A new projects manager has been appointed to organise and facilitate a range of diversionary projects and activities for North East veterans.

Sam Hughes has been appointed as assistant manager (projects) at Avondale House to develop, manage and encourage participation in local community and diversionary projects for the schemes’ residents.

Launchpad provides accommodation and support to help veterans stabilise their lives and make a successful transition from military to civilian life. The house provides self-contained, one-bedroom flats for up to 32 residents and includes a communal lounge/kitchen area, IT suite and central courtyard for residents to relax.

Residents are encouraged to participate in a programme of activities to improve their mental health and wellbeing by organising activities such as mindfulness, arts projects, music lessons and outdoor sports.

Sam joins Launchpad from The Percy Hedley Foundation – a charity which supports and meets the needs of children, young people and adults with disabilities and multiple learning difficulties.

She has a background in health and social care and whilst working at the Foundation, she worked with employers to improve employment opportunities for disabled people. Sam is also a former personal fitness coach and is trained in medical care and medications.

She resonates with the veteran residents living at Launchpad as her husband is ex-forces after serving 22 years in the British Army and has been diagnosed with PTSD.

Commenting on her appointment, she said:

“I am really looking forward to working with the veterans but also Launchpad’s partners and the local community to develop and deliver a comprehensive programme of events and activities that will engage and give them the confidence and skills they need as part of their transition.

“I am really passionate about helping people and feel I have a lot to offer this role. I am a military wife of 17 years, I have seen my husband go on tours and I know what he thinks and how hard the transition from the military to civilian life can be. I would like to engage with all our residents and be there to support them but also pick up on the empathy and compassion some of them may be experiencing.

“I am looking forward to speaking to veteran-friendly organisations to help us deliver these activities. I have already spoken to a lot of the residents and they have some great ideas, my job will be to help deliver these and help them on their journey to recovery.”

Phil Thompson, Manager of Avondale House, said:

“Sam has a lot of experience working with people from all ages and backgrounds and I think this will help her as she delivers this role. The key will be to deliver a programme of diversionary projects that our residents want to engage and learn from. These activities and programmes will be designed to support their mental health and wellbeing, motivation and confidence, training and development and when they feel ready, employment and permanent accommodation. Sam is a great asset to the team and I am looking forward to working with her.”

If you are an individual, group or organisation that provides activities which you think may help our veterans or would like to find out more information, please contact Sam at Avondale House on 0191 265 7039.