ARMED forces charities, organisations and volunteers came together to start a new initiative supporting veterans and their families.

The Christchurch branch of the Royal British Legion hosted the event at their premises in Bargates as plans continue to expand for their East Dorset Veterans Hub mission.

Representatives from groups such as SSAFA (the Armed Forces charity), Royal Air Forces Association, Royal British Legion, Bournemouth War Memorial Homes, UK Homes for Heroes, Pilgrim Bandits, and The Veterans Forge, were on hand to showcase the service and assistance they provide.

Nick Williams, branch community support representative, said: "After conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of new charities have sprung up everywhere, with a wide representative of them here that are looking to help former servicemen and servicewomen that have different needs.

"They have mental health problems or housing problems but all these charities are working in their own areas to try to support the veterans in the community.

"What we can do here is set up this hub. There is one working very successfully in Weymouth and there is one in Southsea.

"We are slap bang in the middle and we can provide a one-stop shop for all former servicemen and servicewomen and their families with activities, a pop-up cafe and other bits and pieces, which link all the charities together, so we are all working to the same end."

Personal trainer Daniel Best also met visitors after launching his free veterans' fitness classes every other Saturday from 3.30pm to 5.30pm at the venue.

A cafe will open at the site on every Tuesday from 10am to 2pm, starting on September 10.

Andrew Cook, Christchurch branch of the Royal British Legion chairman, said: "We used to have a club downstairs. Just over two years ago that club closed. Generally when clubs attached to branches close, soon after the branch closes too but we didn't want to go down that line.

"What we want to do now is do what Legions need to be doing: Helping veterans and their families.

"If we are not doing that there is no point in us coming here. We need to be here helping the community." The legion branch is currently raising money specifically for a defibrillator, which once acquired will be installed on the exterior of the building, so it is also accessible for the community.

To find out more about the branch's work, email Mr Williams at