15
December
2016
|
12:01
Europe/Amsterdam

Winter packs keep homeless warm

Summary
Openreach engineer, James Martin, hopes to bring some Christmas cheer to the streets of Swansea this year.

Openreach engineer, James Martin, hopes to bring some Christmas cheer to the streets of Swansea this year.

He volunteers at a weekly soup kitchen in the city centre for Swansea’s homeless. And he’s collecting items for winter packs to keep them warm.

Many are ex-forces people, suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And that’s something James can relate to.

An army veteran living in Mumbles near Swansea, he then became a prison officer before joining Openreach, BT's local network business, as an engineer maintaining the network in and around the Swansea area six months ago.

James explains: “Seeing ex-forces people at the soup kitchen breaks my heart”.

“I struggled with PTSD when I left the forces and it wasn’t until friends confronted me that I opened up. It helped me get back to work. So I’ve volunteered my services as a ‘listener’ if these guys want someone to talk to.

“When you join the forces, everything is done for you. But you have to fend for yourself once you leave. And many end up on the streets.”

James is hoping colleagues will help with donations of hats, scarfs, gloves, thick socks and new underwear.

It was James’ wife Siany – a radio presenter for local commercial radio station The Wave who introduced him to volunteering.

As well as their involvement in the soup kitchen, they’re supporting her radio station’s annual Christmas Cash 4 Kids appeal.

“I’m helping out again this year by manning the phones at the telephone auction and taking down details of the bids,” says James.

“We’ve got three children and this appeal is close to our hearts.”