Veterans Outreach Support (Portsmouth)

Veterans Outreach Support (Portsmouth)

Drop in Centre

1400 - 1900 1st Wednesday of the Month

In July 2008, Dr Morgan O’Connell [recently Chief Consultant Psychiatrist to Combat Stress] and John “Joe” Erskine [SSAFA – Forces Help (Portsmouth)], together with David Watts, [General Manager of The Royal Maritime Club], put together a “Veterans Outreach Support” programme for ALL Ex-Service Veterans and/or Family Members of Veterans. (David Watts retired in Feb 2009 but the current General Manager John Alderson is keen to carry on supporting the project)

The venue is The Royal Maritime Club (formerly The Royal Sailors Home Club), Queen Street, Portsmouth - between 2pm and 7pm on the first Wednesday of every month. VOS (P) have Country Membership of the Club. Accommodation is available in the Club for anyone attending the programme, why not stay a few days and make a break of it. Royal Maritime Club You must quote “Outreach at agreed Members Rates” when booking or you may be refused accommodation as a non member.

It is a "Drop in Centre" where ANY Veteran - or family member of a Veteran - can come for an individual private chat with the Psychiatrist (Morgan O'Connell), and/or his Therapist. The term Veteran means all Ex- Armed Forces (plus - Merchant Navy [MN], Royal Fleet Auxiliary [RFA], Navy Army and Air Force Institute [NAAFI] Staff and Locally Entered Personnel [LEPs] - who served in War / Conflict Zones)

The Drop in Centre is supported by the following Ex-Service & Civilian Agencies (if available on the day):-

• The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmens Families Association - Forces Help
[SSAFA - Forces Help]

• The Royal British Legion [RBL]
(Welfare Officer + Tribunal Representative + CAB Debt Advisers)

• Combat Stress [The Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society]

• The Services Personnel and Veterans Agency [SPVA]
(Welfare - War Pension/AF Compensation etc.)

• Shaw Trust

• The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust [RNBT]

• The British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association [BLESMA]

• The Royal Air Forces Benevolent Fund [RAFBF] (non attending)

• The Army Benevolent Fund [ABF] (non attending)

• The National Gulf Veterans and Families Benevolent Association [NGVFA]
(non attending)

Any Veteran, or Family Member of a Veteran, can drop in, just for a confidential chat with the Doctor or the Therapist, AND/OR for advice from the Agencies AND/OR to take the opportunity to meet up with other Vets and have a chinwag, maybe a meal in the restaurant and/or a few drinks in the bar. Use the time to arrange to meet other Vets there to have a social afternoon /evening in an informal friendly atmosphere amongst friends, if you wish. It is not intended to hold any sort of group sessions; unless a particular group of individual Veterans request one and that session will be private and confidential to that group.

If any Veteran, or Family Member of a Veteran, wishes to attend privately just to have a chat with the Doctor or the Therapist, they may do so by just coming along OR by ringing Dr Morgan O'Connell on 01329 834512 to make a specific appointment. If you get the answering machine then PLEASE leave your name and number and Morgan will get back to you within 48 hours. This is his office telephone at his private practice and it is only manned three days a week.

PLEASE NOTE that this programme will be subject to change as the programme evolves.
The programme has been running now since July 2008 and is going from strength to strength. We are talking with TRBL, SSAFA and Combat Stress with a view to them jointly taking our model and rolling it out across the UK.


This is interesting, and good news that it's going from strength to strength, so good luck. Long overdue, too. Had no idea about this project and looking forward to it rollin g out further afield. Put me down to make the brews :wink: .

Is there scope for guidance workers and keyworking btw?
Tremaine said:
This is interesting, and good news that it's going from strength to strength, so good luck. Long overdue, too. Had no idea about this project and looking forward to it rollin g out further afield. Put me down to make the brews :wink: .

Is there scope for guidance workers and keyworking btw?
H Tremaine.

It is very much still in the developing stages at present but nothing is ruled out. No doubt things will be tweaked if and when it is adopted by TRBL, SSAFA and Combat Stress which is Morgan's and My vision.

Not quite sure what you mean by Guidance workers and keyworkers in the contaxt of the above programme.

It is something that was set up initially to support a local group of Falkland Vetearns on their return from the 2007 Pilgrimage and snowballed from there as the need was identified.
VOS(P) is going from strength to strength and we get an average of 27 visitors at each drop in now. We have got more and more people and agencies involved, As well as the RBL County Welfare Officer attending the RBL also have a Tribunal Appeal Officer and the Local RBL Sponsored CAB advisor in attendance every month. The two BLESMA area reps for the South are invloved. On the Mental Health side Morgan now has two therapists who assist him. All agencies are well in demand every month in fact we are in danger of being swamped on some months.

A new group is to be set up in Maidstone, Kent and we have had a visit from them. Hopefully their inaugural meeting will be in February 2011.

We are still hopeful that the main RBL/ SSAFA and Combat Stress will take hold of our model but these wheels turn slowly.
Just a quick update as a lot of things have been going on since I last posted in this thread.

We are now a registered Company and a registered Charity and operate as Veterans Outreach Support in our own right as coming under SSAFA/RBL/Combat Stress combined banner did not work out.

As a result we made a successful bid for LIBOR funding which we received and David Cameron announced it personally on Armed Forces Day in June from Afghanistan. We also had £5K from Seafarers UK and £5K from the RN & RM Charity in advance of this announcement to get us started on converting the old galley at the Royal Maritime Club into an Office and Consultation Room as our new Head Office. The LIBOR Funding of £414K will allow us to pay the clinicians for therapy sessions outside of the VOS Drop In day which all concerned attend Pro Bono. This will free up the Drop In for New Users as we were getting swamped every month with over 40 Service Users attending for either therapy or to see the Agencies. The Office Managers wages are also included in this funding. We now have to stride to attract funding to sustain VOS after this initial 2 year period of funding. Next year we will be in a position to roll VOS out Nationally.

We have a holding website at - keep your eye on it as it will be replaced by a new fully swept up website in the next few weeks. All Agencies involved will have their own page stating what they offer on a drop in day.

The next VOS Drop in at Portsmouth is on Wednesday 4th December 2013 from 1400 to 1900.

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