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Home for hurt soldiers' families

24 February 09 15:38 GMT

A home where families of injured soldiers can stay close to where relatives are being treated is to open.

Norton House, near the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, opens on Friday.

It is the second home for relatives run by Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help.

Conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq has led to more troops with serious injuries.

The association said the RCDM was the first-port of call for injured personnel returning to the UK and the majority of their families lived far away, making finding accommodation and childcare an "added stress at a very difficult time".

'Never slept'

Gilly Wiggins and Frances Shine, both mothers of soldiers treated at the Birmingham hospital, are supporting the project which they said would prove "invaluable".

Mrs Shine stayed in hospital accommodation while her son Stephen spent eight weeks at the hospital after losing his leg in a roadside explosion in Iraq in 2007.

She said: "I never slept for weeks. I'd come back to the room and then the whole enormity of the situation would just hit you."

SSAFA Help, raised £5m to create the Birmingham home and another in Surrey, which opened last year.

Lt Col Phil Carter, Commanding Officer of RCDM Clinical Unit, said SSFA Norton House would provide a "much needed home from home" for families as they supported their loved ones through the early phases of recovery.

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