National Mentoring Day

As part of National Mentoring Day, Help for Heroes mentors have spoken about the benefits of helping wounded, injured and sick veterans forge a new life for themselves outside of the Armed Forces.

Stacy Collins, a Front of House Manager with Mitie Client Services in Birmingham, said being a mentor on the Help for Heroes Pathfinder Experience is  “the most rewarding” thing she has ever been involved in.

 Her husband left the army in 2010 suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and struggled to adapt to life outside the army. She witnessed first-hand the emotional struggle that individuals and their families face and wanted others to know there are ways to help.

National Mentoring Day Tommy And Martin 1

“My husband spent two years struggling before seeking professional help but after finding support he has improved his mind set and adapted fully to life outside the army.

“His is a great success story but his journey made me think about people leaving the army that don’t have any support or family and how hard it would be for them to make the adjustment. When I first heard about the Help for Heroes mentor programme, I knew straight away it was exactly what I’d been looking for.

“Following my three day training, I was matched with Liam, an ex-marine who had suffered with PTSD and was struggling to put his life in order and find what he wanted to do. I have a call with Liam every Monday where we try to set goals for the week and an update call on a Friday to find out how the week’s been. Often it’s just about having someone to talk to about his life and how he’s feeling but Liam wanted to get back into personal training and didn’t have the confidence, so I arranged some shadowing for him at a local gym. This really improved his confidence and made him get back in the gym, keeping fit and clearing his mind.

“When we first met six months ago he didn’t have a place to live, a job, or structure in his life, and had such low confidence. He called me yesterday to let me know he’d been offered a job, he’s going to the gym every day, has taken up a new sport and now has a place to live. He has made massive improvements in his life and is looking to the future. It’s rewarding to know that even though I play only a small part in his life, he values my support and thanks me every time we talk. It’s just as rewarding for me as it is for him.

“I would recommend anyone to take part in this programme as it’s not about what you know, or the connections you have, it’s about supporting people through a tough time and finding out what they need from you. In my case it’s a listening ear and a pep talk when Liam was feeling low and I’ve learnt I’m really quite good at that.”

Another mentor, Martin Dewhurst, a Project Manager, was matched with veteran Tommy Lowther, a PTSD sufferer who has since gone on to launch his own successful charity, Sporting Force. Martin explained: “Tommy is an inspiring character with a massive heart. Knowing I have made a difference in his life is massive for me. We are on this path together and I am very proud to be walking alongside him.”

National Mentoring Day Tommy And Martin 2

Former Sapper Ian McGill is a mentor to veteran Dave Wilkins, who served for eight years with the Royal Regiment of Wales before picking up a serious knee injury.

Ian explained: “We meet once a month and just reassess where he is in relation to where he ultimately wants to be. Being a good mentor means being able to listen, give a different perspective and be emphatic. It is not about pushing them, it is about nudging them and respect what they need.

“The country owes people like Dave and I’m glad to be able to give something back to him. From when I first met him 12 months ago to now, he is happier, calmer and more confident. To think I helped play even a small part in that change is both humbling and rewarding.”

A mentor can be from all walks of life, civilian and ex-military, and will be a good listener, supporter, challenger, helper and friend. We recognise that, at times, veterans may feel isolated and lonely; a mentor can keep them engaged. During a transition period, veterans need vision and direction and a mentor offers support and guidance.

To find out more about the mentor programme run by Help for Heroes, email

Categories :

Jodie Kidd on the Lorraine Show

H4H celebrity ambassador, one of the most successful supermodels of her generation and super mum Jodie Kidd, has just completed a gruelling year of challenges!


Earlier today, Jodie was on the sofa on the Lorraine Show interviewed by Helen Skelton where she spoke about everything to do with her modelling days, motivation to support H4H, #ChallengeKiddo and mental health.

Watch a clip from the 6 minute interview here.

Read the Mail Online piece with video.


Over a busy year, Jodie has cycled 567 miles and climbed to Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit at 5800 meters to raise money for Help for Heroes. Her motivation stems from her modelling days where she suffered from crippling anxiety and knows how destructive this can be. Jodie also has close friends who are Veterans battling to overcome mental health challenges and is doing her bit to raise £200k for H4H whilst highlighting the support available and encouraging people to get in touch.

Lots more to come from Jodie next year on her journey to raise £200k, watch this space and #ChallengeKiddo!

Categories :

10000th H4H Grant

A brain damaged war veteran left unable to speak or walk properly is receiving support from Help for Heroes to ensure his home is safe to be in and to end his “living nightmare”.

Former Lance Corporal Simon Vaughan has been living in an unsafe home ever since his newly-purchased property in Shropshire had to be demolished and rebuilt for his needs. However, builders left it partially finished meaning it does not have a completion certificate and is deemed unsafe. Simon sought support from military charity Help for Heroes which has awarded him £5,000 to make the necessary changes to his home so it is safe to live in.

Simon And Lynne2

The grant from H4H is the 10,000th individual grant awarded since H4H started providing financial assistance in 2010.

