THIS Armed Forces Week, NHS staff in Cheshire and Wirral are being urged to help more ex-Forces patients to transform their lives with employment support from a veterans charity.

The Poppy Factory has helped more than 100 veterans in the first year of three regional pilots, with 45 veterans finding work so far. The NHS funds its employment consultants to deliver employment support for veterans with health conditions in Cheshire and Wirral, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

Former soldiers, like David Jones, who was supported to find a new role with Wirral Borough Council, say that a referral to The Poppy Factory can provide them with a route into a role that suits them.

"I was being treated by the NHS for sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, mental health and other conditions. Then my GP told me about The Poppy Factory. I went to see my employment consultant, Andrew, a few times and things quickly started to happen. He helped me to stop worrying.

"Now I work for Wirral Borough Council as an Adaptation Technical Assistant, fitting handles and rails for people who have disabilities or have difficulty moving around. It’s very rewarding to be able to make a difference to people’s lives."

Alongside those who have moved into paid work, others have been supported to take up opportunities in education, training and volunteering.

Free one-to-one guidance is offered throughout each veteran’s journey towards employment, helping them overcome barriers and make positive life changes. Regular check-ins show they are building confidence, developing skills and experience and improving their health and wellbeing.

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: "Connecting with NHS partners has helped us reach many veterans who would not otherwise have found our employment service.

"During Armed Forces Week, we are urging NHS staff to help ex-Forces patients by making a simple referral. In doing so, they will begin a journey that can lead to huge improvements in veterans’ mental health and wellbeing."

Tim Welch, Chief Executive at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "As a veteran-aware organisation, it brings us enormous pride to be involved in this incredibly worthwhile initiative to support our veterans in finding employment.

"One of our key values at the Trust is to help people be the best they can be and this absolutely includes those who have been involved in our armed forces. Since we began our work with The Poppy Factory more than 40 ex-service personnel have been supported.

"Employment is vital to people’s feeling of social inclusion and we are delighted to work with The Poppy Factory to provide person-centred support to ex-servicemen and women."

To register or to refer a veteran, visit