“Thanks to Launchpad, my life seems to finally be back on track for a much brighter future. I am taking each day at a time but for now, everything is positive. I know that in the future when I eventually leave and move on, Launchpad will always be there for me if I need help.”
Dan joined the Army in 2006 with 3 Rifles and completed his training at Catterick. He originally wanted to be a driver in the Army but followed in his father’s footsteps who served in the Royal Logistic Corps.
He joined his battalion in Edinburgh in February 2007 and within three days, flew to Cyprus and served two months in the Royal Welsh. He worked in logistics for other soldiers coming back from Afghanistan.
When he returned from Cyprus, he carried out exercise at Salisbury Plain before training for Afghanistan. He went to Chatham in Kent on a searchers course with the Royal Engineers which he said provided him with great experience.
One of his proudest moments whilst serving was Guard Duty at Edinburgh Castle. He also carried out ceremonial duties at Durham Cathedral where he had the privilege of meeting royalty including Princess Anne.
Dan was medically discharged and unfortunately, didn’t make it onto his operational tour of Afghanistan. When he came out of service in 2007, life felt good and it seemed to be on track with work and relationships but things started to spiral out of control when he turned to alcohol and lost everything including his relationship with his family and eventually, he became homeless.
In 2010, he hit rock bottom and served a prison sentence. He was released after serving three months (of a six months sentence), but was attacked in a hostel in Cheshire and admitted to hospital where he suffered from disfigurement. He moved to the North East with his sister where he tried to rebuild his relationship with his family and he applied for housing at Launchpads’ Avondale House in Newcastle.
He moved into his own flat in September 2021 and has started rebuilding his life. He said: “Launchpad has helped me on my journey and provided the support I needed with my alcohol issues. My caseworker and I have developed a plan and sometimes I do have relapses but, the staff have been very supportive and understanding. I get daily welfare checks and I can speak to staff which makes me feel safe knowing someone is always there and cares.”
Reflecting on his career in the Army, Dan said: “I loved the fitness training in the Army, and this is probably one of the things I miss the most along with the camaraderie between fellow soldiers but living at Avondale House still allows me to have that camaraderie with other veterans.”
Dan has secured part-time employment and you’ll often find him volunteering to help out around the house. He enjoys painting, cleaning empty flats and gardening – always keeping himself busy.
He said: “I like participating in the various activities that are provided – it keeps me busy and my mind focused on what I need to do. There are always things to do around the house if you’re motivated to do them. I attend the weekly gym sessions whenever I can and take part in cooking.
“I’ve also been on health and wellbeing trips to the beach for walks, get myself out on a bike ride or participate in activities such as the Remembrance Day service that staff organised for all the residents living at Avondale House.”
He continued: “The staff support us with our training and there are always new courses and job prospects posted on the training board in the communal lounge. Help is there to gain your independence and I would certainly recommend Launchpad to any veteran in need.”
Dan is currently attending a 5-week Civil Engineering Course with Building Heroes which provides attendees with qualifications and a possible job at the end of the course. He said: “I’m hoping the course will help me gain full-time permanent employment. It could really help to change my life around for the better and move on into independent living again.”