Herefordshire Veteran Support Centre (HVSC) provides a one-stop-shop for advice, information and support to veterans, serving personnel, family members and carers. The centre manager is joined and supported by key partners SSAFA, Help for Heroes, AgeUKH&W, Defence Medical Welfare Service and YSS Remember Veterans.
The HVSC was the result of a successful application by Herefordshire Council to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust fund for pilot veteran hub funding. A working group from the Herefordshire Armed Forces Covenant Partnership was set up to scope what was required in Herefordshire and funding was awarded in March 2018. It took a long time to find suitable premises and recruitment to the Centre Manager took place in April 2019.
Located in West Street in Hereford City, the HVSC centre opened four months before the Covid-19 pandemic reared its head. It got off to a great start with plenty of interest and support but when the health crisis kicked in, the centre had to close. Undeterred, the Centre Manager and Defence Medical Welfare Service Officer along with other veterans volunteered immediately to provide a vital resource to the armed forces community, organising food parcels and shopping and prescription pick ups to vulnerable veterans.
This approach has turned into a more formal veteran to veteran project supported by the Covenant Trust Fund. The Centre is therefore looking for both additional veteran volunteers and also encouraging veterans to be identified or come forward if they are feeling lonely and isolated and needing a friendly ear to listen to them or help provide any other support.
Current grant funding from the Covenant Trust fund for the HVSC Manager and a Volunteer Support Officer through the Force for Change priority funding will end shortly for the staff but will seamlessly lead into another scheme for the Tackling Loneliness priority which extends the centre manager’s post until 31st March 2023.
The Centre itself has also now achieved Charitable Status and the Trustees are working hard to take the Centre and its partners forward to ensure this service remains available for all of Herefordshire’s armed forces community.
In April 2021, the centre appointed Sean Gane as the new Veteran Support Centre Manager. Being a veteran himself, Sean brings first-hand knowledge, understanding and empathy to the centre and is passionate about supporting other veterans and anyone with connections to the military who may require company and support.
Sean has a wealth of ideas to improve the centre’s services further and to generate greater interest in the site so it can help more people. One feature Sean would like to see implemented is the running of regular art groups, exhibitions, and promotions to help create interest as well as the introduction of a hotdesking opportunity. A workstation at the office is available for organisations supporting the military to use.
“The centre is built on trust and an overriding ethos to get it right so that we can benefit anyone and everyone who comes through the door,” said Sean Gane.
The HVSC is currently operating under a ‘soft open’ and is open by invitation only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 to 17:00.
23rd July there is a re-opening, you will be able to pop by our one stop shop located in Hereford City Centre, 19 West St, Hereford HR4 0BX.