Image for Walking with the Wounded News - Prince Harry in Gateshead / (Prince Harry visiting Gateshead Head Start Beneficiaries
 - Walking with the Wounded Head Start Programme - Helping vulnerable veterans back into work by supporting mental health - WWTW - Combat Stress Charity

Prince Harry in Gateshead

Head Start beneficiaries in Gateshead told Prince Harry how Walking With The Wounded’s mental health support has improved their lives.

Today (Tuesday 21st February) Prince Harry spent time with military charity Walking With The Wounded to learn more about the work it is doing on providing specialist support to veterans at risk with mental health issues including those who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The event took place at midday at the Civic Centre in Gateshead.

His Royal Highness, who has been a supporter of the charity since it was established in 2010 met with beneficiaries of the charity, project leaders as well as members of Gateshead Council and the Police force, all whom Walking With The Wounded works with to maximise impact to the veteran. Key to the charity’s success in supporting those veterans most ‘at risk’ is its holistic approach and collaborative working with multiple organisations. Furthermore, the charity strives to intervene early in order to divert these men and women away from a downward spiral, where they are often lost.

Discussions included how Walking With The Wounded supports those ‘at risk’ so they can be a valued member of society and sustain their independence post military service providing long-term security for themselves and their families. This is done through access points to identify veterans and their range of needs, including those with mental health issues, those in police custody, those who are homeless, those with alcohol dependency as well as those requiring employment support. In many instances these needs overlap, demonstrating that to deliver positive outcomes which are sustainable, it’s crucial to provide a holistic approach rather than focussing on just one element of support.

Ed Parker, Co-Founder and CEO of Walking With The Wounded commented: “As a charity we believe too often mental health is seen in isolation and we are keen to show Prince Harry our work in highlighting how important it is to relate it to the wider care pathway.”

Prince Harry met three beneficiaries, all of whom have been supported by two of the charity’s key programmes, Head Start and Project Nova.

Walking With The Wounded’s Head Start programme exists to complement NHS and other Third Sector organisations in the provision of mental health support to ex-service personnel. Through a National network of accredited therapists, WWTW fund private face to face therapy for those with mild to moderate mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety or PTSD and adjustment disorder, including support for those who simultaneously misuse substances.

Head Start beneficiaries are referred into the programme via their GP, or other recognised healthcare professionals. The charity aims to allocate a client to a therapist within 10 working days of receiving consent and within 10 miles of their home.

Project Nova identifies and supports veterans caught up in a cycle of anti-social and criminal activity, to prevent a further downward spiral and continued offending by supporting them back into mainstream society and sustainable employment, with the aim of reducing the numbers of ex-servicemen and women who end up in prison.

Project Nova looks to identify and provide tailored support to this vulnerable veteran group and to make early interventions that, if not addressed, could lead to further deterioration of personal circumstance, resulting in possible loss of employment, relationship breakdown and a possible custodial sentence. We do this by changing offender behaviour and addressing the underlying issues that lead to re-offending.

The key to Project Nova’s success is the partnership with Police, NHS, other military charities, civilian support organisations and the veteran. Project Nova is underpinned by a holistic approach and collaborative working.

Walking With The Wounded is a member of Contact, a Charity Partner of Heads Together, the mental health campaign founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to change the national conversation around psychological problems. Contact is a collaboration of military charities, the NHS, the Ministry of Defence and top academics working together to make the most effective mental health support easily accessible to the Armed Forces community.