A project which supports veterans to thrive once they have moved on to independent living has received a big boost this week thanks to funding from Nationwide’s Community Grant scheme.
The Heroes at Home project, delivered by veterans’ charity Launchpad, will continue to support resident veterans once they have moved on from Avondale House in Newcastle.
Launchpad provides vital accommodation and support to veterans who have fallen on hard times and have found the transition from military to civilian life difficult. 90% of the veterans who arrive at Launchpad are homeless, most have been sleeping rough, 84% are long-term unemployed and 65% rely on foodbanks.
Avondale House comprises 33 self-contained one-bedroom flats and communal areas for former serving personnel and their partners. They are supported for up to two years (longer if necessary) but once they leave, many struggle with loneliness, recurrent mental health, addiction, financial and tenancy problems, which, if unaddressed can cause them to lapse back into homelessness.
In December 2021, Launchpad secured part-funding from Force for Change, which is administered by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, to recruit a part-time Independent Living Co-ordinator for four months, whose role is to support residents once they have moved on. This three-month trial has proved to be hugely successful with over 50 former residents re-connecting with the charity.
Lorena Budd signposts residents to help them successfully transition to living independently. This tailored support has helped them to access the benefits they are entitled to but also manage their finances, tenancy, support with their mental health and wellbeing and finding employment.
This is achieved by working through Launchpad’s staff or through other organisations such as SSAFA and the Royal British Legion, wherever they live.
The Nationwide has provided funding of £46,384, which will support up to 70 veterans over the next two years to ensure they can thrive and successfully transition to civilian life. The community grants programme aims to help society’s most vulnerable people by funding charities and housing projects that prevent people from losing their home, help people into a home or support people to thrive within the home environment.
As part of the programme, Launchpad will also receive support from their local Nationwide branch and Stephen Smith, Branch Manager at the building society’s Wallsend branch, visited Avondale House this week to meet staff and residents and present a cheque.
Lorena Budd, Independent Living Co-ordinator at Launchpad, said: “Moving on can be a really daunting experience for our residents, especially after receiving tailored support with accommodation and holistic support to address some of their personal needs. All of a sudden, they are living independently again and many struggle with loneliness and fall into desperate times.
“My role is to ensure they continue to receive the support they need and to help them integrate back into society, find employment and signpost them to the relevant agencies they need to engage with. Previously, when residents moved on, we didn’t have the structure in place to continue to support them but the Heroes at Home project and funding from Nationwide’s Community Grant scheme will enable us to support them long after they have moved on from Avondale House. I’d like to think we’re an extended family for them and always here for them if they need us.”
Stephen Smith, Branch Manager, Nationwide Building Society, said: “Helping local communities is at the heart of what it means to be a building society for Nationwide. Thanks to our Community Grants programme, we are so thrilled to be able to award a grant worth more than £46,000 to Launchpad for its Heroes at Home project. The grant will make a positive difference to so many individuals in our local community. Local charities have been hit by the pandemic and anything we can do to support and help them continue their valuable work with local communities is so important.”
Photo caption: Nationwide Building Society branch manager Stephen Smith presents a cheque to Phil Thompson, Manager of Launchpad’s Avondale House alongside Lorena Budd, Independent Living Co-ordinator at Launchpad.