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PCC sees how veterans are benefiting from cash seized from criminals


Woody's Lodge

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin visited Woody’s Lodge in Eirias Park Colwyn Bay on May 10 to learn more about the organisation’s valuable work with Armed Forces veterans in the local community and to see how money taken from criminals is being used for the good of the people of North Wales.

Woody’s Lodge is a communications and social hub for veterans, emergency services personnel, reservists and their families, and it has a base in North, as well as South Wales. Woody’s Lodge was one of the recent winners of the Your Community, Your Choice funding awards and the grant is helping to part-fund a Support Officer for Armed Forces veterans who are homeless and have been released from prison, or have been through the judicial system. The Your Community, Your Choice fund supports grass-roots projects and is supported by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police.

The Support Officer assists in applying for and obtaining benefits and pensions the veterans are entitled to while looking to improve the quality of life for them and their families. The grant will also fund equipment and transport costs to the organisation’s rural sites across North Wales for veterans to engage with local communities. This will allow them the opportunity to use their skill sets for the benefit of those communities by being involved in projects such as gardening.

While at the drop-in session at Woody’s Lodge, Andy Dunbobbin met veterans being supported by the organisation, as well as Woody’s Lodge CEO, Graham Jones; Alexandra Woodward, the Support Officer funded by the Your Community, Your Choice award; and other members of staff. The PCC is the former Flintshire Armed Forces champion, so the issue of veterans’ support is one that is very important to him.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin said: “It was an honour to visit Woody’s Lodge and to see their vital work at first hand. Their project aims to prevent re-offending by helping veterans to reintegrate into the community, in turn helping to reduce social isolation, improve self-esteem, and give a sense of purpose. It's very fitting that the funding for Your Community, Your Choice should come partly from money seized from criminals, which shows that these funds can be put to good use for the benefit of the wider community.”

Graham Jones, CEO, Woody’s Lodge, commented: “It was a pleasure to welcome the PCC to Woody’s Lodge and show him the work we are doing in the community. We were delighted to be selected in the public vote for the Your Community Your Choice grant. The Veterans community in North Wales will not only benefit from the award but it shows that there is support in the general community for our former service men and women.

“Veterans often feel that they do not fit in with their local communities and the success of Woody’s Lodge in this public vote goes a long way to proving public support for their service in the HM Armed Forces.”

PACT Chairman Ashley Rogers stated: “Projects like Woody’s Lodge are the life blood for improving communities across North Wales, making them safer and more resilient places to live. Woody’s Lodge is a great example of this in action and it’s a pleasure to be able to support them through Your Community, Your Choice.”

North Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Chris Allsop said: “This is an important project which is making a big difference to the lives of veterans across North Wales. The services Woody’s Lodge provide in terms of offering support to veterans in need is much valued, and I am sure their project will also offer many benefits to the wider community of North Wales.”

Your Community, Your Choice is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2023 and, over the past ten years, a total of over £500,000 has been awarded to more than 150 projects working to reduce crime in their areas and to support the priorities in the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan. The funding for Your Community, Your Choice comes partly from money seized by the courts through the Proceeds of Crime Act, with the rest from the Police and Crime Commissioner. 

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