VETERANS and their families turned out in force to discuss how those who used to serve on the front line could be better helped in Leigh.
Around 80 people visited the Turnpike Centre to look at activities and services the town’s new Armed Forces Hub could provide.
The hub has been created through a partnership between Wigan Council and umbrella organisation Trust in Leigh and will also link together community groups helping ex-service personnel.
Organisers hope the hub will bring together and raise awareness of activities already running in Leigh such as a weekend breakfast club and a brunch club organised by Compassion in Action and also create new services for veterans.
Paul Costello, armed forces hub co-ordinator at Trust in Leigh, said: “It was an amazing and quite emotional meeting. One of the ex-servicemen shared his experiences with us and showed how much work we need to do to support people like him.
“The hub is just about bringing together all the ex-servicemen and women and their families. The event was a consultation really, seeing what they need and how best the borough could support them.
“As well as informing them what is available we want to know what they would like to see provided.
“It was the first time we did something like this so we weren’t sure how it would go but there was a great turnout and we’ve got social media profiles now so hopefully we can progress the organisation for the benefit of veterans.”
The hub has been put together with the help of town hall armed forces lead Linda Fisher, who also hailed the success of the launch.
Ms Fisher said: “The event was very successful and had great energy. There were so many people there from a wide range of organisations with commitment to helping improve services for armed forces personnel and veterans.
“There were veterans who received support and advice on the evening and we look forward to making a difference to many more in the years ahead.”
Paul hopes the services in Leigh will eventually resemble the more integrated approach to helping former military personnel in Leigh.
Future plans include rehab and physio sessions in the back room of Tyldesley’s Pelican Centre once it has been renovated and links with Grow for Giving at Tyldesley Allotments to develop a drop-in service and green activities.
Paul says he also hopes the hub will tackle some of the issues many veterans face, such as social isolation and readjusting to civilian life after years in the armed forces.
To find out more about the new hub, ring the Trust in Leigh office on 01942 829342 or visit www.facebook.com/TrustinLeighUK/