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Community / Army veteran hopes chat and cuppa will help those feeling lonely

Ian Walterson is starting a new informal group to raise mental health awareness

A LOCAL army veteran is looking to establish an informal group to bring people together after the combined isolation brought on by the Covid pandemic and Shetland’s winter months.

Ian Walterson hopes bringing people together for a hot drink and a friendly chat will help some to address the issue of loneliness and day-to-day worries that he feels exist in Shetland.

Ian Walterson.

His ‘Sunshine Club’ will meet for the first time on Saturday 2 April in the TA Hall at Fort Charlotte, Lerwick between 11am and 1pm.

Free tea, coffee and biscuits will be available, and all are welcome.

“I really want to try to bring people back out into the community after these unprecedented times,” Walterson said.

“After a long dark winter and the two-year Covid pandemic, when we’ve not been able mix and socialise, and I’d hope that we can get folk together and help some people to feel better about themselves.

“I’d just like people to come out of their homes and meet up in a safe friendly environment for a chat and a cuppa with likeminded people.”

Walterson said through time some group activities like walks may be organised, and guest speakers may be invited to give advice.

Walterson served 22 years in the British Army, while he also spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered his own mental health issues as a result.

“We talk a lot about the strength of the community in Shetland, but it’s been hard for everyone for the last couple of years,” he said.

“I have my own experiences of depression and PTSD and I know what it’s like to feel lonely and isolated.

“I’m sure there are many in Shetland who are keen to get out of the house and to meet and connect with other people.”