Simon, 32, of Newport, Shropshire, suffered a serious brain injury when a Land Rover he was travelling in drove over an improvised explosive device in Musa Qala, Helmand Province on 6 December 2008. Army medics fought to keep him alive and his heart stopped beating at the scene of the attack, starving his brain of oxygen.

His family was told by doctors that his brain injuries were so severe he would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. In fact, medics were so convinced he would not survive the journey home that he boarded a plane with an obituary pinned to his bag. Simon, who was serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, also suffered a broken jaw, shattered pelvis, collapsed lungs, and broken back in the explosion. He remained in a coma for 44 days before beginning his long road to recovery.

In 2009, he and his now ex-wife bought a bungalow in Ercall Heath for £295,000 in cash without a survey. When construction work began to adapt it for Simon’s needs, builders discovered that the house was structurally unsafe. At a cost of £300,000 more, the bungalow had to be demolished and rebuilt. However, the work was only partially completed and it meant Simon has been living in a house deemed unsafe and without a completion certificate.

The £5,000 grant from Help for Heroes will enable Simon to make necessary home improvements to get the completion certificate including installing smoke detectors, repairing ceilings and cracks on the floor, a gas safety certificate for the boiler, installing vents and a gas bottle store.

Had the grant not been given, Simon, who also completed tours of Iraq in 2003 and Northern Ireland in 2005, would have had to stop paying for his speech and language therapy to afford the cost. He explained how it all took his toll on him.


 “My mental health has really suffered,” he said. “I wasn’t sleeping and I was so frustrated all the time. I just became really angry when I realised the state the house was in.

“When I found out Help for Heroes were going to support me, I couldn’t stop smiling.  It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders and it relieves so much pressure. I’m look forward to having my happiest Christmas in a long time.”

Simon’s mother Lynne Baugh, 54, now her son’s full time carer, added: “The house needs to be suitable for a severely disabled person and at the minute, it’s nowhere near that standard. It’s just adding so much stress to what is already a difficult situation handling Simon’s disability and we nearly reached crisis point.

“Every day it is like waking up to a nightmare. It’s been hell. But finally we can see a way out and improvements can be done.”

Claire Barnes, Head of Grants at Help for Heroes, said: “At Help for Heroes, we are passionate about ensuring our wounded, injured and sick get the very best support to rebuild their lives. Often, they need financial support to kick-start a new career, receive psychological support, make necessary adaptations to their home, take up a new sport or in some instances, relieve their debt.  

“We could not have delivered this essential support without the generous donations from the public who have answered the call to help our brave men and women of the Armed Forces.”

Since 2010, Help for Heroes have provided 10,000 individual grants to the wounded, injured and sick and their families to enable them to rebuild their lives, totalling £12,000,000.

Of those 10,000, 20% were for sporting activities, 18% for vocational purposes, 10% for housing and 18% for non-debt financial reasons. Grants are also given for issues such as debt, respite breaks, white and brown goods and psychological wellbeing.

If you’re wounded, injured and sick and need support, please visit Get Support.

Categories :

Help for Heroes helps brave Veteran after his house is ruined by ‘cowboy builders’

A former soldier paralysed from the waist down in a roadside blast in Afghanistan was left devastated after his adapted home was ruined - by 'cowboy builders'.

Royal Engineer Ben Zissman, 27, was a member of the TA and serving with 21 Royal Engineers Royal Monmouthshire in South Helmand in 2010 when an IED charge hit his vehicle.

Ben Zissman House 2

He woke up six weeks later with a broken ankle, four smashed ribs, a fractured pelvis and an injured spinal cord, and battled to get his life back on track with his childhood sweetheart and now-wife Ciara, 27.

Ben Zissman House 3

After Ben had gone through years of treatment at Headley Court, the couple were able to buy their dream bungalow in 2011 and moved in the next year.

Their new home was specially adapted with ramps, rails and adapted bathrooms thanks to government grants.

But a few years after the work was completed suspicious damp patches appeared on the walls of their three-bed bungalow.

The couple were devastated to discover that the workmen - who have apparently since ceased to trade - had failed to properly install the pipes to the wet room, they said.

Investigations revealed faulty pipes were slowly leaking and gradually destroying the house. Throughout the property, damp and mould had ruined the underfloor beams.

The pair were told they would have to move out while workmen dried out and ripped up the floors of their home.

Ben, who relies on a wheelchair, faced eight weeks away from his wife as well as his home.

However, thanks to Help for Heroes, Ben and Ciara were able to stay together while the remedial work was done.

The Charity funded the majority of their £4,000 stay in a fully accessible and adapted holiday cottage near to their home.

Brave Ben, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said: "Moving into my own house felt like a huge step forward for me, and the prospect of not having that felt like taking a massive step back.

“I had grown to really feel comfortable there - knowing where a rail was or how to get from one place to another.

Ben Zissman House 4

“That was a lot more important to me than it might be for another person, so it was really daunting to hear that I'd have to move out.

"We couldn’t believe it when we realised what had happened.

“It was a case of the guys that did it just not knowing what they were doing properly. It was really upsetting to see the state they had left the house in. “

"Due to my needs, and having a dog, and needing to be near my wife's work, we couldn't just live anywhere," said Ben.

