“I was lost in life and had nothing. I was feeling suicidal but thankfully, I found Launchpad and finally feel like I have got my life back. I want the best for me and my family and now I have focus. I can plan for the future and I am ready to move on and always know that I have the support of Launchpad even after I leave.”
Alan spent all of his childhood years growing up in a small pit village in County Durham. He left school at the age of 16, completing a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) working on building sites to gain valuable experience which he enjoyed.
Admittedly, throughout his childhood years, he experienced bullying and gang fighting which to him, became normal. He enjoyed socialising and dabbled in drugs but knew from an early age that if he continued down this path, he would end up dead or in prison.
Alan wanted to see the world and make his family proud – he wanted to serve his Queen, so he joined the British Army at the age of 18. He joined the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and even during his four-month training, he experienced bullying and a hostile environment, which he was already accustomed to.
He was based at Kirkee Barracks in Colchester and was posted to Paderborn in Germany at Barker Barracks where he operated the 105 lightgun and 105mm tracked vehicles. He also completed two 6-month operational tours of Northern Ireland and tours in Belize and Kenya.
Always professional and an excellent soldier, he admits that he enjoyed 90% of his time in the Army but after six years’ service, he felt he became a little bit lost in himself. He could see a generational change and a few good friends left or were posted elsewhere. He always expected the best of himself but didn’t want responsibility. He was professional but admittedly, he was just ‘one of the lads’ and decided he wanted to leave service.
After leaving the Army, he didn’t feel like he had the support network around him and started abusing himself with drugs. He went back to his old ways and mixed in with the wrong crowd but then in 2000, he settled down, met his girlfriend and treat her son as his. They went onto have a daughter together which he adores. Unfortunately, after ten years, his relationship broke down and they separated.
He struggled to cope being single and started to abuse the drugs again. He got into trouble with the Police and this came to a head when was caught for growing marijuana and served time in jail. When he was released, he moved into what he described as a ‘dive’ which drove him to drink and taking cocaine. But one night in 2018, he felt at his lowest and called for help on social media.
Worried about this welfare, Alan’s friends called the Police and asked them to get the help he needed, which they did. He already knew about Launchpad and tried to refer himself previously but there was no space available at the time. But in April 2018, he took a gamble with his life and was successful in securing a flat at Avondale House in Newcastle.
“I literally turned up with nothing but the clothes on my back. At the time, I was lost in life and even had suicidal thoughts. It’s been a long, slow journey but I’m getting through it and am in a much better place.
“When I first came here, I didn’t like myself and I couldn’t show respect for others when I couldn’t respect myself. I have good days and bad days but we all [other residents] go through the same feelings. Eventually (and thankfully), I had that lightbulb moment and started to engage more. I started to work with the staff rather than against them and try to give something back. I’m at the stage now where I like myself again and present myself better. I’ve got a future to look forward to.”
Like most residents when they arrive, Alan successfully applied for a furniture package through ABF Soldiers’ Charity and has tastefully decorated his flat with a new couch and bed. He also used some of the grant to buy ornaments and pictures for the walls to make it nice and homely.
Now 48, Alan feels like he has the support network around him and in addition to Launchpad and ABF Soldiers’ Charity, he also credits support workers from Project Nova, Anxious Minds and Crisis for the help he has received.
At the time of writing this case study, he has just put the deposit on his own flat in nearby Howden but with the reassurance that he knows he can call on Launchpad whenever he needs to – even if it is just to pop in for cuppa and a chat. Alan’s future is much brighter.