THE daughter of a former Worcester mayor has used his legacy to help transform the life of veterans.

Dawn Turner used money left to her by dad Ray to create a charity in a bid to help others after her father, brother and sister all died in a short space of time  

Just four months later, Ms Turner and partner Perminder Kundi are about to expand their charity, Stepway, thanks to 'amazing support' in the city.

The couple decided to try to help veterans because both Ms Turner's sons have served, and her late father, Ray Turner – mayor of Worcester in 1992 – was a Korean veteran.

Ms Turner said she was also spurred on by her own experience after her sister killed herself, her brother lost his battle with alcoholism and her father died of a broken heart after losing his wife - all in the same year.

Ms Turner said: "The grief and loss spurred me on even more. I want to use my experience to help others. If I can save one person it will have all been worthwhile."

She added: "Some veterans find it incredibly hard to adapt to civilian life. They become indoctrinated as soldiers, they live in survival mode and follow orders. They are so used to regiment and discipline that when they come back onto civvy street they are met with overwhelming freedom and many fall through the net.

"Veterans often end up homeless, in prison or with substance misuse issues.

"Most suffer with complex mental health issues such as PTSD and without support cannot be expected to reintegrate into society. Some of our boys left the army when they were young men and are coming to us in their 50s having been battling with PTSD and trauma alone for years."

Ms Turner and Mr Kundi believed the 23,000 veterans in Worcester were falling through the cracks after being signposted to different places and services.

Now, Stepway provides a drop in centre every Thursday at the Salvation Army and also delivers a seven-step civilian skills programme every Tuesday at the Guildhall.

Their charity offers a multitude of support under one roof and they are working with the NHS, the Foodbank, Relate, DWP, Swanswell and both the city and county council to give veterans access to all that they need.

Mr Kundi said he had never served but had become immersed in veterans' stories.

He said: "It astonishes me how veterans actually suffer. They are far too strong willed to ask for help, even when they desperately need it.

"I get such a buzz from watching them transform in front of my eyes. We had one guy who lived out in the sticks and was essentially trapped because he was too anxious to use the bus. We started taking him food packages down and now he comes and engages with us. He burst into the drop-in the other day to tell us he had taken the bus. Another chap came in and didn't speak to anyone, his eyes were fixed on his shoes. Now he is the life and soul. It's brilliant."

Ms Turner said: "I am really passionate about the work that we do. I wanted to set up a charity that worked on the ground level and thanks to the amazing support we have received from the community we have managed to achieve that and more in just a few months. It is vital that our service is accessible we have in house counselling services and mentors and advocates that go above and beyond for our vets. It is about letting them know we have their back."

Service user Sammy Roscoe is now training to be a Stepway case worker.

She said: "Anyone that knows me, knows that I struggled massively after leaving the army.

"I honestly thought and still do to a certain degree – the army was the only place that I ever really truly fitted in. I like many others, didn’t look past my military career, because let’s face it - why would I? I naively thought I would always be looked after.

"How very wrong I was! I was at rock bottom when I left.

"I lost absolutely everything but the most important thing I lost was my mental health.

"I remember approaching many organisations, which were happy to throw money at me - but at a complete loss as to what they could offer me emotionally.

"What I needed back then was a lifeline. Someone who understood how I was feeling. Someone who would show me there was a life outside and most importantly show me how to move forward.

"I am so very lucky to have come across Stepway. I believe they are going to change so many lives, mine included. I have finally found my place in civvy street and hope I can help others to not have to go through what I did when I left."

Stepway are holding their first ever veteran community day at the pod in Crowngate on Friday February 28. Everyone is welcome.