Ex-service members urged to take part in research

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Ballymena and Antrim people who were in the armed forces should share experiences of service life and its aftermath, a local councillor has urged.

Ulster Unionist Stephen Nicholl has welcomed the news that the University of Ulster and Queens University have secured funding to conduct two separate studies into the experiences of the service community in Northern Ireland, and urged people to engage with the research projects.

Cllr Stephen Nicholl. INBT 22-147JC

Cllr Stephen Nicholl. INBT 22-147JC

Councillor Nicholl, who sits on Mid & East Antrim Council said: “Ballymena is synonymous with service in the Armed Forces and many veterans also live in the Antrim area.

“I know from the welfare work that I do that many require additional support due to their service but sometimes find that the support they need is not available.

“As a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment I am well aware that those who joined effectively served night and day during their service and long after as the threat on their lives remained. It is important that the scale of this service is acknowledged and the impact is measured.

“I therefore welcome the news that the University of Ulster has secured a major grant of over £355,000 from the Forces in Mind Trust to conduct a study into the support and needs of the service community in Northern Ireland. It will look at healthcare and mental health needs as well as determine the size of the service and ex-service community in Northern Ireland. Over a three year period it will map out those who served their country in the Army, Air Force and Navy including those who served in the UDR and the Royal Irish Regiment Home Service Battalions.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to the Ulster University Research in confidence should contact Dr Cherie Armour at Ulster University via email on c.armour1@ulster.ac.uk