A POIGNANT sculpture has been created by a Blackburn community group to show the similarities between soldiers in the trenches and homeless veterans today.

Gordon Mellody, members of the Westbury Gardens United Reformed Church and former veterans started planning the ‘Two Sides of Every Coin’ artwork a year ago. It was unveiled at Blackburn Library yesterday.

More than 70 people turned out for the event and the display will be taken around the country by the Veterans Living History Museum to raise awareness of the issues. The British Legion estimates there are about 6,000 homeless veterans in the UK.

Gordon said: “One hundred years on from World War One, has anything changed and what has changed? That’s the idea behind it. It shows the plight of some of the homeless veterans now.

“We have tried to make it a hard-hitting image as there is a lot of teaching and glorifying of the war and part of history, but this is the true situation.”

Sheila Aspin, of Westbury Gardens group, said: “I thought it was a wonderful idea and we enjoyed doing it. It had some meaning to it and it is not just a piece of art. You think about the sacrifices the veterans have made and what they have to deal with now.

"If you ask a lot of young people they would know about a few dates in some history lessons but they don’t know what happened to the people since.

“They also don’t know about the skirmishes or other conflicts such as Bosnia or Northern Ireland where people served.”

It took a month to create and Denise Cottam, community connector who helped to get £500 funding, was delighted with the result.

She said: “They have worked hard as part of a partnership and will get the message across. People leaving the forces are left with PTSD and feel they are a burden on their families. Something needs to be done to support veterans.”

Hundreds of people attended the Armistice Day commemorations outside Blackburn Town Hall yesterday with local dignitaries joining ex-servicemen and women to take part in a minute’s silence.

Cllr Jim Shorrock, mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, said: “It was great to see such a big turnout in Blackburn with Darwen today and over the weekend.”