CaptureA charity which provides extensive housing, employment and welfare support for veterans in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne has won a national award for its innovative approach to partnership working.

The Armed Forces’ & Veterans (AF&V) Launchpad, which runs Avondale House on the Byker Estate, won the Working Together category at the 2016 Soldiering On Awards.

Now in its sixth year, the awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals, groups and organisations who have supported the Armed Forces Community.  The winners of nine categories were announced in a glittering awards ceremony in London on Friday evening with a further three awards given at the discretion of the Soldiering On Through Life Trust trustees to a person(s) whose life and deeds have had a major effect on others.

Launchpad, which operates two veterans’ homes in Newcastle and Liverpool, has been in operation for two and a half years providing a safe environment helping residents to make a responsible transition from military to civilian life and addresses the issues that, for the majority of residents have led to homelessness and unemployment.

The home in Byker, which is owned by the Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association, includes 34 one-bedroom flats, a 3-bedroom house and communal facilities for leisure, training and IT services.  Residents who live in the accommodation for up to two years are given assistance by Launchpad to the services of another twenty or so wonderful and interlinked organisations that help improve their health, wellbeing, literacy, employability and financial management skills.

It gives them the opportunity to live independently whilst receiving support to build confidence and then find jobs, housing and gain new skills.  Within two years, they are expected to have established alternative accommodation elsewhere to match their employment and personal circumstances.

Major General David Shaw, Chair of the Launchpad trustees said: “We are delighted to receive this award in recognition of the service that we provide and the excellent work our staff and partnering agencies deliver to help these veterans turn themselves into contributing members of their community.

“Launchpad continues to grow from strength to strength and has clearly demonstrated its extraordinary commitment to work innovatively with other organisations for the good of veterans and the positive results this has had.”

Lord Astor of Hever DL, Patron Soldiering On Through Life Trust, said: “The Soldiering On Awards not only enable us to publicly repay a great debt of gratitude to Servicemen and women, their families and those who support them. They also keep front of mind the strong bond between the Services and civilian life. They highlight how we can learn from each other, as we continue to work together for many years to come for the good of society as a whole.”

Key partners that Launchpad are working together with to deliver the service at Avondale House in Byker include the BCT, Newcastle City Council, Veterans Welfare Service, Tyneside Armed Forces Community Outreach Service, Forward Assist, Royal British Legion and SSAFA the Armed Forces Charity.

Since its launch in August 2013, Launchpad’s achievements have been significant with 230 veterans passing through it or still resident.  72 veterans have gained employment so far and over 65, who otherwise might have become homeless, have been housed at Avondale House in Byker or at Speke House in Liverpool.  100% have received benefits and financial advice, 95% have received training for employment and 70% have undertaken community projects.