AN ANDOVER-based charity has been awarded more than £130,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England to launch a new volunteers project involving military veterans.

Test Valley Community Services (TVCS) will be working alongside Valley Leisure and Veterans in Action to recruit military volunteers for sport and physical activity in Andover, turning useful skills from active duty into help with coaching, engineering, first aid and more within the community.

Sport England has awarded TVCS £137,417 through its Opportunity Fund, which encourages people to volunteer to help tackle challenges in their area, while also benefitting from developing their own skills, confidence and experience.

Valley Leisure community health development manager Liz Murray said: “We are really excited to be working with TVCS on this one after working to enable as many people as possible to be more active, a lot of feedback we get is volunteers are a critical part of enabling people.

“Whether that’s due to the meet and greet or ongoing support, for us the fact that we can harness service persons who are about to be discharged or have just been discharged is enormous as they have credible skillsets.

“This project has lightened my eyes and has showed me the challenges military veterans face coming out of service such as alcoholism and homelessness, and hopefully we can support them as well to transition back into civilian life which is usually filled with anxiety and apprehension.”

The project, still in its planning phase, was officially announced today (Friday).

TVCS chief executive Terry Bishop said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant. It provides the opportunity to expand our existing volunteer centre into new areas, helping veterans put their considerable skills to good use to help people of all ages get active.

"Together with our partners, Valley Leisure and Veterans in Action, we would like to thank Lottery players for making it possible.”

This is currently one of 32 projects Sport England is investing over £4 million to support volunteering from now until 2021.