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Who Are We?
About Turn Veteran Support projects offer information, advice, guidance and ‘life changing’ opportunities to ex-servicemen and women who are experiencing difficulties in adjusting to a new life as a civilian. About Turn support programmes are particularly relevant for ex-servicemen and women who are experiencing homelessness or housing problems, are incarcerated in Prison or have involvement with the Criminal Justice System. Many ex forces personnel have alcohol and drug dependency issues and have difficulty accessing support in relation to mental health and/ or post-traumatic stress disorder. A large percentage of our referrals & group membership is disenfranchised from mainstream services and lack family support. They choose to not access existing services or are deemed inappropriate for existing provision. Often this is because of a lack of understanding in the civilian community of the Armed forces culture, individual behaviour and mannerisms or simply that they display multiple complex needs that overwhelm individual service deliverers. About Turn staff and volunteers seek out and ‘plug in’ colleagues to sympathetic and appropriate services.
What we do?
About Turns ‘peer led’ support groups and structured diversionary activities provide a much needed service that reduces social isolation and promotes community engagement with other veterans on a daily or weekly basis. About Turn’s appropriately registered, qualified and enhanced CRB checked staff assist individuals to navigate and access the multitude of organizations and services available to them in the civilian community whilst using activities and vocational skills based projects that enable veterans to gain nationally accredited qualifications as a matter of course. The activities and peer led support groups offer a safe environment and a chance to meet and be with others who understand the multiple and complex issues facing individuals that have served in today’s Modern day Armed forces. The aim of the group is to empower and give group members the skills, experience and opportunity to run and facilitate groups themselves and provide mutual support and mentoring to those less well settled Veterans who have not yet reached a level of stability. About Turn’s qualified Social workers and teaching staff encourage group members to utilize the numerous transferable and existing skills they gained whilst serving in the Armed Forces and the group projects allow them the opportunity to ‘do good’ in the civilian community.
About Turn is a ‘not for profit’ social enterprise that is legally constituted as a Community Interest Company. It was founded by Tony Wright in late 2009 in response to the disturbing number of veterans that found it difficult to cope after having served in a variety of combat zones around the world over the last 70 years. As a qualified and registered Social Worker, former Home Office Advisor and Probation Officer he decided to use his skills and experiences to improve the lives of former Armed Forces personnel and their families’ by giving them a role and sense of purpose following their transition from military service to the civilian community. About Turn believe that by promoting ‘active citizenship’ former servicemen and women can become ‘key stakeholders’ within their chosen communities and in doing so utilize their transferrable skills. About Turn CIC campaign for equitable, responsive and ‘veteran centric’ support services. About Turn recognizes that the former service community is not a community in its truest sense but a disparate population, without a political voice or status. Until this inequality is addressed former Servicemen and women will continue to be a marginalized ‘hidden population’.
The civilian community’s belief that the “military take care of their own”, after service life is both misleading and inaccurate. For many this misconception has proved to be counterproductive to providing for the needs of veterans and their families. This anomaly and the fact that there is no consistent case management for any individual veteran or his or her family or indeed any overriding strategy for each service. In fact there is no cohesive infrastructure for the system overall that recognizes the complex, multifaceted effects of service in today’s all volunteer force.
In response to the above and taking into account his own experiences of trying to re-invent himself with a life-long disability after 3 years in the Royal Marines About Turn Veteran Support Service came into being to offer information, advice, guidance and ‘life changing’ opportunities to ex-servicemen and women who were experiencing difficulties in adjusting to a new life as a civilian. About Turn support projects are particularly relevant for former servicemen and women who are experiencing social exclusion are incarcerated in Prison or have ongoing or past involvement with the Criminal Justice System. Many former service personnel have alcohol and drug dependency issues and have difficulty accessing specialist support in relation to mental health and/ or post-traumatic stress disorder. A large percentage of our referrals & group membership is disenfranchised from mainstream services and lack family support. A disproportionate number are personnel to sympathetic and appropriate services whilst offering diversionary activities that are linked to the acquisition of vocational skills and accredited qualifications.
As well as delivering ‘one to one’ support where necessary we also coordinate and facilitate ‘peer led’ support groups in various locations across the North East dependant on need and actively refer to specialist ‘clinician led’ veterans groups if they benefit the overall wellbeing of those we work with.
"I have noticed that those individuals I have met who have been attending the
About Turn groups have reported a growing sense that their identity is
returning, this appears to have resulted in a return of pride and embryonic
confidence which has then enabled these individuals to claw back some
self-esteem and have a positive impact on their mood."
Meares Consultant Clinical Psychologist
The About Turn CIC founder and Directors are all former service personnel who re-trained in professions as diverse as Social Work, Engineering Project management and fund raising after leaving the services. They all have specialist skills and direct experience in relation to mental health services, drug and alcohol dependency, social exclusion, the Criminal Justice System and regional experience in the strategic implementation and ‘bedding in’ of Government initiatives.
About Turn has provided ‘Veterans Awareness’ training and facilitated ‘peer led’ support groups in HMP Durham, HMP Kirkham and HMP Northumberland. The team provided specialist Veteran Centric Training to Hull City Council, Senior Management Team members from Job Centre Plus and Northumbria Probation Trust staff.
