Congleton-based charity Listening Out Loud Foundation (LOL) is stepping up efforts in 2018 to raise funds for the ex-servicemen they work with and hopes to send them on a life changing trip to Norway.
The foundation was established in 2012 to reduce poverty, distress and suffering experienced by homeless veterans and works to help them reintegrate themselves into civilian society.
“Our main focus is to provide a holistic approach to supporting the lads, promoting independence but at an individual pace,” explained founder Andrew Dolman-Bayley.
A veteran himself, Andrew understands first hand the reality of life after the forces and is keen to spread the word of the invaluable work they are doing in the region.
“We have received fantastic support from Cheshire East Council which has enabled us to offer a safe home to 12 ex-service personnel, and 4 more about to join us.
“It is almost impossible to imagine how frustrating veterans find it when trying to navigate the state system after fighting for their country.
“It is especially difficult if they are diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as they have often become alienated from friends and family with no job waiting for them. This is where we come in.”
Around 10% of the UK’s 250,000 people who find themselves homeless are ex-forces.
Since opening their doors in 2012 the LOL Foundation has given 87 ex-forces personnel a home and the offer of help they needed to regain their independence.
This is achieved through counselling to assist with psychological problems and addiction, support to overcome minor offences and to re-engage with families wherever possible as well as training for those without a trade and advice on how to find suitable employment.
A new scheme called ‘Adventure Training’ is currently under development by the charity and will provide opportunities to experience a number of different activities within a supportive environment in the great outdoors with a beneficial impact on health and wellbeing.
As part of this rehabilitation programme the LOL Foundation is planning a ten day trip to Norway in September for some of their residents.
Taking in 7 countries in 2 days, the team will drive across Europe to experience camping in extreme conditions and will challenge themselves to take on mountaineering, bouldering and climbing.
The trip offers a unique opportunity for the ex-servicemen to put the skills learnt in the forces to use and test their stamina and resilience.
Lisa Spencer, health and wellbeing trustee, commented: “Physical activity and exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety whilst improving concentration, focus, ability to sleep and boosting overall mood.
“Deliberate therapeutic use of natural environments including wild spaces can have both short and long term positive impact on mental health and life satisfaction.
“Positive social interaction and support are as critical to health as good diet and regular exercise.”
The charity prides itself on fundraising via events and community activity rather than approaching members of the public on the street.
With this in mind they are seeking to connect with businesses and organisations who may be able to help raise awareness of their work and funds to support their Norway trip as well as future events.
For more information, please visit www.lolfoundation.co.uk or call 01260 408 862.