A CHARITY providing accommodation and support for homeless former services personnel has been recognised with a prestigious award.

Single Homeless: Action Initiative in Durham (SHAID) has been presented with The Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award, from the MoD’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS)

The ERS encourages employers to support the armed forces community, and inspire others to do the same. The scheme encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.

SHAID grew out of a 1993 seminar held to look into the needs of young single people. In 2011 SHAID opened St Peter’s Court in Sacriston, which now provides self-contained accommodation for 17 veterans. SHAID more recently opened further accommodation in its Hollyacre Centre which provides space for veterans and their families.

Tony Hammond, Project Manager at SHAID, said: “We’re delighted to have been recognised by The Armed Forces Covenant. Since we opened St Peter’s Court we’ve provided accommodation for hundreds of former armed services personnel, mainly from the UK, but from around the world too.

“There is a growing demand for our services, and I’m afraid the consequences of the Covid pandemic are only making the situation worse. Referrals come from local councils, the police, hospitals and the army.

“The family unit we opened last year has been in constant use and the addition of accommodation for whole families has been so important to us and those we help.”

SHAID is supported by many local organisations and companies, including Durham University, Foundation of Light, The Fans’ Museum, the Sir James Knott Trust, the British Legion and Grundfos, based in Castletown, Sunderland.

Catherine Attwell, HR Director at Grundfos, said: “We’ve been helping SHAID for a couple of years now, after an introduction by Foundation of Light. Brian Hopper, a manufacturing operator who used to be in the British Army, has played a leading role in suggesting how we can help.

“We’ve provided donations, furniture and we also sent a ‘Groundforce’ team to transform the gardens of St Peter’s Court and the Hollyacre Centre. Our employees are proud of their work in supporting SHAID and were thrilled to hear about their Gold Award. It’s so well deserved, the support they give veterans is exceptional and it’s a charity close to our hearts as we have some ex-services employees.”

Tony added: “We very much appreciated the efforts of Grundfos and other companies and organisations who give us time and resources. It’s not always about donations, but about manpower – the Groundforce team did a great job for us, for instance.”

Grundfos, a Danish company, is the world’s leading pump manufacturer and employs more than 18,000 people globally. It opened a Wearside plant in 1973 and now employs nearly 150 people at its Castletown site.