Located at The Bridge Café in Church Walk, the veteran drop-in will take place every Monday morning between 10am to 12:30pm (except bank holidays) and will bring together the veteran community of Crawley and Horsham.
In partnership with St John’s Church, the breakfast club aims to help veterans of The Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force adjust to civilian life by providing help with mental health, job prospects and offers a place for people to feel a part of something.
With the club, there is a big focus on helping current and ex-servicemen who are suffering from PTSD and may find themselves homeless because of it.
At the official opening, which was attended by ex-servicemen and guests, two cheques were presented to the breakfast club on the day, which was followed by tea, coffee and light refreshments for all who attended.
Sean Taylor accepted a cheque for £464.18 on behalf of Walking With The Wounded and Colin Agius from Royal British Legion Riders accepted a cheque for £464.18 on behalf of PTSD Resolution.
It was interesting to hear old war stories from the veterans, while getting an insight into why the breakfast club is important to them.
Ex Army and Police officer Mr Agius said: “It’s good to see things like this, the breakfast club working in conjunction with SSAFA and other veteran organisations.
“It’s quite surprising to see how many veterans live in Crawley and the surrounding areas who are in need of help and assistance.
“Once you come out of the forces, you can feel a bit isolated and alone. Our support group gives our veterans a sense of belonging.
“Everytime we have one of our breakfast meets there are more people turning up.”
Organiser of the event Paul Gooderson said: “The idea is that it’s an opportunity for veterans to drop in on a Monday between 10am to 12:30pm and to meet like minded people.
“In addition we are supported by a number of charities including Royal British Legion, Age Concern UK, PTSD resolution and many more.”
Veteran Derek Kennedy, who travels from the Isle of Sheppey to attend the club said: “The club is important to me. The support that the club provides is very strong on the welfare side of things.
“The club is here for anybody who needs assistance or just an ear to talk to. Very thorough.
“It’s sometimes hard for veterans to make the first step, but once they start talking issues can be identified and signposted.”
“We work with veterans with PTSD, but we also provide help with CV writing, interview skills and using the welfare system.
“A lot of the homeless community are veterans- some out of choice, some by circumstance. You hand your uniform in but you don’t really leave the army.
“It’s hard for some people to adjust to civilian life. The club helps integrate veterans back into society.”
If you would like to find out more, please visit: https://stjohnscrawley.com/153/The-Bridge-Cafe