Founded in 2013, by former members of the military community, Launchpad assists veterans struggling with transition from military to civilian life by providing accommodation and support. In some cases, they require time to stabilise their lives prior to tackling training and job hunting and in Avondale House, Byker, an iconic Grade II* Listed building, they have 33 comfortable, self contained, one bed flats with communal facilities, including a social and training area, kitchen, IT suite, laundry and outdoor garden area, in which they have helped 218 veterans to date. Over the last 12 months, 71% of veterans successfully moved on to settled accommodation and 42% left in paid employment, making it the city’s largest veterans’ accommodation provider.
For most veterans, the transition from the armed forces to civilian life is smooth but more often than not, those few who can’t resettle easily face challenges such as homelessness, poverty, mental and physical health issues, addictions, broken families and unemployment. Their primary aim is to help veterans secure employment and permanent housing within two years of attending Avondale House in order that they may live independently and contribute to society.
The end of May saw the Widows Sons Northumberland Chapter, who have a long established link with the veterans at Avondale House, hold a social event when W.Bro Major Alasdair Watson, was able to present a cheque for £1000 from the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund, to Sam Hughes, the Assistant Manager Projects at Avondale House.
The Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund donates around £160,000 annually to local charities and good causes, including food banks, to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.
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