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Airedale Hospital to host military connections coffee morning

Martin Flint-Johnson, Armed Forces Advocate at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust (right) with Pauline King from Rerserve Forces Cadets Association (RFCA)

Patients, hospital visitors and staff with a military connection or who are ex-armed forces are being invited to a special coffee morning event at Airedale Hospital next week.

Martin Flint-Johnson, the Armed Forces Advocate at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, is holding the 'Brew Up' event on Tuesday 19th March as part of #MilitaryMarch.

The event takes place between 9.30am and 10.30am in the hospital restaurant (location C30) and will include free brews and cake, with coffee provided by Starbucks.

Martin says: “It’s just about getting together, sharing stories and giving a bit of support or advice if it’s needed, along with some forces chat.  Anyone who’s served can stop by and find some friendly faces and a bit of company. It’s also about getting to know people in the community.” 

At the last event, 12 veterans and their families came along to support each other and veteran information packs were given to those wanting advice. Staff veterans from the Navy and RAF also came along and offered their support.

The Airedale Hospital NHS Trust is also celebrating its re-accreditation of the Silver award for the Employer Recognition Scheme. The award is given by the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in recognition of support given to the armed forces community.  The Trust is now working towards the Gold award, the highest level, and has recently increased the special leave policy to support reservists and adult cadets to provide extra paid leave for their annual training.

Martin has also recently put together 'Boredom Buster' packs for veterans who’ve been admitted to Airedale Hospital. In the packs are DAB radios, magazines and puzzle books, all provided with the support of Saafa, the Armed Forces Charity, Amazon UK and The Royal Yorkshire Regiment Association and Veterans. Any veteran or their family can get in touch with Martin or ask on their ward to access a pack while they’re in hospital.

Martin is an ex-serviceman himself and served in the Army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for 10 years, on both active service and peacekeeping tours around the world. He is now in receipt of a War Disability Pension for physical ailments which occurred while serving and received support from the Hidden Wounds service for his mental health, providing him with a good understanding of the challenges some people from the Armed Forces community may experience.

Martin’s role is supported by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and has been jointly-funded by the Covenant Fund Trust and NHS England, who awarded almost £2 million in 2021 to help support our most vulnerable ex-armed forces in acute hospital settings throughout the UK.

He joined Airedale as the Armed Forces Advocate in November 2022 and works to identify and talk to ex-armed forces or serving personnel that come into the hospital, or are staff, and their immediate families, to see if there is any additional support that could help. He has already supported over 200 people from the Armed Forces community in his first year. Martin has also been raising the profile of the Armed Forces by training staff on veteran-specific needs to ensure that the community are supported and never disadvantaged when receiving care.

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