North East Connected

More North East veterans transforming their lives thanks to national lottery players

Ex-Forces personnel in County Durham are being given the skills and confidence to improve their lives thanks to national lottery players.

Local charity, Finchale’s “Reaching Communities” project supports veterans with mental health, homelessness, training and employment issues that have led to social isolation.

The three year project which was awarded £487,000 of national lottery funding in 2016 helps those that have previously served in the Armed Forces by providing customised packages of ongoing support within the community and aims to support over 200 individuals throughout the project.

Over the past year the Veterans Services Team at Finchale has helped more than 300 veterans; over 70 of which were as a direct result of the Big Lottery Fund. The team offer a tailored approach which enables them to respond to the varying needs and priorities of each individual they work with.

Former Lance Corporal Lea Glendenning, 43 from Durham first contacted Finchale’s Veterans Services in April 2017 having heard about the project on Facebook.

“I’d recently become unemployed at short notice” he said “and was really panicking about the lack of income and the impact that it was having on my family.”  

From an early age Lea’s aspiration was to join the British Army; proudly wanting to follow in his grandfathers’ footsteps. Within two years of enlisting into the Light Infantry Lea was promoted to Lance Corporal and went on to complete an exemplary seven years’ service. On leaving the military Lea volunteered with the local Army Cadets and was instrumental in supporting the parade which was present in the unveiling of the “Tommy” at Seaham in April 2014.

“I’m so glad I made that call – Angela (my Case Manager at Finchale) got straight to it. She really listened to all of my concerns and within a couple of days even managed to find funding to help pay for my fork lift truck licence, the ticket I needed to find work.” He said.

Another participant of the programme said;  

“When I first met Finchale I had only just been released from prison; I was offered help and support without being judged and treated with respect and understanding. I cannot describe how much they helped in my recovery. I start work on Monday!”

Angela Kelly Veterans Caseworker at Finchale said; each of the clients that I’ve worked with over the past year’ journey has been unique; no two clients or indeed days are ever the same.

Individuals have a whole host of support needs from help finding suitable training and work to more complex issues of sorting out housing which is often a symptom of underlying social problems including mental and physical health, relationship breakdowns and unemployment with many having absolutely no money for even the most basic amenities.

In a lot of cases there is no quick fix but I’m delighted that we are now starting to see some real results from the project with many individuals becoming more involved in their local communities; some gaining training and/or work and others accessing further healthcare support to enable them to move towards a brighter future.”

Andy Wildish; Veterans Service Manager at Finchale said; “This programme is all about helping veterans, who are often hard to reach to move from social isolation to a better future. Over the years Finchale has supported hundreds of people towards a better future across County Durham and we are looking forward to supporting hundreds more.

The door is always open so veterans and their families can come and have a chat with us. It’s down to the customers; whether it is help with securing funding for training, support finding a job or gaining wider support we will be there for them. “

For further information about Veterans Services at Finchale please contact 0191 386 2634 or email

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