While the country is in lockdown and the Government has encouraged people to self-isolate, these are difficult times for the 80 veteran residents, many of whom are already vulnerable and struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
Launchpad provides accommodation and support to help homeless veterans stabilise their lives and make a successful transition from military to civilian life. The charity has two houses: Speke House in Liverpool accommodating 48 residents in self-contained flats and Avondale House in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which comprises 32 self-contained one-bedroom flats.
The funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will contribute towards staffing costs, IT equipment and other necessary activity.
While most residents are self-isolating, the life they have become accustomed to has almost been cut off. The communal areas within the houses are closed so they have to stay in their flats to self-isolate, except for daily exercise and essential shopping. Visible staffing has also been reduced with only one member of staff on site and there is no face-to-face contact with partners and each other except in an emergency; however, all staff are involved in planning post-pandemic activity and in supporting the veterans remotely
Each house would normally have four support staff on-site and the large, open-plan communal areas are where the veterans receive peer support but due to Covid-19, restrictions have been put in place.
The funding will contribute towards support with the costs of the two members of staff who are maintaining daily contact with the most vulnerable residents. Laptop computers will be provided to staff working remotely and tablets will be purchased for residents who are most seriously affected to encourage contact and ensure they are maintaining personal hygiene, cooking and cleaning.
Some residents don’t have televisions in their flats so those will be purchased and provided to residents with no entertainment during the lockdown period.
David Shaw, CEO and Founder of Launchpad, commented: “These are very challenging times for everyone including our residents, many of whom are very vulnerable. Adapting to a different way of life and routine has had an initial detrimental effect on their mental health. Our staff are contacting residents daily to check on their wellbeing and to ensure we all get through this strange period in good heart.
“We are very grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund Awards for All for providing us with this grant, which will enable us to invest in equipment and encourage regular contact and support to residents. Although they [residents] have told us video contact and phone contact is not as good as being together, they still agree that it is much better than total isolation.
“I am also very proud of two of our longer-term residents who are volunteering for the NHS and for a local charity.”