Blog Nicola Higham, Deputy Manager (Operations) Nicola is one of the first members of staff residents have contact with at Speke House. Here she tells us more about her role and the support she provides to our residents. Veterans approach Launchpad for all different reasons. Some just need safe, secure accommodation while others may need more complex support especially those who are feeling lonely and isolated – sometimes even suicidal - and have deep-seated issues that have led or contributed to their situation. It’s not uncommon that some of our veterans’ experience divorce or separation, unemployment, homelessness while some may have spent time in prison so it is important our staff are confident to provide the necessary support to help them feel safe and secure. Nicola has been working at Launchpad’s Speke House for four years and is sometimes the first member of staff to have any interaction with residents. Her role is to help residents settle into their new surroundings and sometimes, just be there to provide a listening ear. She joined Launchpad from Wirral Council where she worked as a tenancy support officer for seven years, working with homeless people to get settled, claim the benefits they are entitled to and help them to sustain their tenancy and find employment. Her role is very similar here at Launchpad – she helps residents with rent payments and service charges, ensures they are claiming benefits, applying for Universal Credit and housing benefits but also helping to complete applications for things such as furniture packages and to register with a GP. While residents are settling into their new environment, she looks at other areas of support depending on their individual circumstances. This includes referring them to a range of support agencies that work in partnership with us to provide advice and help on areas such as debt, drugs, alcohol and relationships. “It is important residents receive targeted support to help them with their circumstances.” said Nicola. “I spend time with them, getting to know them, understand their feelings and generally build a relationship with them so I can identify their highs and lows and make them feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. “Some of our veterans come to us with literally nothing. They’ll be lucky if they come with a bag of clothes, it is an awful situation to see. “There is no greater feeling seeing them move on with their lives. I’ve worked with some residents where I have seen a full transition, they’ve come off the drugs or alcohol, they are working, they are in stable relationships and are generally moving on with their lives but we’ll always be here for them.” Nicola has joined the army reserves, which she attends every Tuesday evening and weekends. She is also studying towards her Level 4 Counselling to enhance the service she provides to residents.