On the streets of Wigan to follow lives of silent warriors

Mark Standish
Mark Standish

A soldier-turned-snapper is heading out onto the streets with his camera for a hard-hitting project depicting homeless veterans.

Mark Standish, from Pemberton, is embarking on Silent Warriors, a documentary series which he hopes will show the reality of those who have served on the frontline now sleeping rough.

Mark will start in Wigan and then spend a couple of days in different towns tramping the streets chronicling the tough lives of veterans and hopefully allowing them to tell their stories to the camera.

Mark is himself a former member of the armed forces, doing a tour of duty in Kosovo before leaving in 2001, and then battled post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for years before being able to set up his own business based around his talent for photography.

The 41-year-old said: “Homelessness for veterans is a massive problem throughout the country, not just in Wigan.

“I’ve been up and down with my mental health but I’m now getting medical support and advice and the guys at the new Wigan Borough Armed Forces Hub have really helped me.

Photography also helps with my PTSD, I get a lot of stress relief from it.

“I now want to give something back. I want to make people aware there are veterans on the streets.

“Helping other veterans helps me as well with my PTSD from when I served.

“It’s going to be a documentary series with video and some photography as well.

“I will walk the streets for 48 hours and chat to people I find who are veterans.

“I’m hoping they will tell their stories but I will have to feel my way and judge each interview because I don’t know their circumstances.

“It’s called Silent Warriors because often veterans don’t turn to anyone and go silent.”

Mark has so far released a 20-second trailer clip announcing the project online and has also created a Facebook page for Silent Warriors.

He is also hoping businesses might sponsor the ambitious scheme.

Mark started taking pictures while he was in the forces and after leaving took more and more pictures while building up his knowledge and equipment.

He turned his hobby into a profession about a year ago and now runs the business from a studio on the Crows Nest Business Park.

Soldiers returning from serving their country only to end up without a roof over their heads is currently a major issue and a number of organisations locally are working to ease the transition back to civvy street.

Mark, who served in the Royal Logistics Corps, says there are many reasons ex-personnel struggle after leaving the military.

He said: “Veterans are very proud and stubborn people, from my own perspective.

“It took me 18 years to speak to someone about my PTSD. It’s not easy for us to ask for help.

“I know personally I could have ended up in that situation quite easily.

“I’m normally quite a confident person but life and events change.”

For more information about the project visit https://m.facebook.com/SWarriorsWigan/