Veterans’ charity Launchpad has appointed a new independent living co-ordinator to support residents once they have moved on.

Mary Douglas has been appointed by the charity and will signpost residents who have resided in both North East houses, in Newcastle and Durham, to help them successfully transition to living independently.

Launchpad provides an extensive range of accommodation and support, with the help of specialist providers, to support homeless veterans who have fallen on hard times and have found the transition from military to civilian life difficult.

Residents living at Launchpad’s Avondale House in Byker, Newcastle, and Hollyacre House in Sacriston, Durham, are supported for up to two years (longer if necessary) but once they leave, many struggle with loneliness, recurrent mental health, addiction, financial and tenancy problems, which, if unaddressed can cause them to lapse back into homelessness.

Mary will continue to support those residents to ensure they go on to thrive and don’t fall back onto hard times by linking them with support they need from a variety of providers. This tailored support will help them to access the benefits they are entitled to as well as helping them to manage their finances, secure their tenancy, gain support for their mental health issues and wellbeing, as well as encouraging them to find employment.

Her role is being funded by Nationwide Building Society’s Community Grant Scheme, with the aim of supporting up to 70 veterans over two years. The community grants programme was established to help society’s most vulnerable people by funding charities and housing projects that prevent people from losing their home, help people into a home or support people to thrive within the home environment.

Mary has a wealth of experience and knowledge working with veteran communities and spent 14 years at British Legion, working as a welfare officer before moving to her previous role at Finchale Training Group in Durham. Here, she helped to process applications for the Army Benevolent Fund but when they went into administration last year, Mary saw the vacancy at Launchpad advertised and had no hesitation in applying.

She said:

“I’ve known Launchpad from day one, when Avondale House opened in Newcastle in 2013 and have always admired their approach to supporting homeless veterans. The charity has expanded considerably over the years with the addition of Speke House in Liverpool and more recently, Hollyacre House in Durham and I’m looking forward to working with all residents to support them with their move on. I have many years of working with the veteran community, so I am familiar with some of the difficulties they experience. It’s a rewarding job to be able to support veterans as they move on and help them to integrate back into society.”

Phil Thompson, Manager of Launchpad’s Avondale House and Hollyacre House, said:

“Launchpad supports homeless veterans from the moment they arrive, during their stay and in the future, we can help them ourselves or through local intermediaries once they have moved on if they wish. Residents need structure and we’ve found in the past that once they have moved on, some have fallen back on hard times and it becomes a vicious circle. I applaud Launchpad for their forward-thinking innovative approach. Residents become extended family so we don’t just close the door after they have moved on, they know we will support them long after they have left Launchpad – it’s a bit like a safety net for them.


“I welcome Mary to the team and know, with her knowledge and experience, she will be a great asset to supporting our residents. Initially, she will be supporting residents in our two North East houses, but we hope to be able to expand this service to our house in Liverpool in future. I’d also like to thank Nationwide and their Community Grant Scheme for providing the funding towards Mary’s post and supporting our veterans.”

90% of the veterans who arrive at Launchpad are homeless and since 2013, over 600 veterans have been supported. On average over the last five years, 61% of residents successfully moved on while 41% gained employment whilst at Launchpad.