COMMITMENT TO THE ARDS BUSINESS COMMUNITY AWARD
Having learned of the call for nominations for this year`s Commitment to the Ards Business Community Award. I am writing to endorse a highly suitable individual Mr Robert McCartney. He has exceeded the challenging requirements and expectations for the Award. Mr McCartney`s ambition, personal experience and accomplishments precisely compliment the Veterans Community which he serves in Newtownards and geographically throughout N.I. This makes him, in my view, highly deserving of the honour of the above named Award.
As an ex-serviceman himself he suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has worked tirelessly for over three years now and constantly strived with no salary to open a much needed Veterans Centre called Beyond the Battlefield in Newtownards Co. Down. This is a One Stop Shop for all ex-service people such as: Navy, Army, Royal Air Force, Police and Emergency Services, of which he is a BACP Registered Counsellor and is Chairman of the Charity. Robert counsels Veterans coming back from Global Conflicts and offers support by way of War Pensions, Benefits, he also deals with Homelessness, Military Funerals, covers Tribunals in the High Court for the Veterans and much more. Robert also works with comorbidity and mental health issues such as : stress, alcohol abuse, drugs, domestic abuse, suicidal tendencies, bereavement issues and financial difficulties. Currently Robert works with up to 25 Veterans a week.
He has lobbied Central and Local Government, carried out much research as to how the Military mind works, involved local GP`s and Health Boards to help the prevention of Veterans and Victims taking unnecessary drugs for their trauma and related comorbidity issues. He continues to liaise with Jim Shannon MP for Strangford, Government Ministers and is in contact by letter to the Prime Minister and also had a recent visit from The Veterans Minister to the Centre.
He has no boundaries when it comes to his work in the Ards Business Community and putting Newtownards on the map through BBC Television and Radio amongst other media services, he targets all Service leavers. Robert is currently expanding into talks with the Police and the Department of Justice to establish how many veterans are currently in Prison or on Probation. How many are being arrested, the type of crimes which they are being arrested for, the age of offenders and how many are repeat offenders. He requests that these people are signposted to himself to enable assessment of trauma and offer his management and counselling expertise to these veterans so that he may then deal with all their issues on a one to one basis.
In relation to the young people of the Community, Robert is developing a learning package for local schools and students as a series of lectures informing them of life in the Services. The challenges that service people and their families are faced with. How life after the Services is effecting people in the Community and how our young people and students may become involved in helping these families readjust into a more measured form of civilian life.
Robert never places time limits or restricts the length of sessions required by Individuals. He works with veterans and their families to ensure a smooth transition and integration into the community again, giving them a sense of pride and self-worth. Robert also offers these individuals engagement with the staff and volunteering services at Beyond the Battlefield and gives them opportunities and practices and great life skills for returning to work. Robert strives to give his team clear visions and puts strategies in place that enables the Charity to have an open door policy for all veterans and their families to reach him 24/7 in the event of their many unexpected problems and issues with regards to their health, Welfare and their social needs, even on Xmas Day!
He has built up a reputation to the extent that Major Charities, The Military welfare Officers and Services now use him as a point of contact and vast knowledge when faced with problems beyond their obligation. Robert has continued to diversify into areas concerning the Charity such as housing, retraining for employment, sourcing specialist help for medical needs and continuously applies for grants to help adapt the Homes of disabled Veterans.
Furthermore Robert has made a remarkable contribution to our communities at large and helps not just our Veterans but has recently had great success in counselling so many young people, with great success, who have been troubled by drug addiction. A few months ago in Newtownards, another 17 year old boy in our community was found dead at the roadside because he had taken drugs. Robert dropped everything he was involved in to take time to contact local MP Jim Shannon and local newspapers to offer his counselling services to those young peers and the families in our community needing help, once again at no cost to anyone. Robert has made a tremendous difference in deterring these young people from taking drugs and steering them towards a greater recognition of what life should be like for a teenager and how their future can look so much brighter.
Above all, Robert was very seriously injured in a motor accident three years ago and had to undergo major back surgery to save his mobility and physical progress in life. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and had to have titanium rods inserted into his neck and spine. He suffers much pain on a daily basis and yet has an absolute dedication and commitment to his Veterans Centre and anyone in our Community who can avail of his services. Since opening on the Jubilee Road Roberts goal was to open the Old Town and Country Building on Regent Street Newtownards as a One Stop Shop Veterans Centre, which he has just signed to move into! The premises facilitate every need the Service Leavers and their families would ever need, including accommodation for the homeless. Not to mention the employment, marketing and awareness and of course the opportunities he is bringing to Newtownards Town. As mentioned earlier Robert does all of this as a volunteer and receives no salary from the Charity.
Robert has secured
£3.2 Million in pensions
£1.6 Million Compensations
Secured homes for 23 families
Rehoused 11 homeless veterans
64 veterans back to work
Counselled 78 veterans
15 Successful Tribunals with an increase of 20% in their pensions
Has offered Couples counselling.
Many local enthusiasts go unnoticed however, I believe these characteristics are so un-selfless and represent all that is good. I am delighted to nominate such a worthy person, I am confident that you will agree that Robert is a most deserving candidate for this Award.
Please feel free to contact me for any additional information you may require.
Annemarie Hastings 07525726617 02891225610