Outside the wire

Published on: 1 September 2018

Recently, it has been recognised that some active and veteran service personnel have been affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Biddy Collyer found out more about a local charity that offers support.

One way of coping with the distress that PTSD brings is to self-medicate using alcohol and drugs. This may help in the short-term, but its effects can cause havoc for those suffering and their families. Outside The Wire is the only organisation that combines support for both. Most of the team are ex-service personnel. Not only do they understand, they also speak the lingo; very important when you are building trust with clients.

Started in June 2013, Outside The Wire is part of The Matthew Project, a Norfolk-wide charity with a Christian ethos. The manager is Wayne Copsey, who served in the RAF Regiment for 23 years, joining at 18.He saw active service in Northern Ireland, the first Gulf War and Kosovo, so knows at first hand the impact such a life has had, on both him and his family. Wayne says his passion for the work comes from wanting to give something back.

It can be difficult for those currently serving to admit that there is something wrong, so referrals often come via the anonymity of the website or through agencies such as SSAFA, The Royal British Legion, and the NHS. Families can be the first to realise there is a problem, so they can get in contact directly.

Outside The Wire acts as a bridge to specialist support offered by organisations such as Combat Stress, with access to a six-week treatment programme. They will continue to offer confidential support afterwards, knowing that episodes of PTSD can reoccur.

Main funders include the Royal British Legion, the Army Benevolent Fund and money from the LIBOR banking fines. Finance from these funders has enabled Outside The Wire to expand into Suffolk and Essex.

The outcomes have been positive. Since Tom (not real name) left the Army he had found it very hard to settle back into civilian life. This was compounded by a sense of low esteem and avoidance of social interaction, and a suicide attempt. These problems were the cause of Tom’s excessive drinking, which unfortunately had led to his three-year driving ban.

Married with a family of four, he requested help in August 2016. Tom has been abstinent from alcohol for several months and through their help, he has regained his licence early. His emotional mental health is improving, and the whole family dynamics are happier. Tom said, “Since engaging with Outside The Wire, my whole life has been turned around; I am more settled in my family and work life and I have a more positive outlook on life thanks to their continuing support.”

The service is appreciated by local clergy. “Sheringham and its local area has always had many close links with the military,”explains the Revd Christian Heycocks.“Lots of people in the local community are ex-forces personnel and many more have family members currently serving all around the world. Many of our local homeless community are also ex-forces.

“St Peter’s and other local church communities have continuously supported charities and groups working with ex-forces personnel and we are very much aware of the valuable work currently being done by Outside the Wire and look forward to continuing to support their efforts and collaborating with them on future project work.”

For more information visit the Matthew Project website or contact 01603 626123.

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