Mental health support at Catterick Garrison in jeopardy as Dan Jarvis throws weight behind campaign

Dan Jarvis has thrown himself behind a campaign to save mental health support for veterans at Catterick Garrison.

Along with three other charities across the UK which provide nearly 1000 supported spaces for veterans, Riverside has written to the Treasury seeking urgent financial support. Photo: PA

Charity Riverside runs housing and mental health support for veterans with complex needs including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the Beacon, a specialist service based at the garrison in North Yorkshire.

But the tailored mental health support is set to end later this month as funding runs out.

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While the Beacon will remain open as a housing unit, the charity has warned the mental health support that comes with being allocated a flat will come to an end on September 30.

Some 20 veterans currently live at the Beacon.

Along with three other charities across the UK which provide nearly 1000 supported spaces for veterans, Riverside has written to the Treasury seeking urgent financial support.

Dan Jarvis, the Labour metro mayor for South Yorkshire and Barnsley MP, himself a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the government has a “moral duty” to support veterans through services such as the Beacon.

He said: “The professionalism and dedication shown by our Armed Forces during the evacuation of Afghanistan underlines the debt we owe those who put their lives on the line for us.

“If we can afford to send our troops on operations, then we can afford to look after them when they come home.

“The government has a moral obligation to support our veterans ─ that means ensuring everyone who chose to put on uniform has a roof over their heads.

“Warm words aren’t going to cut it.”

Lee-Buss Blair, director of operations and veteran’s lead at Riverside, spent six years in the 17th/21st Lancers where he saw active service in the first Gulf War, before going on to see active service in the conflict in Bosnia.

He said: "Over the past few years we have lost nearly all government funding for veteran specific supported housing.

"As a result of this we are becoming significantly less able to house veterans with higher needs, addictions, poor mental health, or disability.

"If this continues, we are very concerned about our ability to resource veterans’ services safely, and the significant risk of collapse of the majority of supported housing services for veterans.”

Overall, between 2012 and 2021, statutory Government funding for the Beacon reduced by 79 per cent, and grant funding has reduced to zero.

Nine positions have been lost in the past decade as funding from the Richmondshire District Council reduced.

Just eight members of staff now remain whose roles will continue after September 30th to manage housing.

A government spokesperson said: "Our serving armed forces and veterans represent the very best of us.

"Veterans in England can access specialist support from Op COURAGE, the dedicated veterans mental health service.

“In addition to the £20M allocated to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and nearly £18M spent on veteran specific mental health support this year, we have announced a further £5M of support for the military charity sector.

"Veterans can also receive preferential access to social housing. We are in contact with the charity to understand their concerns and signpost them to potential funding."