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Submariners ‘surface’ to put spotlight on FirstLight

By Ron Gordon

IN EARLY 2021 the Gosport Branch of the Submariners Association decided to sponsor a local charity.

Members agreed that it was a great way to achieve one of the objectives in its Branch Management Guidelines – “To promote the branch within the local community”.

They were asked to suggest a worthwhile charity and after trawling through several very good suggestions, FirstLight Trust was chosen. Although FirstLight is a national charity it has one of its five café hubs in Gosport.

FirstLight Trust provides the right support at the right time for those having trouble when leaving the services and moving into civilian life. Access to support can be difficult for some but their café hubs look like an everyday café ensuring that no stigma is attached when walking through their doors.

They also provide lots of outdoor activities including allotments and cycling and the chance for veterans to develop new skills in their kitchen with culinary cooking classes.

From coffee and chat to model club they aim to cover an array of activities for veterans of the Armed Forces and emergency services and their families to break down the barriers of isolation and loneliness.

Support can vary to each person’s needs from financial assistance to housing that can affect mental health and finding a suitable positive support pathway that they will not walk on their own. The following case study, one of many successes, is a very good example of the work they do.

Veteran X came to the hub to socialise and take part in activities. It was soon discovered that this veteran was homeless and needing help with finding somewhere to live and claim benefits.

FirstLight worked with local housing authorities and social services and helped the veteran secure a property. Veteran X now has a doctor and dentist and is taking part in weekly activities. Veteran X is settled and has gone on to hold a volunteer role within the community.

Veteran X stated that, without the support of FirstLight Trust, they don’t think they would be here today.

At the September meeting the branch presented a cheque for £900 to FirstLight.

Hector MacCallum, on the right of the photograph, initially proposed FirstLight as the Branch Charity and was also a major contributor to the fund when he rode the Scottish North Coast 500, which was a great achievement, especially for a veteran.

Also in the picture are our President Chris Groves, our Chairman Steve Thorpe and Riah and Sam from the FirstLight Trust in Gosport.