ARMED forces veterans are to benefit from an uplift in support thanks to the Saints Community Development Foundation.

The Veterans of The Foundation HQ has been launched, allowing current provision to be increased for existing members and new ones.

Benefits include access to specialist support, social opportunities and storage facilities.

Steve Leonard, Saints Community Development Foundation director, said: "The provision and opening of the Veterans of the Foundation HQ is a massive step forward for the foundation.

"I promised the expansion to the veterans and now we are in a position to deliver."

He explained what the HQ will be offering to veterans.

"It means that straight away we will be expanding the breakfast club to three mornings a week including the weekend which will allow us to embrace the working veterans who are unable to attend during the week," he said.

“We will have the ability to expand our wrap around services to the individuals who need our support, and moreover offer them to more veterans.

"We already have a wide support network of specialists and partners who enable us to provide these services and we will be able to provide further safe and comfortable surroundings for one-to-one support meetings and group sessions.

“It also means that the veterans have a home for all their equipment for the wide and varying array of programmes and hobbies they partake in.

“Also expanding on the mental health support by providing hands-on therapy in such areas as our allotments and assisting the friends of St Helens Cemetery.

"Finding more programmes to get our veterans involved including a new bikes programme, expanding our camping and fishing clubs. Rekindling the fishing matches against our friends and rivals from the Wigan Veterans hub and boat trips on lake Windermere are all in the pipeline once we get the green light to go.

“The ladies of the veterans will be assisting in our general expansion by supporting our In League with Women’s programme. They will be offering open weekly craft sessions to the women in our area and will be covering a wide variety of crafts."

He added: “My worry was always how long did it take someone to pluck up the courage to walk through the door and say I need help. To then be given a business card or leaflet and told to 'ring them', this was more than likely not what the individual had hoped to hear.

“To have someone to respond with 'sit down, have a cuppa, and someone will be along in a few minutes' is more likely to provide the response that all those days, weeks or months of deliberation had been craving for.

"We are now in a position to say this with the confidence that we can provide such a service to the veterans of our own community.”

He continued: “We will be taking our veterans as far along the road as they wish to go, by offering support in education and training; building confidence, resilience and self-esteem; working alongside current partners to gain employment or a change in career; or just to provide a club where they can enjoy their retirement in the company of comrades to talk over past experiences with a brew and a smile.”

Leonard said a lot of people and much effort had gone into getting this new offering to the position it is now.

“I would like to thank the directors of the club, Mike Rush the club's CEO, the Trustees of the Foundation, and to all of our Veterans of The Foundation volunteers for believing in my vision and helping it come to fruition, without whom none of this would be possible,” he said.