North East Derbyshire District Council extends its offer of commitment to Armed Forces Veterans by supporting the Chesterfield Community FC Trust initiative ‘Buddy Buddy’.
'Buddy Buddy' see’s military veterans get together to establish new friendship groups and access support and help after leaving the Armed Forces.
The initiative is designed to help veterans in the area the group meet up on the last Thursday of every month at 6 pm at Chesterfield Football Club, where’re there is usually a guest speaker, light refreshments and support groups in attendance.
The Trust’s Oli Barnes, who is a veteran himself and was instrumental in setting up the initiative, says: “The programme is designed to help veterans in the area. Buddy Buddy is a term used in the military to say, ‘I’ve got your back’, it’s all about making sure that everyone is ok and nobody gets left behind, it’s maintaining that essential core of military service, which is ‘we are all there for one another.”
"Veterans often leave the military and step away from all things ex-service, and after a while, they realise things are different, some people adjust easily and others really struggle, either way, Buddy Buddy is here for everyone.”
“There are many excellent organisations that can offer help to ex-service personnel, regimental associations, Help For Heroes, The Royal British Legion, and many others, but Buddy Buddy is a less formal group that just wants to offer the comradeship that so many veterans miss on leaving service.”
“We try and do this by creating a space that provides people with informal support but offer signposting if it’s required. When I left the services, I felt a bit lost and didn’t know what to do so we wanted to create a group to help and provide a safe time and space for people. It’s all about getting people together to have a laugh and a joke with each other, which is so important.”
In November last year, one of the groups original members, Gary Platts, gave a talk on his recent experience of returning to the Falkland Islands forty years after his time there during the Falkland’s Conflict with Argentina.
Gary said, “The group is the ideal place for someone like me, who although I’ve been left from the military for 35 years still miss some aspects of it, the banter, the camaraderie, and friendship only military folks can bring. This talk was a perfect example of talking about some difficult experiences and knowing people in the room were right in that same place, sharing my distress, understanding my survivor guilt, and discussing challenging situations that sometimes only people who have seen or been in combat can understand.
It was not an easy topic for me, but usually these are the most essential ones to raise. Really key was the number of people who came up to me after and identified the very same feelings I’d mentioned; this is an absolutely critical aspect of sharing stories, feelings, and concerns in a group where everyone has their oppo’s back, for me it really helped in laying some ghosts to rest.”
“It definitely helped me discussing this with fellow veterans and it’s not just about conflicts or war zones, it’s also about rekindling those links with others who have also left something behind.”
North East Derbyshire District Council has supported the group by promoting details on the website, on social media and in their Armed Forces Community Newsletter and bulletins. The group also received a Community Action Grant to support the start-up of the group.
The Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Martin Thacker MBE JP said, “We are committed to helping our Armed Forces veterans wherever we can and are forever indebted to them for their services in the forces. Life after the military can be hard for people to adjust to and we want to let everyone know we are here to help with support and guidance for you every step of the way, as are many other partners and organisations who can help.”
The next event is at the Chesterfield Stadium on Thursday 30th March, 18:00 to 20:00 at Chesterfield FC Community Trust, the HUB, Technique Stadium, 1866 Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, S41 8NZ.
Pictured, Gary Platts, Armed Forces Veteran.