National veterans’ charity Launchpad has purchased a veterans’ house in County Durham to expand its property portfolio to three houses, providing vital accommodation and support for up to 100 veterans in the North of England.
The charity has purchased Hollyacre Centre on Front Street, Sacriston from administrators, after Single Homeless: Action Initiative in Durham (SHAID) was placed into administration earlier this year, securing the future of eight veterans and saving four jobs.
Hollyacre House comprises 13 self-contained one-bedroom flats and one flat for 5 people and residents will be supported for up to two years (longer if necessary). This is the second veterans’ accommodation the charity has opened in the North East. In 2013, Launchpad opened Avondale House on the Byker estate in Newcastle upon Tyne providing accommodation including 33 self-contained one-bedroom flats and communal areas for former serving personnel and their partners. This was followed by the opening of Speke House in Liverpool in 2015, which provides the same accommodation for 48 residents.
90% of the veterans who arrive at Launchpad are homeless and since 2013, over 550 veterans have been supported with 36% of residents leaving in paid employment and 62% successfully moving on to settled accommodation, either living independently, reunited with family or with the support they needed.
David Shaw, CEO and Founder of Launchpad, commented: “We are delighted to take over the operations by opening Hollyacre House and continuing to deliver vital accommodation and support to our veterans.
“When the building was closed, eight resident veterans living at the scheme were left wondering where their future lay, but we will continue to support those residents and provide the support they need to help them to successfully move on with their lives.
“We will continue to work with multiple specialist partners to help us deliver the services and support that our veterans need. We look forward to expanding our North East operations, working closely with Durham County Council and charities in the area, many of whom we are familiar with already and who have been very supportive.
“We are keen to work with the local community and businesses and have longer-term plans to restructure some of the layout of the house and improve its facilities.
“The house will be managed by four members of staff who worked at the house in the past and are now members of Launchpad, and we’ll be implementing policies and best practice from our two houses in Newcastle and Liverpool to ensure this facility is run effectively and efficiently. I have no doubt we will bring improvement for staff and residents very quickly.”
Nick Tubbs, Chair of Launchpad, said: “Our Trustees fully support this expansion and acquisition of a third house and clearly, there is demand for a veterans facility like this in County Durham.
“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.
“Launchpad was created specifically to help veterans overcome these challenges and to live positive and rewarding lives thereafter and Hollyacre House will continue to support veterans in need.”
SHAID ceased operations in February 2022 closing two veterans houses, Hollyacre Centre and St. Peter’s Court, also in Sacriston, which comprises 16 self-contained flats. Launchpad has purchased the Hollyacre Centre only and there will be no break in operations.