Christmas is exciting for many. But it can be one of the loneliest and most challenging times of the year for our armed forces community.

Help is on hand for our veteran and armed forces community who may be struggling with loneliness, being separated from loved ones or adapting to civilian life, all of which could affect their mental health.

Because of the unique obligations and personal sacrifices armed forces personnel make, a range of forces-friendly, 24-hour helplines are on standby during the festive period.

Councillor Barry Durkin, Herefordshire’s armed forces covenant partnership chairman, says: 

“I’d like to wish all our local armed forces community a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. However, I’m aware that the festive period can be really tough and sometimes triggering, particularly for those who are struggling with isolation or mental health concerns.

“As many of our local charities and services take a short break over the festivities, it is important that our armed forces community know that additional support is available around the clock. It is essential that no-one should feel isolated, or continue to experience worries that can be helped, so whatever the issue might be please do reach out for help; there is someone who will understand.”

National helplines for the armed forces community

Op Courage (NHS veteran mental health line) = 24 hours call: 0300 323 0137

Samaritans (military and armed forces community support) = 24 hours call: 116 123

Or download the Samaritans Veteran app to your mobile device

Combat Stress = 24 hours call: 0800 138 1619

Veterans Gateway = 24 hours call: 0808 802 1212

SSAFA Forcesline = Call: 0800 731 4880 – Available 9:00 – 17.30, Monday – Friday

Royal British Legion = Call: 0808 802 8080 – Available 8:00 – 20:00, seven days a week

Local support is available either side of the festive break from our armed forces charities:

Herefordshire Veteran Support Centre, 19 West Street, Hereford. Please note, the centre will be closed from 23 December 2023 and will re-open on Wednesday 3 January 2024 when normal opening times resume (Mon / Wed / Fri 9am to 5pm)

First Light Trust Café, 41-43 Broad Street, Hereford. Please note, the Café will close Saturday 23 December from midday and open again on 27 December. Closed on 1 January 2024.

SSAFA Herefordshire will respond as soon as practicable throughout the festive period. Please call 01432 273932. Alternatively please call the SSAFA West Midlands helpline direct on 020 4566 9116, or email

For those who find themselves having to sleep rough over the winter months Herefordshire Council have opened an emergency winter shelter that will run throughout the winter months, in partnership with other organisations. A warm safe space will be available between 8pm and 8am daily. Advice and assistance is available from Herefordshire Council’s outreach team who can be contacted at Blueschool House, Blueschool Street, Hereford during office hours or by calling 01432 261600 (ask to speak to a member of the Rough Sleeper Outreach Team).

If you have concerns that someone may be sleeping rough and in need of professional support members of the public can contact StreetLink. This will send a notification directly to the Rough Sleeper Outreach Team who will be able to take appropriate action.

In addition, there is also a range of local advice and support to help keep people warm, well and safe at Keeping well in winter – Talk Community Directory

For further information, please look at our Support for our Armed Forces community page –