This award honours a person or team that has demonstrated a major commitment and contribution in support of the physical or mental welfare of serving or former members of the Armed Forces community. This may be through healthcare, therapeutic treatment or rehabilitation services and support.
This award is generously sponsored by Redwood Technologies Group. Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO, said:
“Redwood Technologies Group is proud to continue to sponsor the Healthcare and Rehabilitation Award category. In my role as a judge for the awards, I have been truly inspired by the nominations put before us and the selfless dedication of each of the finalists. The Healthcare and Rehabilitation finalists have all demonstrated their outstanding commitment to ensuring that support is available to all those who have served us and require assistance in their time of need.”
The Finalists for the Healthcare & Rehabilitation Award are:
Edward Dean – Anxious Minds
Eddie Dean served 22 years in the infantry plus nine years delivering training for Afghanistan. But afterwards, he suffered a nervous breakdown, clinical depression and complex PTSD. Eddie struggled to find support for his mental health and found himself divorced and living in a caravan.
After he received help from SSAFA and his Regimental Association, Eddie pledged to improve mental health support in the North East. True to his word, in 2015, using his war pension and the little savings he had, he founded Anxious Minds. He has since raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to improve mental health services in the North East.
Five years on, Anxious Minds is a multi-award winning mental health charity providing early intervention and long-term support for people struggling with mental health. It supports thousands of veteran families with quick access into areas including alcohol reduction support, debt management, family law, crisis management and suicide prevention.
“Anxious Minds has achieved both local and national recognition, receiving praise from the Prime Minister for its work with veterans.”
Anxious Minds is the largest provider of counselling services outside of the NHS in the North East, with 70+ counsellors and psychotherapists supporting thousands of people each year. It provides jobs for 11 employees and volunteer placements for over 200 trainee counsellors; these dedicated staff and volunteers supported over 2000 people throughout the pandemic offering remote counselling, telephone and online support.
“Eddie still works for the charity as volunteer Chief Officer and has never taken a penny for his work.
He has achieved all of this, including opening five centres providing counselling, psychotherapy and addiction support, whilst managing his own complex issues.”
Nikki McCartney – Who Dares Cares
Nikki joined the charity Who Dares Cares when it began in 2016, and her impact has been enormous. She saves veterans lives – not only through immediate intervention and directing emergency services to suicidal casualties, but in a hundred small ways too, from arranging accommodation, filling in forms, organising food parcels and sourcing essential household items.
Nikki is at the end of the phone or responding on Facebook at all hours. She listens to harrowing stories, helps sufferers understand that their feelings are a normal reaction to the environments they’ve been exposed to, helps them understand that this can change, signposts coping strategies and referral pathways and delivers ongoing emotional support.
“Nikki throws herself into many of the different aspects of the charity. As well as being a full time nurse, she devotes every spare moment of her time to supporting others.”
As a full time mental health professional, Nikki provides face to face support for severely ill and vulnerable people. She also runs online peer support for almost 200 PTSD sufferers, and her accredited AET training enables her to train trainers to deliver the PTSD and Alcohol Awareness sessions that she has designed.
In addition, Nikki also organises all aspects of the charity’s fundraising activities, and attends the events to provide emotional support where needed.
“At a time when the entire country is at a mental low and the charity is suffering from virtually no funding but has witnessed cases increase around 100 per cent, Nikki epitomises the word lifesaver. She typifies the British spirit that will see us come through the other side intact and stronger.”
Jason Stevens, CEO of Veterans’ Growth, is a former Army soldier. He was medically discharged from the MOD in 2016 after a stroke left him with disabilities and PTSD.
During his rehabilitation, Jason spent many hours gardening in Headley Court and recognised the benefits of horticulture for mental health. He subsequently opened a plant shop in Hastings with his business partner, Sarah Wilson. Mindful of the increasing number of veterans taking their own lives, and the proven benefits of horticultural therapy, they set up Veterans’ Growth in December 2019.
Veterans’ Growth offers horticultural training to veterans, including habitat construction for birds and insects, planting and harvesting. There’s also animal husbandry, using two pigs that were saved from slaughter during lockdown.
“Veterans gain in self-confidence from attending the courses, and report improved mental health, happiness and resilience. Attendees also learn new skills, independent living, and healthy eating.”
With a five-acre plot near Hastings that is partially cared for by volunteers, Jason and Sarah often work seven days a week to run the charity. Despite lockdown, Veterans’ Growth supported 56 veterans in 2020 as they delivered training online and dispatched ‘Grow At Home Kits’ in order to avoid breaks in support.
The impact to the veteran community has been immense. In addition to providing a non-judgemental and good-humoured environment, Veterans’ Growth has provided one homeless veteran with on-site accommodation, and successfully secured funds to renovate accommodation for another veteran. It is one of the few charities to accept self-referrals, and receives referrals from the NHS and local charities, including SSAFA and RBL.
“The charity is literally ‘best in its field’!”