HEREFORDSHIRE Council has said that while Christmas can be exciting, it can be one of the loneliest and most challenging times of the year for some residents.

It said help is on hand for the veteran and armed forces community who may be struggling with loneliness, being separated from loved ones or even adapting to civilian life, all of which could affect their mental health.

Because of the unique obligations and personal sacrifices armed forces personnel make, a range of forces-friendly, 24-hour helplines are on standby during the festive period.

Councillor Barry Durkin, Herefordshire’s armed forces covenant partnership chairman, said: “I’d like to wish all our local armed forces community a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

"However, I’m aware that the festive period can be really tough, particularly for those who are struggling with isolation and loneliness. As many of our local charities and services take a short break over the festivities, it is important that our armed forces community know that additional support is available around the clock.

"It is essential that no-one should feel isolated, or continue to experience worries that can be helped, so whatever the issue might be please do reach out for help; there is someone who will understand.”

In addition, there is also a range of local advice and support to help keep people warm, well and safe at Keeping well in winter - Talk Community Directory

For the homeless, New Zara House, Whitecross Road is providing help until mid-March 2023. This provision is being managed by Vennture, a registered charity.

People experiencing street homelessness this winter should approach Vennture at the Merton Hotel in Commercial Road any weekday between 11am and 1pm for further information.

Advice and assistance is available from Herefordshire Council’s outreach team which can be contacted at Blueschool House, Blueschool Street, Hereford during office hours or on 01432 261546 or 01432 261547.

If they can't be reached by phone, email: Further information is available at: Housing in Herefordshire – Herefordshire Council

National helplines for the armed forces community

Veterans Gateway

24 hours call: 0808 802 1212

Royal British Legion

Call: 0808 802 8080 - Available 8am until 8pm, seven days a week

Op Courage (NHS veteran mental health line)

24 hours call: 0300 323 0137

Samaritans (military and armed forces community support)

24 hours call: 116 123

Or download the Samaritans Veteran app to your mobile device

Combat Stress

24 hours call: 0800 138 1619

SSAFA Forcesline

Call: 0800 731 4880 - Available 9am until 5.30pm, Monday – Friday

Local support is available on either side of the festive break from our armed forces charities:

SSAFA Herefordshire

SSAFA Herefordshire will respond as soon as practicable throughout the festive period. Please call 01432 273932 or the West Midlands helpline on 020 4566 9116. It’s open every day except December 25, 26, 27 and January 2

Herefordshire Veteran Support Centre, 19 West Street, Hereford

The centre will be closed December 26 and January 2. It will be open on Wednesdays and Fridays as normal over the festive break

First Light Trust Café, 41-43 Broad Street, Hereford

Closed on December 26 and 27 and January 1 and 2. The cafe reopens January 3.