A whopping £2.5 million will be awarded to a disabled veterans employment charity in Richmond in this week’s budget.

Supporting veterans with health conditions or impairments since 1922, The Poppy Factory works with businesses across the country to provide opportunities and ongoing employment support for hundreds of disabled veterans, of all ages and from all Services.

The money will help fund a renovation of the factory, which employs 36 disabled veterans and produces 7.5 million poppies each year, along with wreaths for the Royal Family and The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Prince Harry at Westminster Abbey's Field of Remembrance in London to honour the fallen. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA WirePrince Harry visits the 89th Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey to remember those in the Armed Forces who lost their lives

The employment charity expanded in 2010 to support veterans with disabilities into employment across England and Wales and has so far helped more than 800 wounded, injured or sick veterans into meaningful employment.

Chief executive of The Poppy Factory Deidre Mills said: “We are delighted that we can begin the process of transforming our factory into an accessible, inclusive and educational space for the disabled veterans who work here and for the wider local community.

“Our employment service helps get veterans with mental and physical health conditions back into work and as such helps restore financial independence and make a positive difference to veterans’ lives.”

Shaun Johnson is an armed service veteran who served 12 years in the Royal Artillery before his hand was crushed.

He said: “I had just come back from an active tour of duty and survived that.

“Then I was posted to a ceremonial horse unit in London and crushed it on an artillery gun.

“So I had to leave in 1995, kicking and screaming; I was gutted and still quite young.”

Shaun, who came from a military family and joined the services when he left school, had intended to serve 22 years.

His transition to “civvy life” was a “massive struggle”.

He said: “When I left the military it was like a completely new world.

“When you’re in it you have a brotherhood unmatched to anywhere else.

“People are looking after each other all the time, you do it automatically, you don’t even think about it.

“When you’re in civvy street everything changes.

“You join the military and it’s like a switch being turned on, you’re ready, you’re trained as soldiers, you’re on the edge all the time.

“When you come out it’s like somebody’s forgot to turn the switch off.”

One of the first things Shaun started to experience when he left was paranoia.

He said: “For 12 years we were used to searching cars for explosive devices because there was a bombing campaign on and they were trying to kill off-duty soldiers.

“I was still searching my car for 12 months after I left.”

Shaun said this is very common with veterans, and when he was serving the way soldiers would deal with stress would be to socialise together with a drink.

He said: “It’s not encouraged now but it certainly was back then.

“When I thought times were tough, I’d go and have a drink.

“Unfortunately, it takes you down a dark path.”

Shaun struggled for 13 years with mental health issues after he left.

He said: “You also have relationship issues, you don’t let anyone close to you. You build a wall around you.

“And it’s trusting other people, I didn’t trust anyone other than my military family.

“You start to have mental health problems you’re not aware of.

“I wasn’t acknowledging it- I thought ‘I’ll be better tomorrow’.”

Mental health problems are higher in the military than the general population, with the most common disorders including anxiety, stress, panic and adjustment disorder, mood disorders, and alcohol misuse.

Shaun said: “We’ve got lads on the street who are homeless, going into prisons, and I was in that category but I didn’t realise it- until I got very ill mentally.”

Now Shaun, who joined The Poppy Factory nine years ago and works as the first port of call for disabled veterans who ring in to get help, says things are getting better.

He said: “Today we’re acknowledging it a lot earlier, we’re educating our guys to be more aware of mental health, we’re saying don’t do things on your own.

“If you’ve got a problem let’s talk about it.

“When I came out there was none of that, I didn’t know where to turn and spent a lot of time on my own.”

He said working at The Poppy Factory has changed his life: “I’d never worked in a factory before but I liked the idea of going in temporarily, make some poppies and wreaths, have a laugh with the guys, feeling a bit safe, and then potentially going back to my old job at the Home Office.

“I’m still here nine years later and I don’t go to work because it’s a paid job, I go because it’s a privilege to talk to veterans on the phone every day, with different challenges, and be able to say to them ‘I understand, let’s get you sorted’.

“It’s priceless.”

Shaun, who said the Poppy Factory has been “so supportive” of him, believes the £2.5 million will make a “massive difference”.

He said: “I can’t wait, it’s fantastic news- everyone is buzzing.”