A government advisor visited a veterans’ charity to speak to members about how the organisation helped them as they adjusted to life outside of the military.

Retired Colonel David Richmond CBE is an Independent Veterans’ Advisor and was on a two-day visit to the North to see a number of veteran organisations. He will be reporting his findings to Ministers from the Office of Veterans’ Affairs.

He toured Veterans In Communities’ building on Bury Road, Haslingden and was accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Lighten, National Chair of Veterans UK, Many members said they left the military with little knowledge of what life was like on the outside because they had spent so long having everything taken care of, but had not been given the skills or knowledge of how to live independently.

Former Royal Navy diver Dave Green, from Rawtenstall, has been a member of VIC since 2020 having contacted the charity during lockdown.

He said: “I went through a number of different agencies and I was ready to call it quits.”

Dave said it was thanks to a friend that he was advised to contact VIC and he was in a very ‘dark place’ when he made the first call VIC.

Falkland Islands veteran Darren Horsnell said: “People coming here see it as their second home because it is a safe environment and no one gets judged.”

Dave said: “They should be made aware of the places that are out there, I was not told and ended up walking round in circles. If I had known about this place [VIC], I would have been here and not on the side of a bridge.”

VIC Project Worker Ray Sharkey, who joined the Scots Guards at 16, told David: “I will always be a soldier; it is almost like the military created me.”

However, on leaving the forces Ray did not adjust to life outside the services and experienced major difficulties, not understanding the consequences of being solely responsible for financial and health decisions.

David added: “You are bringing people together here and it is a warm and friendly environment; they are in the community and have a range of services and support offered to them and many activities which support recovery and reintegration or just reconnecting them with people from the same community.

“I have really enjoyed these conversations; it has been very helpful to hear your thoughts and feelings on transition.”