Launchpad’s Speke House in Liverpool provides safe, secure accommodation for up to 48 veterans to help them stabilise their lives and make a successful transition from military to civilian life.

In addition, Launchpad staff refer residents to a multitude of partner organisations and specialist providers to ensure residents receive the help they need.

One organisation doing just that is Sanctuary Family Support from Liverpool, who provide free, confidential advice and one-to-one support with a substance misuse worker providing assistance with drug and alcohol issues and a counsellor offering CBT and Trauma counselling.

Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, staff from Sanctuary visit Speke House every Monday between 10am and 3pm to meet residents and help them on their road to recovery. A dedicated room within Speke House means that residents can have confidential meetings within the comfort of their own surroundings. A holistic practitioner is also available to provide relaxing head, back and foot massages for residents.

Since October 2018, the service has been delivered from within Speke House and has been widely accepted by residents. Up to 30 residents are now regularly attending appointments or calling in if they need to have a chat or some advice or even a massage.

Grant Blackburn, 49, who has just recently moved out of Speke House and into his own home, has been visiting Sanctuary since May 2017. He attends to discuss his problems with alcohol addiction and coming to terms with his sexuality. He said: “For the past 17 years, I have been battling a drink problem and the behavioural patterns of this problem have varied over the years. I have tried AA meetings, private counselling and all sorts of tools and coping strategies to overcome my obvious addiction.

“Staff at Launchpad referred me to Sanctuary and it has made a huge difference. I find them incredibly homely and because I felt comfortable, I was able to be 100% honest about my past, present and what I’d like for the future.

“The staff at Sanctuary are brilliant and without the amazing manner in which these meetings are conducted, I would not have been able to open up. The meetings make me feel relaxed, honest and open. They also make me smile, laugh and cry! The common denominator with all these variables of emotion is the fact that whenever I leave Sanctuary, I always feel a stone lighter. They are working like nothing ever has done before.”

Each meeting is tailored to address their [residents] individual needs. Throughout Grant’s counselling sessions, he has discussed in depth about his drinking habits, understanding his circumstances, cognitive relaxation methods, creating a relapse prevention plan and building discrepancy.

Sam Jackson, Manager at Launchpad’s Speke House, said: “We work in partnership with lots of different organisations to ensure we can signpost residents to the appropriate help they need. We are very fortunate here in Liverpool that there is a lot of professional support out there not only for our veterans but also general public who may also be experiencing these issues.

“We have been working with Maddy and the team at Sanctuary for a few years now with successful outcomes for our residents. Every resident is on a different path, some need more help than others but everyone is treated individually. Grant has really benefitted from the support by Sanctuary and we’ve seen him come a long way. There is still a way to go but we’re on the right path and he will continue to access the service even though he has now moved on.

“We have seen an uptake in participation since the service came in-house and this is coupled by a number of factors such as access to the service, the expense of catching buses to go to appointments, anxiety, confusion and the worry at the thought of leaving Speke House. We are always looking to create new partnerships with organisations like Sanctuary that will benefit our residents.”

Maddy Vaz, Chair and volunteer at Sanctuary, said: “The Road to Recovery project has been a success. It’s a pleasure to work with the veterans and staff at Speke House.

We now need to ensure funding for this project is long-term as the Launchpad project is on-going.”

Speke House consists of 48 bedsits including communal space and a garden for residents to socialise. Last year, Launchpad supported 157 homeless and unemployed veterans at Speke House and at Avondale House in Newcastle and has helped 437 veterans since 2013.