"Going back to a care setting would have been a big mental battle.

"After everything we had achieved it was bad enough that the house had been ruined. Help for Heroes helped me keep my independence.”

The pair are now back home and keen hand-cyclist Ben is continuing to pursue his dream of becoming a Paralympic cyclist.

Ben Zissman House 5

Claire Barnes, Head of Grants at Help for Heroes, said: “Ben and Ciara were facing two months of separation during what was already an incredibly stressful time for them.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Great British public, Help for Heroes was able to help them stay together, close to home, while repairs were done to their house.

“It’s vital that we’re able to support our wounded whenever they might need it and we’re delighted that Ben and Ciara are now back in their home.”

Categories :

South West veterans with severe mental health issues to benefit from Help for Heroes funding

Chris Jones 1

Veterans in the South West suffering from severe mental health problems will get quicker access to support thanks to £390,000 of funding from military charity Help for Heroes.

Help for Heroes is grant funding £390,000 to the South West Veterans Mental Health Service (SWVMHS) to improve mental health support to military veterans and reservists across the South West of England.

A former Private in the Army Air Corps, Chris Jones, 43, of Ivybridge, was discharged when he was just 25, barely able to walk. He suffered several injuries to both legs and now frequently uses a wheelchair. More recently, he was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. He has experienced feelings of inadequacy, guilt and failure ever since, because he can no longer do the only job he had ever wanted.

As his mental health began to deteriorate Chris sought help and was supported by a Psychological Wellbeing Advisor through Help for Heroes for four months before being signposted to the SWVMHS for further treatment. He was seen within two weeks and saw a mental health practitioner on a weekly basis for six months.

“Having someone to offload to, without any judgment, was just what I needed,” he explained.

“I was struggling with anger issues and could change at the click of a finger. At its least harmful I would scream obscenities at people, including my boss. At its most harmful, I would run people off the road.

“I trusted nobody, couldn’t socialise and hated relying on people. I would be as obnoxious as I could possibly be, and if someone was still willing to help me after that, I recognised they were probably worth opening up to. That’s exactly what happened with H4H and SWVMHS.”

Chris credits SWVMHS for turning his life around.

Chris Jones 2

“Because I had to look after myself for so long, I was not prepared to accept help or have someone telling me there was something wrong. But the beauty about working with H4H and SWVMHS is that, providing you open the door just a fraction, they are there to walk alongside you until the door is fully open and you can see the light on the other side.

“They made me realise what my triggers were and how best to deal with them. I can now socialise happily with other people and can walk into a shop without wanting to leave immediately. Life is much calmer.”

He said the grant from H4H would benefit so many veterans with mental health problems.

“When your mental health is in the place mine was in, life can go horribly wrong very quickly. This grant will enable former soldiers like me to get help as soon as they ask for it. Sometimes, the window of opportunity to get help is so small because your frame of mind can change in an instant. That is why it is crucial to receive help immediately upon seeking it.” 

Army veteran and PTSD sufferer Keith Rossiter-Webb, 53, of Bideford, served with the 2nd Battalion Queen’s Regiment for 13 years doing tours in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Germany, Canada and Kenya. The horrors he saw left a lasting impact and he took 3 attempts on his life.

Keith Rossiter -Webb

He said: “I saw some truly dreadful things. I was also shot at, involved in an explosion and set on fire 3 times. When I returned home, I became very argumentative and depressed and had changed dramatically as a person. Flashbacks and nightmares became regular and I couldn’t see a way out.”

Like Chris, Keith was referred to SWVMHS through H4H and has been supported by the service since January 2015.

“For the first time in a long time I didn’t feel patronised and felt safe and secure to really open up and my family say I’m back to the man I used to be.

“The service is so crucial and this grant will go a long way to changing so many lives like it did mine. Knowing SWVMHS are there, for as long as I need the support, is a huge comfort to me.”

Tim Hollingbery, Clinical Lead at Help for Heroes, said: “Help for Heroes is a charity leading the way in mental health support to members of the Armed Forces community. Many wounded or injured veterans need support with mental health problems and it is vitally important they get that support in a timely and effective manner.

“Help for Heroes have worked with SWVMHS, who are experts in their field in making a difference to psychological wellbeing of the veteran community, for the last two years. This grant funding is an extension of an already positive working relationship and will enable us to better meet the needs of veterans suffering with their mental health.

“The work of SWVMHS compliments Help for Heroes own psychological wellbeing service, Hidden Wounds, by supporting those in need of more complex mental health support, such as for PTSD.”

David Wilcox, Service Lead, at SWVMHS, added: “We are absolutely thrilled that SWVMHS is being supported by Help for Heroes to aid the psychological recovery of those affected by their military service by offering timely access to evidence-based and effective treatment. This funding enables us to employ qualified clinicians with experience of working with the military community to be based in Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset.  This will in turn better enable us to support and empower veterans and their families across the South West to overcome mental health difficulties and we are extremely grateful.”

The Hidden Wounds team can be contacted confidentially by calling 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines) weekdays 9am-5pm or via To contact the SWVMHS, email or telephone 0300 555 0112.

Categories :