‘It can hit you at any time in your life’ – Salford cop battling PTSD sets up veterans center

A police officer who fought in the Gulf War is building a café for former servicemen and women in Salford. Eccles local police officer Carl Blower has secured a unit at the Eccles Shopping Center and plans to turn it into The Salford Veterans Community Centre.

The 52-year-old dad of three says he was inspired to build one through his first-hand experience of what PTSD can do to you and provide a service that will help people with their mental health. Carl served in the military for 13 years and fought in the Gulf War in the air force, he says that over time he has had to battle with PTSD and has witnessed the devastating affect war has had on his colleagues and civilians.

I have told the MAN: “I have slight PTSD through the Gulf War and my time as a police officer, it can hit you at any time in your life, it’s like a trigger than can set you off. With myself, it’s around Christmas time when you see people enjoying themselves and you know, even though you were just doing your job, innocent families were caught up.

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“You have some sense of guilt and when you’re surrounded by people, especially in Christmas, you just know that people have had their lives ripped apart by war.”

PC Blower spent 13 years in the RAF

The unit is two floors and Carl and the team plan on building a 1940s themed café serving food and drink. The upstairs section of the café will be a community hub where residents, veterans and local police officers can hold meetings and seminars.

They also plan on building a referral room for veterans who have failed on hard times. Carl is hoping the café can be safe space for people to reach out to others, but also a place for the wider community to connect with their serving officers and firemen and women.

The café will be found on Eccles Shopping Center
The café will be found on Eccles Shopping Center

speaking to the MEN he said: “I find that there aren’t many services out there that assist with mental health. Here in Salford there’s a veteran’s breakfast club in Pendleton and they have roughly about 50 people that attend,

“A lot of the time they don’t get out and have interactions with the community. I want them to have that on a daily basis, somewhere that’s cozy and comfortable, where you can have a drink, some food and you can chat with people because that eases your mental health. Veterans sort of keep themselves to themselves and I want to create somewhere they can support each other.”

They need help putting the coffee together
They need help putting the coffee together

PC Blower hopes to open the cafe by June which is when he plans to retire after 20 years in the force. Carl and his partners have had keys to the unit for at least two weeks now and he says it is currently a ‘mess’ and they are looking for help from locals to whip it up into shape before they open.

He said: “I’m retiring from the police in June, so this is going to be my project for when I leave the police. At the moment it’s an absolute mess, I’m not a trades-person at all, I’ve done a majority of the work myself,

“But we need help from trades people that can give up some of their time. Anyone that’s handy and wants to get involved and help us out, and likewise with local businesses.”

If you’re interested in helping Carl you can email him at [email protected]


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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