NHS staff are being urged in Armed Forces Week to help more ex-Forces patients transform their lives through employment support, following the success of regional pilot projects.

Veterans charity The Poppy Factory has helped more than 100 veterans in the first year of the pilots, with 45 finding work so far. The NHS funds its employment consultants to deliver employment support for veterans with health conditions in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Cheshire and Wirral.

Alongside those who have moved into paid work, others have been supported to take up opportunities in education, training and volunteering.

Free one-to-one guidance is offered throughout each veteran’s journey towards employment, helping them overcome barriers and make positive life changes. Regular check-ins show they are building confidence, developing skills and experience and improving their health and wellbeing.

Tim Welch, chief executive at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: ”As a veteran-aware organisation, it brings us enormous pride to be involved in this incredibly worthwhile initiative to support our veterans in finding employment.

One of our key values at the Trust is to help people be the best they can be and this absolutely includes those who have been involved in our armed forces. Since we began our work with The Poppy Factory more than 40 ex-service personnel have been supported. Employment is vital to people’s feeling of social inclusion and we are delighted to work with The Poppy Factory to provide person-centred support to ex-servicemen and women.”

Deirdre Mills, chief executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “Connecting with NHS partners has helped us reach many veterans who would not otherwise have found our employment service.

“During Armed Forces Week, we are urging NHS staff to help ex-Forces patients by making a simple referral. In doing so, they will begin a journey that can lead to huge improvements in veterans’ mental health and wellbeing.”

Pilot projects in Portsmouth and Plymouth launched in April 2021 and are set to run for another year. A project with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has also been extended by the NHS for two years after a successful pilot funded by Forces in Mind Trust.