1. ITV Report

Mending canals and war wounds at the same time

More than 100 veterans from across the country have joined forces to restore parts of the Kennet and Avon Canal near Devizes over the past fortnight.

The project, a collaboration between Help for Heroes and the Canal & River Trust, is designed to help the veterans re-build their lives by gaining new skills and qualifications.

The plan also includes a new memorial garden and pond. Credit: ITV

The Trust is investing half a million pounds in the restoration of Bridge 99 on the historic canal, as well as nearby paths and the creation of a memorial garden.

"It got to the stage where I reached rock-bottom. 18 months ago I was drinking nine litres of cider a day. I was getting into debt. I wanted to end my life. But being outdoors, out here on the project, it's given me a sense of achievement. I'm doing something good, rather than doing something bad."

– Darren Gethyn, ex-Royal Engineer and PTSD sufferer

The project coincides with the launch last month of a new NHS mental health service for veterans.

Costing £9 million, and known officially as the NHS transition, intervention and liaison (TIL) veterans’ mental health service, it is designed to act as a front door to a range of mental health services across the health and care system for 17,500 people over the next three years, and both speed up and join up their mental health care.

"Very often the problem has been people not knowing where to find the help. People haven't been getting the help they need. So PTSD Resolution really welcomes the new TIL scheme. More help is needed."

– Carol Harper, therapist at the charity PTSD Resolution

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