues they encounter.”