1568. Claire Wright
1569. Chris Squires
Claire Wright and Chris Squires, from Manchester, run ‘Trafford Veterans’, a support group of veterans, emergency service personnel and volunteers who provide help for local Armed Forces veterans, emergency services, reservists, members of the cadet forces and their families who are struggling or feeling isolated.
Claire and Chris both served in the Armed Forces and founded the group in 2015, after finding there was little in the way of peer support in their area. Prior to the pandemic, their group would host regular activities to tackle social isolation and rebuild the sense of camaraderie that many veterans miss upon leaving the Armed Forces, such a monthly breakfast, weekly model making and craft group, walking football team, minibus trips, an allotment project, food shares and coffee mornings, and other aspects of community outreach, with a particular focus on providing veterans with volunteering opportunities. Throughout COVID-19, ‘Trafford Veterans’ have been offering welfare checks, delivering food parcels and hosting online events. As well as the activities, Claire and Chris provide information, advice and guidance to help the veterans community in Trafford with employment support, referrals to mental health services and applying for veterans badges or replica medals. They have also provided standard bearers, coffin drapes and military veterans to line the roadways at funerals, provided suits and clothing for job interviews, and supported veterans and families who have hit upon hard times by buying food, topping up gas and electric and providing them Christmas presents.
In a personal letter to Claire and Chris, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I want to thank you for your service to our nation and now your service to others through ‘Trafford Veterans’
“From your own service, you know what is needed to support brave veterans as they move to civilian life. Your online events, welfare checks and understanding peer support are more important than ever during the pandemic. You continue to bring a sense of camaraderie and companionship to your fellow veterans.”
Claire and Chris said:
“Being Forces veterans, it’s a duty to help others who are not always able to help themselves. We do this because we care and it is very much needed. We are supporting our brothers and sisters who have also served. To be awarded this Points of Light award was a huge surprise and we are humbled, thank you.”
Picture credit: Karen Herman Wright