Solent NHS Trust and The Ripple Pond partner to deliver support for veterans’ families 


Solent NHS Trust is hoping to raise awareness of how Hampshire and Isle of Wight families and carers of veterans with poor mental health can now access vital crisis mental health support, providing relief from the strain and tension often experienced over the Christmas period.

Collaborating with The Ripple Pond, a key partner charity providing peer support to those who are supporting British service personnel and veterans living with a physical injury or mental illness, Solent, along with other partners including All Call Signs and Walking With The Wounded, will offer support for veterans and  their family members experiencing crisis in their mental health.

By calling NHS 111 if you live in Hampshire/IoW and telling the call handler that you are a veteran or are family of a veteran, requiring crisis mental health support, you will be put through to a peer support call handler who will ensure you access the immediate help you require. This may include referring you to the new Hampshire and Isle of Wight High Intensity Service, a crisis service which will assess both physical and mental health, along with any social requirements, such as housing.

Talking about how the expectations of the festive period can lead to more tension and pressure on those with poor mental health, Cindy, a member of The Ripple Pond shares her experience, saying

 “I stumbled upon The Ripple Pond at a time when I desperately needed help and support living with my husband with PTSD. His illness had got so bad that I was at the end of my tether, trying to juggle being a good Mum and keeping myself healthy so that I could be the supportive wife too. It is pretty much impossible to do all of this unless you are Wonderwoman.

Suffering from anxiety which yes, is attributable to my husband’s illness has made life difficult. I firmly believe that when any service person is diagnosed with PTSD, the whole family should be offered help, not left to fend for themselves when they may not even know where to start. As a veteran myself and the spouse of a service person who has been wounded in service, it felt like there was nothing put in place to offer us help, I had to seek help and support on my own. Now there is an NHS 111 service for Hampshire and IoW and the High Intensity Service, I feel people will not be left to fend for themselves. 

I am extremely grateful to Ripple Pond, who are always there to support those supporting a veteran or serving person , I  recommend reaching out to them for support if you need it. I am grateful daily that I made that phone call.” 

Solent’s own Breaking Barriers Innovations report, jointly commissioned with NHS England, saw over 100 veterans and their families interviewed and identified veterans’ families as often experiencing trauma, which can be intensified during holidays and festive periods when expectations run high.

Andy Spencer, Armed Forces Lead Manager, said “We hope that veterans and those looking after them will feel confident in using the NHS 111 service in Hampshire and IoW when there is a need for crisis mental health support.  Just tell the call handler you or your loved one is a veteran, and your call will be handled by specialists who can help.  We know that Christmas, whilst a wonderful time for many, does see an increase in problems relating to ill health, including domestic violence, an increase in alcohol consumption and gambling.  With the High Intensity Service on hand, Solent, and our partners, including The Ripple Pond and All Call Signs, aim to provide a wrap around service, looking after the whole family as needed”.