Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant helps bring community together
A unique project in Pembroke Dock ‘Tackling Loneliness’ is bringing the local community together with veterans.
An Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant of £20,000, in collaboration with the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, has funded a Peer Mentor, who supports many people, not just veterans, at its former Catholic school site.
The funding also allowed the continuation of weekday Naafi breaks where participants can chat and enjoy the company of other veterans.
There is a focus on older veterans living in the local area, but all ages and people from all walks of life are now involved.
Peer mentor Kevin Stanley, a Royal Navy veteran, offers support in accessing digital platforms, paperwork, referrals, housing and benefits as well as a “friendly ear.”
As well as this support there are around 26 activities on offer throughout the week, ranging from knitting to IT skills.
Steph Cross, VC Gallery Project Manager, said what’s unique at the Pembroke Dock centre is how closely residents and veterans support each other, “they merge so well,” she added.
A food poverty grant has allowed for a weekly lunch to be offered, and this has been increasing in popularity, and the centre saw more than 450 people attending throughout May.
Volunteers prepare the lunch and The VC Gallery works closely with PAVS to find people willing to volunteer for activities and lunches, with around 4,000 hours given across the organisation this year.
The Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant distributes funds raised by Second Homes Tax for new projects to help address the negative impact of second homes and add value to communities.
“The VC Gallery is run as a community hub, supporting veterans and the community – it’s a big project. PATCH and Frame are use rooms here as well. We have around 1,000 engagements a month, lots of different people and these people probably wouldn’t have crossed paths necessarily,” Steph added.
Cabinet Member for Corporate Improvement and Communities Cllr Neil Prior said: “The Enhancing Pembrokeshire grants can make a real difference to communities, supporting a wide range of projects and schemes. I would encourage anyone working in their communities to find out more about what’s available.”
Armed Forces Champion Cllr Simon Hancock added: “It was inspiring to see the work being done in Pembroke Dock at The VC Gallery. The support for both veterans and residents is something to be proud of.”
More information about the Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant and its five well-being objectives is available on the Pembrokeshire County Council website. You can contact the Regeneration Team on 01437 775536 or via firstname.lastname@example.org to register your project and apply for an Expression of Interest form.
Armed Forces Covenant Liaison Officer, Hayley Edwards emphasised the vital work that the VC Gallery does for Veterans and the Armed Forces Community.
She added: “The VC Gallery is the cornerstone for support for our veterans in Pembrokeshire. The great work that Kevin does as the Armed Forces Peer Mentor is vital for our Veterans wellbeing quality of life.’’
More information about the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust can be found online.
Pictured at The VC Gallery in Pembroke Dock are Steph Cross and Kevin Stanley, Cllr Simon Hancock, Hayley Edwards with Veterans and visitors to the centre.