'You are not alone': Vital Derbyshire charity helps veterans battling alcohol problems

Help is at hand for Derbyshire veterans who are struggling with alcohol problems.
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STAND TO, which is based at New Square in Chesterfield, is a vital charity dedicated to supporting ex-forces personnel across the county.

The service has helped countless people with drink issues to improve their lives.

STAND TO workers Jane Lawther, Elaine Handley, Gemma King, Danny Webb and Alison Corbett. Andy Hazard was unable to attend the photo shoot. Pictures and video: Brian Eyre.STAND TO workers Jane Lawther, Elaine Handley, Gemma King, Danny Webb and Alison Corbett. Andy Hazard was unable to attend the photo shoot. Pictures and video: Brian Eyre.
STAND TO workers Jane Lawther, Elaine Handley, Gemma King, Danny Webb and Alison Corbett. Andy Hazard was unable to attend the photo shoot. Pictures and video: Brian Eyre.
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Studies suggest one-in-ten military personnel meet the criteria for alcohol misuse – more than three times the rate for the general population.

Sixty-two-year-old Danny Webb has worked as an alcohol support worker with STAND TO for 18 months.

He told the Derbyshire Times: “I was in the army for 22 years, serving with the Royal Engineers. I worked with the bomb disposal team.

“When I got out, I really struggled – I didn’t fit into civvy life at all.

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“I couldn’t hold down a job and I ended up developing a drink problem.

“My drinking got worse and worse and it culminated in me getting into trouble with the police.

“I eventually sought help – and as part of my recovery I started volunteering with various groups, including mental health support groups.

“That’s when I found out about STAND TO and I saw they were looking for an alcohol support worker so I applied for the job – and I got it.

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“I’ve now been sober for five years and I don’t want anyone else to go through the problems I went through.”

According to recent research by the University of Liverpool and King’s College London, current and former military personnel are more likely to abuse alcohol to either to cope with stress or to fit in with others.

Danny said STAND TO currently supports around 40 Derbyshire veterans with drink issues.

“I know there will be many more ex-forces personnel out there who will be suffering in silence,” he added.

“Please know that we’re here for you – you are not alone.

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“Our dedicated, experienced and highly trained staff – most of whom have direct experience of the armed forces – have a particular awareness of the issues veterans and their families may experience.

“We acknowledge, understand and appreciate the sacrifices that ex-forces personnel and their families have made.

“We understand some of the challenges individuals may face in admitting their alcohol use is a problem and the conflict often felt in asking for support.

“We work closely with other organisations in the area to deliver a comprehensive service for those affected by alcohol misuse.”

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Among other things, STAND TO can provide access to counselling and one-to-one individual support such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Danny told of his pride at helping a 64-year-old man who served with the RAF and used to have a major alcohol problem.

He said: “He lived alone out in the sticks.

“He didn’t have sufficient heat, his windows were falling out, he had to go up rickety stairs – there were lots of problems with his accommodation which were making his drinking worse.

“We had to get him out to decent accommodation – and we did.

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“We’ve got him a place in Buxton and he's dramatically reduced his alcohol consumption and he’s going out running – he’s in a much better position now and he’s closer to getting sober.

“He’s just one of the many people we help on a daily basis.

“I’m so proud of this service.”

STAND TO, which is part of the Derbyshire Alcohol Advice Service, is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Lloyds Bank Foundation.

People can self-refer to the service or be referred by other professionals, services and agencies.

For more information about STAND TO, visit http://daas.uk.com/stand-to-ex-forces or call 01246 206514.