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WWTW provide ‘Lifeline’ to family during coronavirus pandemic

Despite the disruption brought by the coronavirus pandemic, the team at WWTW have continued to support our veterans and their families. In this next blog, hear from a family who are being supported through our NCCP Programme in the North East.


'When we first contacted WWTW, we didn't realise how much help we actually needed. Although I’d say that we are a happy strong family, we are facing our own struggles and issues. The team at WWTW helped us to readdress our issues and work through them; enabling us to build better relationships with each other. 

Our family is a crazy one, Gareth (Gaz), my husband, served in the Amy for 4 years. He was injured in 2002 and has multiple injuries including an above knee amputation, sacral plexus damage and internal injuries. I am a full time carer for Gaz and our youngest child. I met Gaz when he was in Headley court receiving treatment for his injuries, I worked in the NAAFI at the time and we ended up moving together to the North East.

For years we were told we couldn't have children due to Gaz’s injuries, but in 2009 we had the fantastic news that I was pregnant! Fast forward 11 years, we have 4 beautiful children aged between 2 & 10 years old. Our youngest child was born with a genetic condition called 22q11 Deletion Syndrome. He was diagnosed in June 2019, just before he turned 2 years old. As a family, we are still very much learning about this condition and learning what he can and can't do.  It’s hard, along with Gaz’s disabilities, but we all pull together and support him as best we can.

WWTW has given us a lifeline. They have enabled us to get funding for a Makaton course, a type of sign language to help us communicate with our little boy. The course has totally changed how we communicate with him and he now gets less frustrated when trying to talk to us because we can now understand a little better what he is trying to say. WWTW also sent us on two breaks to Calvert Kielder, one of the partners of the Northern Care Coordination Programme. These breaks have been the kids favourite part of our support. I broke down in tears after our first visit, it was amazing watching the kids laugh all weekend.  There were no division in abilities, no one was left out of any activity and everyone just had fun, we were a family with no limitations for the weekend.

For Gaz, the support has been about finding himself again. Gaz struggled with PTSD for a number of years and he was a shell of his former self. Gaz is naturally quite competitive and after his service, he enjoyed participating in high energy sports, however, his injuries meant that he had to stop taking part.  WWTW have helped him find himself again through getting out, meeting people and rediscovering his love of fishing and volunteering.

Despite all of the support from WWTW, we have felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to our youngest child’s health condition, we are having to shield (the family are not to go out the house at all) for 12 weeks. This has just been extended to 18 weeks. This has left us struggling with a number of issues including food shopping, keeping the children entertained, home schooling and getting to hospital appointments.

I registered with gov.uk, spoke to Simon from WWTW and leaned on friends for support. I ordered home schooling materials for my children and carried out research into the support that we are eligible for. We set up a home schooling corner and decided we can do this and we will do this. We have been in isolation for 8 weeks now and I must say we are rocking it! We’ve set up film nights in our garden, held a VE Day celebration tea party, done lots of baking with the children and set-up structured home schooling sessions too.

Our military family, old and new has really shown us, we are just that, a 'military family'. We have had veterans and charities like WWTW checking in on us. WWTW has formed a private WhatsApp group to share information and to help us all encourage each other to stay positive. The amazing community spirit amongst the military community has been overwhelming. We have many things in place now and feel happier and a little more settled during these uncertain times. Yes, it has been hard and at times, I have just wanted to cry, but we are safe and together.'

Find out more about the NCCP Programme