A new café to support Armed Forces veterans got off to a flying start in Leyland at the weekend.
More than 30 people called into to Roccoco Coffee Lounge, Chapel Brow, on Saturday for the first monthly Veterans’ Café.
Among them were 20 vets who enjoyed a cuppa and a chat with fellow ex-servicemen and women and representatives of support organisations.
The café came about after Phil Burton, a former Royal Artillery Lance Bombardier, came to South Ribble Council to ask if it could help to co-ordinate veterans’ support services better.
“When people are in the Forces, there is a brotherhood that the military depends on to get the job done, but servicemen and women lose that when they leave the service and it can lead them to feel lonely - that’s when problems develop,” said Mr Burton, 41, of Leyland.
“There is support there, but many organisations act independently from one another, and the café brings it all together.
“I was absolutely delighted with how many people came along on Saturday. The feedback we received was that the monthly café is something Leyland needs.”
Guests on Saturday included a motorcycle veterans group as well as representatives from the Royal British Legion and the Armed Forces charity - Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Families Association and other organisations promoting employment opportunities in education and the NHS.
South Ribble Council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in November 2012, promising a commitment to help veterans and those serving in the military.
Representing the council on Saturday were Mayor of South Ribble, councillor Linda Woollard, and the council’s Armed Forces Champion, councillor Alan Ogilvie.
Councillor Ogilvie said: “It was great to see so many people there, including veterans from all walks of life.
“The big challenge now will be getting the message out there to other veterans so they can come along to the next café.
“If you know anyone who is a veteran, please let them know about it, because this café was initiated by veterans for veterans and we want to reach out to as many people as possible.”
The next Veterans’ Café takes place at Roccoco on Saturday, 6 May from 10am to 1pm, and they will then run on the first Saturday of every month.
For more information, contact South Ribble Council’s Partnership Manager Howard Anthony on 01772 625 546 or via email@example.com