'Charlie Charlie 1' is home away from home for veterans in Bognor Regis
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Based out of 56a High Street, in Bognor Regis, the venue functions as a coffee shop, education centre and support base for all of the veterans in the Bognor Regis area. It was pitched as a town centre extension to the services already provided by the hugely successful Crimsham Farm, which runs veteran-led agricultural and fieldcraft workshops for SEND children in West and Sussex and beyond.
Organisers hope that their new town centre presence will make it even easier for veterans to find companionship, camaraderie and support from well-trained staff with similar backgrounds and, if Saturday’s turnout is any indication, it’s well on its way to doing just that.
‘Charlie Charlie 1’ is a military term for 'everyone’. Organisers picked the name because they wanted as many people as possible to feel welcome and, appropriately, Saturday’s opening day was well-attended by friends and family members of veterans, as well as the veterans themselves.
Many of those who turned out were already well known to Crimsham Farm volunteers. One visitor, Tony Nelson, had nothing but praise for everything Crimsham Farm has done. He served in Borneo and struggled to adjust to life on civvy street, but said the farm’s work turned his life around: “Before the farm, I just wouldn’t talk to anyone. It was really difficult because my family didn’t have their dad," he said.
"The people here are like family. You can talk to anyone here about anything and they listen to you, it’s just a wonderful sense of community.”
He’s equally optimistic about the future of the centre, adding: “The bigger and bigger this place gets, the better. The more people that know, the more they can help. And they’ve gone from strength to strength so far; it’s just brilliant, I can’t explain it.”
Manager Shane Glasspool, a veteran himself, said he hopes to continue that forward momentum, and that Charlie Charlie One is the first of many good things to come: “We just wanted somewhere people could come that would give them easier access to support, referrals and therapy. But the eventual hope is to outgrow this place and move somewhere even bigger, to go somewhere that will let us do even more.”