"....today exceeded my expectations! The whole day delivered far more than I ever expected. The buzz tomorrow will be fantastic as the team now have a 4 day intense coaching and mentoring input. I simply cannot wait to unleash them on the "volunteers" .Please assure all of your associates that they delivered on the day! Peter and Grahams story held resonance and certainly humbled us all in the blistering honesty." Russell Waterman, Manager, The Minerva Project, Hull City Council
"I'm very proud of what M has achieved over the last couple of years and I'm thrilled at how his confidence and sense of purpose has grown since his involvement with About Turn" KB Northumbria Probation Officer
In 2011 About Turn provided advice and consultancy to the Education Training and Employment Service within Northumbria Probation Trust, prior to and during the award winning pilot initiative known as VESP (Veterans Employment and Training Project) About Turn continue to receive referrals from Northumbria Probation Trust and work in partnership with a host of organisations that specialise in supporting those veterans that find themselves involved with the Criminal Justice System.
Tony Wright Founder and Managing Director is also a member of the Justice Unions Parliamentary steering group for Veterans in Prison and was recently a ‘key note’ speaker at a ‘No Offence’ sponsored conference at HMP Doncaster.
Our work is in many ways all about empowering veterans to engage with veterans. Many former service personnel volunteer to mentor those that found the transition to civilian life difficult. Sadly they are too many cases where former servicemen and women are invisible to the civilian community and this sense of being ‘deep undercover’ compounds feelings of dislocation and disenfranchisement. Having learned to navigate the system themselves the volunteers are able to provide tailored support, based on needs, in a way that is acceptable and highly effective.
About Turn CIC is a professional, accountable organization with robust quality assurance and governance arrangements. Our policies, procedures and vetting systems are available for inspection if required.
We are members of; Newcastle Link, CLINKS, Newcastle CVS, The North East Community Foundation, Newcastle Gateshead and Northumberland Armed Forces Network Group
In autumn 2012 About Turn established ‘Forward Assist Ltd’. Forward Assist Ltd achieved charitable status and was entered onto the register of Charities on 9th January 2013. In due course Forward Assist will take over the responsibility for About Turn which will continue act as a sustainable ‘not for profit’ social enterprise assisting veterans to develop viable routes out of unemployment. About Turn has already established itself as a leading organisation in the delivery of ‘veteran’s awareness’ training for the statutory, voluntary and business sector. In future all profits made by About Turn will be gifted to Forward Assist the lead Charity.
‘Forward Assist Ltd’ Registered Charity Company No: 08190905
Charity Number: 1150408 Registered in England and Wales.
Tony Wright, Managing Director of About Turn joined the Royal Marines in 1978 and was medically discharged in 1981 after seriously injuring his shoulder during basic training. As an Early Service Leaver (ESL) he has firsthand knowledge of how difficult it is for many ex servicemen and women to re-establish themselves back into the civilian community after discharge from the Armed Forces. He is particularly supportive of those veterans that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress or other mental health problems.
After leaving the armed forces he was unemployed for some considerable time before returning to the education system to gain appropriate qualifications so that he could re-train in an occupation of his choice. He has worked in a range of statutory and voluntary welfare settings, qualifying as a social worker in 1996. His experience includes management of Residential Care, Community Support Outreach Teams, and the intensive supervision and support of Prolific and Priority Adult Offenders in both the Probation Service and the voluntary sector. More recently he has worked as a Home Office Advisor based within Government Office North East and whilst working in the Homeless sector managed a government funded pilot project created specifically to develop innovative interventions for Adults Facing Chronic Exclusion. He currently provides services for marginalized veterans through About Turn CIC . Tony sits on a Parliamentary Justice Unions steering group for veterans in the Criminal Justice System. He has had several articles published in specialist periodicals and more recently he travelled to the USA for 6 weeks as part of a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to research compare and contrast the services available to US veterans and those in the UK. Tony is currently campaigning for the introduction of Veterans Courts to the UK.
Peter Dolan is 39 years old he served with the Royal Engineers from 1990-1991. Peter, like many Early Service Leavers on return to the civilian community had direct experience of chronic social exclusion and struggled with the assimilation back to civilian life. Like many veterans Peter was for a period of time (10 years ), estranged from his family ,addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless and 'sleeping rough' He claims he was close to death before finally accepting help and spent 12 months in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre. On completion of his treatment Peter joined About Turn and is classed as one of the About Turn originals. His dedication to the cause has impressed many and he was invited to become a Director in 2011. Peter brings to the table a wealth of personal experience and acts as a reality check for the senior management team, ensuring the organisation is always driven by the needs of the veteran . Peter now works full time and is a Level 2 football coach and co-founder of the About Turn Veterans Challenge trophy football tournament.
Colin Hutchinson is a former Warrant Officer who served for 22 years in the Royal Engineers. He is now business Manager for NECA, an organisation providing substance misuse services across the region.
" Having made the transition back to civilian life myself. I am acutely aware of the need to use my personal experiences and skill to support those that do not find the transition easy. It alarms me that so many veterans require support from specialist social care organisations on their return to the UK. Especially as the true cause of their difficulties can be related to their past combat experiences whilst serving in many of the operational theatres across the globe. As a Director of About Turn CIC I am able to make a small but significant difference for those in need."
Mel Creighton, About Turns project manager and logistical co-ordinator has extensive experience in organising large scale events around the world. He is also a qualified teacher and a Level 2 angling coach.