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Vital service celebrates its fourth birthday

​An organisation that offers vital health and wellbeing support to veterans and those with complex mental health needs is marking its fourth birthday by expanding the services it offers so that it can help even more people.

Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing, which is supported by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), was set up by Army veteran Luke Woodley after he overcame post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which resulted from his experiences in the field.

Since then, it has begun offering a range of additional and innovative services for ex-military personnel and others with complex needs. These include the Veterans' Stabilisation Programme, which is provided in partnership with NSFT and offers group support to ex-Forces personnel, and Paw Support, which pairs veterans with rescue dogs in need of a good home.

In addition, it also provides a Community Response Team, which sees four specially equipped vehicles taking specialist mental health support to people in crisis out of hours across Norfolk and Waveney.

Now, to celebrate the Walnut Tree’s fourth birthday on 19 July, the community interest company is expanding to take on more room at its new base at Ketteringham Hall, near Wymondham, so that it can offer more services to more people.

This includes trauma re-enactment therapy, which sees groups of men re-enact traumatic events, which have caused their mental ill health in order to understand how it is affecting their feelings, reactions and psychological wellbeing.

The project was developed in Canada and has been spearheaded in England by Dr Roger Kingerlee, Senior Clinical Psychologist with NSFT. It was successfully piloted during June and will welcome its second group of delegates in September.

In addition, Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing is also developing new family support training for partners or family members living with a loved one with mental ill health, as well as a service aimed at helping people who are self-medicating with alcohol and prescription medication.

“It is quite humbling to see how Walnut Tree has developed,” said Luke. “It started life with me volunteering some of my time and has grown into a fully-fledged community interest company which has made a difference to hundreds of people’s lives.

“Walnut Tree has grown exponentially in the last four years, and has not only proved to be cost effective but also efficient. Our Community Response Team now operates four cars across Norfolk and Waveney and has saved 17 lives over the past 19 months, while the Veterans' Stabilisation Programme continues to receive excellent feedback and has had some phenomenal results.

“We have now widened our scope and no longer just work with veterans – we now support other groups as well, including those with complex mental health needs, and offer our services through a team of 25 volunteers and three directors.

“We are always looking for ways to further expand the services we provide and offer additional support to local people, and look forward to continuing to do so during the next four years and beyond.”

Hethersett Rugby Club is hosting a special event to raise funds towards Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing’s running costs on Saturday 28 July from 12.30pm. A team will turn out in Walnut Tree kits, kicking off at 2pm, while there will also be a variety of different entertainments for the whole family, including bouncy castles and refreshments.

Caption: Luke Woodley (right) with Dr Roger Kingerlee

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