PRIME Minister David Cameron has agreed to meet Colin Parry after it was revealed a vital programme provided by The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace supporting victims of terrorism is under threat.
‘Survivors for Peace’ has provided a lifeline for more than 500 victims including emergency services staff, veterans and survivors involved in the London 7/7 bombing and Troubles in Northern Ireland over the last 12 years.
But as the government has not provided funding and cash from the National Lottery is no longer available, it does not appear possible for the only dedicated programme for Great British victims to continue beyond April this year.
The news does not affect the overall charity but has been a massive blow to everyone involved as the cause was established following the 1993 Warrington bombing by parents Colin and Wendy Parry of 12-year-old victim Tim to help others.
Residents are now being called on to support the charity and help save the programme by donating through a lottery scheme to raise the £150,000 needed each year to keep the programme going.
Nick Taylor, foundation chief executive, said: “We work with many people every day who are all but forgotten by society.
“There are untold horrors in the way many people lost their loved ones or were injured.
“Their physical pain is often apparent but the less evident psychological hurt is also unbearable. We can all help.”
The charity wrote to David Cameron last week for help as groups in Northern Ireland are able to finance their activities from European and Government funding yet victims and survivors groups outside the country are not eligible.
However they were stunned to receive a reply encouraging them to search on the internet for funding.
After it was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions today, the PM has now agreed to meet Colin Parry.
Good news has also come in the form of Mayor of London pledging to fund a memorial service in Hyde Park for victims of 7/7 which the programme has organised in the past.
Nick Bent, Labour parliamentary candidate said: “The Peace Centre’s support for British victims of terrorism is unique and vital and has always enjoyed broad cross-party support, so David Cameron must knock heads together in Whitehall and get this problem fixed.”
Warrington South MP David Mowat added: “It is massively important that this iconic charity continues its work – the amount of money needed is small in the grand scheme of things.
"I hope to get the meeting date agreed in the next day or so."
TWO men who have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have spoken out over how important the ‘Survivors for Peace’ programme has been to them.
Former Warrington firefighter Mike McCue believes he would either be dead or in prison had it not been for Peace Centre staff’s help and said the funding news was ‘devastating’.
The 64-year-old turned to alcohol after being called to a harrowing car fire at Thelwall Viaduct which killed four members of the same family.
The dad-of-one said he felt ‘worthless’ leaving the service after 23 years having previously served with the military.
Mike, who now lives in Crewe but originally lived in Orford, called the centre 12 months ago for support and said it has changed his life drastically.
He added: “I was 17 when I was posted out to Aden (now known as Yemen).
“My officer was shot by a sniper and then he had a go at me and blew the sand bag up in front of my head.
“I was so frightened and was told shooting myself in the foot would get me out of it.
“I was brought up by a foster mum and decided I wanted to give something back to the community and becoming a firefighter seemed like a good way of doing it.
“I lost the ability to cope (after the incident on Thelwall Viaduct) which I’m ashamed to say.
“The whole family were unrecognisable and it destroyed me as a human being.”
Mike, whose wife Maureen was the nurse practitioner in charge of A&E when the Warrington bombing occurred, said handing in each piece of his uniform felt like it represented his pride, worth and respect and he left the fire service feeling like a ‘nobody’.
He added: “I substituted alcohol for medication.
“I loved my job including the risks and the camaraderie and worked with people all my life and not one of them has phoned me since.
“I became an outsider and was drinking, self-harming, took overdoses and got into trouble with the police.
“Coming to the centre a year ago has given me my worth back and puts your life into perspective.
“It’s help me understand I can’t work as a firefighter anymore but I’m still a person with worth.”
FORMER soldier Keith Hudson was diagnosed with PTSD after escaping a bomb in Northern Ireland with his family.
The Huyton man was living in Omagh for 18 months in the 1970s when screams rang out for everyone to leave the building.
His son, daughter and wife managed to escape the bomb unharmed but later during the Troubles the 64-year-old also suffered the trauma of nearly shooting five of his colleagues while they were out on patrol.
He added: “The officer told me nobody would be out that night and I very nearly killed them.
“I still have nightmares over it and the bombing.
“I lost two of my good friends in Northern Ireland and when I heard about one of them on the news I ran upstairs and was sick as a dog.
“It’s affected me ever since with the way I build friendships and getting to close to anybody.
“But if I had put my hand up and said something was wrong I would have been viewed a weak link in the Army and dangerous to myself and comrades.”
After 23 years service, his first contact with the Peace Centre was an e-mail from staff while he was the welfare officer for the Northern Ireland Veteran Association in 2003.
He added: “I had tried to commit suicide on two occasions but then at long last it was recognised I had PTSD.
“This is my sanctuary now and I was here twice a week when I stopped working in 2010.
“It was like a bullet hearing about the funding as this has been my saviour.”