A charity for military veterans transitioning back to ordinary life, The veterans garage, is set to undergo major refurbishment, after a 16-month long planning battle.
The Veterans Garage, based in the Barton Aerodrome in Eccles, aims to “alleviate social isolation and promote social inclusion in all ages in a fun environment.”
Co-founder David Redshaw helped start the charity in 2016 after discovering his son Jayson was “not the same” following his time serving in Afghanistan.
It is not uncommon for ex-soldiers to fall victim to post traumatic stress disorder; a condition that sees those with it often relive a traumatic or distressing event:
“From a parent’s perspective, it’s heart-breaking,” said Mr Redshaw.
“You see a young man that you’ve brought up and after he comes back from doing something he wanted to do, he’s not the same.”
“He was suffering on a day-to-day basis, and that is what this place is for. You may never get over it, but you can learn to live with it the best way that you can.”
The development plans will see what was the UK’s first commercial airport, transformed into new facilities, with the premise centred around automotive repair.
Mr Redshaw, also director of the Levis Motorcycle Company, believes the automotive concept will help promote a shared interest amongst attending veterans:
“We’re all volunteers here,” he said.
“Our business is car clubs and bike clubs, so that’s where we found the common connection. It’s important for these people to talk with others about something they have passion for.”
Mr Redshaw said the original idea surfaced following a chat in a pub.
He wanted to open a facility that brought veterans into the community; however, he does not yet feel that enough is being done for those who are suffering:
“There are a lot of good charities out there and there is a lot of help, but I don’t think there’s enough. Not seven days a week anyway,” he said.
“These charities might take a day off, but your mind never does.”
Statistics show an increase in the overall rate of probable PTSD among current and ex-serving military personnel, with a 2% rise being documented in 2016.
Another ex-veteran who suffered with the condition is Dave Marriott, who served with the Royal Air Force
Mr Marriott said had it not been for the Veterans Garage, he “might not be here.”
“I was quite isolated until I found out about this place. I come here every day now. If it hadn’t been for this place, I would have gone by now.
“You can come down 7 days a week. It’s a lifesaving project I’d call it. I think I’d have gone a long time ago to be honest. I’m very lucky to have found this place, but unfortunately in this area, that’s all there is.”
Despite the current developments, the charity has it in their sights to expand across the country.
Mr Redshaw said, “The bigger plan is to roll it out around the country, using smaller facilities like disused pubs for instance that aren’t fit for use anymore.”
Long term we want to roll it out around the country and give help where they ned help.”
If you or any veterans you know are suffering, do not hesitate to contact Combat Stress, at 0800 138 1619 or 0800 323 4444.