Sunderland AFC is giving its support to a multi award-winning Veterans Charity.
Forward Assist works with military veterans with combat experience and unresolved trauma issues, whilst also providing support and guidance to former servicemen and women that experience difficulties in adjusting to a new life as a civilian.
As part of the project, the charity has transformed a Land Rover 101, which served in the Falklands, into a mobile coffee truck.
The truck, which is driven and staffed by veterans, will now be present at all of Sunderland AFC’s under 9-15 games at the Academy of Light, selling refreshments to parents, staff and other attendees. The aim is for veterans to learn and develop customer service and entrepreneurial skills, whilst becoming more socially integrated. The veterans that Forward Assist works with need supported employment and this special project does just that.
All proceeds made from the sale of refreshments will go directly to Forward Assist to help fund their ongoing work.
Forward Assist’s Chief Executive, Tony Wright said
“I am delighted to hear that Sunderland AFC want to help us to support our veterans volunteer project. The club has gone out of its way to ensure the Veterans Coffee Truck will be a success.“
Bob Wilson is just one of the many veterans Forward Assist supports.
After joining the Army in 1967 as a gunner, Wilson served for 15 years in seven tours, all in Northern Ireland.
In 1983, after leaving to pursue a different career, he says the transition was the most difficult challenge he had faced.
Bob described his life as being on an emotional rollercoaster, constantly living with depression and anxiety, not knowing that his symptoms were a part of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
He struggled with suicidal thoughts for years, before getting in touch with Forward Assist.
Forward Assist became a lifeline for Bob, who has now volunteered with them for a year.
With the help and support from Jon Clapham, Business Enterprise Manager, Bob has learned all the skills needed to become a coffee barista.
Sunderland AFC’s head of operations, Dave Moses, said:
“Forward Assist is a wonderful charity, helping those who have given so much in the service of our country. It is an honour for Sunderland AFC to support the charity and we are delighted to welcome the veterans to the Academy of Light.”