Open Arms

By Lee Lazenby, Community Engagement Officer

Jack called Greasbrough Library to inform them he was enroute to the Open Arms session, he was using his own means of transportation. Although the session was set to conclude in about 20 minutes, Lee, understanding Jack’s proximity and self-reliance, agreed to wait for his arrival. Jack unbeknown to us was navigating a dismal, damp afternoon on a pushbike, arriving soaked and famished. He apologised for his delay he was anxious, Lee offered him tea and biscuits then listened to his story.

Jack slowly became more at ease and started sharing his story. A military veteran forced to relinquish his private rented accommodation, he now resided in shared housing, leaving his belongings in storage. The spoke of his separation from family and the prolonged absence from his child, breaking down in tears as he conveyed feelings of loneliness, isolation, and hunger since departing the Armed Forces. Furthermore, he revealed ongoing struggles with mental health issues and disabilities.

With the assistance of the Making Our Money Go Further Team, a food parcel and additional support from the project was arranged to tide Jack over until he received funds, which were a week away. Lee informed him about Claire from “Walking with The Wounded” and pledged to contact her for potential support. Additionally, Jack was made aware of The Military Community Veterans Centre and upcoming local meetups that could provide valuable connections. Lee suggested attending for a cuppa, chat, and a possible free breakfast, emphasising the supportive network available.

Thankfully, Jack left in a much-improved state, expressing gratitude for the care and assistance received. Lee hoped that by connecting with others in similar situations, Jack would regain control. Before departing, he was informed about the nearest Open Arms venue for future assistance.