A charity which provides accommodation and targeted support to help veterans stabilise their lives is proving to be a valuable service according to a recent survey.
Launchpad supported 152 homeless and unemployed veterans last year across its two sites in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Liverpool.
Launchpad has provided many veterans with a lifeline to help them cope with the transition from military to civilian life.
The survey, which was completed by over 50 male residents living within the two Launchpad houses, highlighted some of the welfare, financial, housing and health issues some of our veterans face when leaving the forces.
At Launchpad’s Avondale House in Byker, 94% of veterans felt the support Launchpad provided was help they didn’t feel they could get elsewhere while a staggering 65% said they had felt abandoned by the country they served – until they came to Launchpad.
Prior to contacting Launchpad, 62% of veterans were sleeping rough and 73% said they moved from sofa to sofa. 73% stated they relied on food banks while 39% felt suicidal.
Thanks to the specialist housing and support provided by Launchpad, veterans can live in safe, secure accommodation for up to two years to get their lives back on track with the wonderful support of other organisations before moving on to live independently.
Launchpad is backed by several funding partners to provide the support veterans need to address often complex, deep-seated issues that have led or contributed to their situation.
In addition to providing housing in 31 self-contained flats at Avondale House, the charity supports residents to help them claim their benefit entitlements.
The survey revealed that after receiving specially tailored support, 94% of veterans felt they were better able to find long-term accommodation, 88% felt their wellbeing has improved, 95% were more optimistic about life while 89% had boosted their skills and 96% felt less excluded from society and were better able to manage their money.
This was very much echoed by 35-year-old Stephen Gibbon who is a resident at Launchpad’s Avondale House. Stephen served in the Army for nine years and gained the rank of Lance corporal. He completed tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq but later suffered from PTSD.
After the army, he found it hard to cope and lost his job as a HGV driver, resulting in him losing his car and family at the same time, He suddenly found himself homeless, in debt and turned to drugs and alcohol. Launchpad not only provided him with safe and secure accommodation, but also gave him the support he needed to turn his life around.
Within the space of two years, Stephen is in a much better place. He has cleared his debt, returned to work, attended rehabilitation courses for drugs and alcohol and completed training and therapy sessions. He is back in contact with his children, is in a relationship and is ready to own his own home again.
David Shaw, CEO and Co-founder of Launchpad, said: “The results of the survey demonstrate the valuable support and service our staff and partner organisations provide to veterans. Our veterans’ houses, Avondale House in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Speke House in Liverpool, can accommodate up to 80 residents at any one time and we will welcome a further 40 new veterans this year as those with us now move on. We now have direct mental health support for veterans in each house.
“Since 2013, we have supported 385 veterans, of which 48% have found paid employment and 60% have moved on to long-term, settled accommodation.
“As the survey has highlighted and in Stephen’s case in particular, we do make a difference but we couldn’t do it without our partners and funders. It costs us over £3,500 after rent per year, per veteran we support, but it is reassuring that the survey demonstrates the positive outcomes our service delivers.”
The partners who support Launchpad are: Newcastle City Council, Big Lottery, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Royal British Legion, Veterans’ Foundation, Forces Employment Charity, Addaction, Crisis Skylight, the NHS, SSAFA, Speke Training and Education Centre and Combat Stress, among many others.