Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson paid his respects to all who have lost their lives in conflict at events around the constituency on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Mr Esterson also paid tribute to those who have survived war and called for better support for Servicemen and women dealing with the after-effects of their often traumatic experiences in the armed forces.
The MP attended the Armistice Day service at Aintree’s Davenhill School on Saturday (November 11) which was the culmination of a week-long exhibition commemorating 100 years since World War One. On Saturday afternoon he spoke at The Atkinson in Southport’s Sefton At War event, and on Sunday (November 12) he was at Alexandra Park in Crosby to lay a wreath in remembrance.
The Davenhill school exhibition was the fourth in a series of five remembering the 1914-1918 conflict. This year’s exhibitiwhich has been visited by hundreds of people, focused on 1917, the year of Passchendaele and also the year the Americans joined the war. A religious service was held alongside, which was attended by the MP and Maghull mayor Cllr June Burns.
Both Cllr Burns and Mr Esterson visited The Atkinson in Southport for the Sefton at War event where the MP gave a speech on the role the old Moss Side Hospital in Maghull played in the understanding of mental health issues both directly after the war and subsequently. Representatives from the charity Veterans in Sefton also described the work they do in support of former Servicemen and women and their families.
Mr Esterson said: “I fully support the work done by Veterans in Sefton and I met one of its founders Dave Smith recently to hear about his plans to open a drop-in session in Maghull to add to others provided already across the borough.”
The Atkinson event also heard powerful stories about the experiences of veterans and about the support that Veterans in Sefton give. Mr Esterson said: “We also heard that all too often, those returning from serving our country do not receive the support from the government they need with housing, work or health, especially mental health for those with PTSD in particular.”
The MP gave a speech about the important history of the development of mental health treatment at Moss Side Hospital in Maghull from the First World War onwards. There were lectures and discussions outlining the vital role the hospital – now Ashworth Hospital - played in the development of mental health treatment.
Mr Esterson added: “It is vital that we support ex-servicemen and women who have given so much for our country and as we remember those who died, we should also remember and support those who survived and who were prepared to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.
“Mental health is a particular challenge for our veterans and it is the poor relation in the NHS. It is time that there was proper support for people with poor mental health especially veterans and I shall be using the story of Moss Side to remind other MPs and the government that they must keep their promises to improve services for anyone who is ill whether physical or mental.
“It was striking that at the Davenhill service and then again at the Alexandra Park service on Remembrance Sunday, we were reminded that remembrance was started as a reminder to stop further wars and that the poppy was chosen as a symbol of peace. In uncertain times, such a reminder is timely and those who are stirring feeling of antagonism, those who are pursuing violence around the world and those in our country who might consider any merit in engaging in war, would do well to remember that those who died and those who lived, those who served did so to ensure peace, not to encourage further war.”
Veterans in Sefton can be contacted on 0151 922 3552. They hold weekly drop in sessions and organise Naafi Breaks for former service personnel.