Iraq veteran renews appeal to save Audley Court
Newport councillor and Iraq veteran Thomas Janke has renewed his call to save the Audley Court veterans' mental health centre.
Following the closure, in 2017, of respite services at the Newport centre, run by charity Combat Stress, the building is currently partially in use as a coronavirus vaccination centre, as well as providing some remote online counselling by the charity.
"I am delighted to see Audley Court being used for this vital vaccination service at this time," emphasised Cllr Janke. "The NHS and local healthcare providers are doing an amazing job. What a shame it would be if, after the pandemic, this great facility went back to being largely unused for clinical purposes."
A petition launched by Cllr Janke has so far attracted almost 800 signatures.
Cllr Janke is calling on local government and other agencies to help ensure the building can be bought and leased to charities to provide respite and outpatient services as a regional hub. Campaigners are also requesting that the Charities Commission contest any change of use that might allow sale of the building for other purposes.
"The demand for mental health provision for veterans remains high, and now added to this we will have NHS and care workers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, following the coronavirus pandemic. There seems to me to be an opportunity to provide our NHS heroes with the care they deserve, too."
Campaigners, including Cllr Janke, have appealed repeatedly to Veterans' Minister Johnny Mercer to intervene to help bring back respite services to Newport, a request so far unheeded. Cllr Janke is now hopeful that local agencies working together can find a solution for respite care.
"Pleas to national government have fallen on deaf ears and we are now asking the local authority to step in and help ensure this site continues to provide vital services," highlighted Cllr Janke.
Cllr Janke is also calling on MPs across the West Midlands to join the campaign to re-establish Audley Court as a hub for veterans across the region.