“During my time at Avondale, I have received the support and guidance to enable me to move forward in a positive way. I now feel more equipped for independent living”.
Ian was born in the North East in Prudhoe and at the age of 10, he was fostered by his uncle due to a relationship breakdown with parents. Ian attended school however, he did not do as well as he wanted and did not leave with the results he would have liked.
Ian always dreamt of joining the army as he was growing up. Both his stepfathers were in the army and Ian used to love listening to their stories about military life. At the age of 20, Ian realised his dreams of joining the military where he joined 2nd battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment as an Infantry Soldier.
Ian started his military training in January 2009. On completing training, he went straight onto Operations to prepare to go and serve his country on a tour of Afghanistan where was deployed in November 2009. After arriving in And-e-Ali, Ian stayed for five months and conducted patrols with his section, often experiencing heavy gunfire from the Taliban. He patrolled from a forward operating base daily, sometimes three or four times a day as this area of Nad-E-Ali was filled with Taliban fighters. Some days, Ian was unable to leave the patrol base as the fight often came to him. There were three casualties throughout his first deployment.
Ian arrived back in the UK and after a short period, he was redeployed to Afghanistan again to an area called Babaji, where he provided protection for construction workers building a new road. In November 2010, Ian returned to Cyprus where he was based, and after a short period he moved back to Weeton Barracks in Preston. Here, Ian settled back into military life and got engaged before his daughter Lacey arrived in 2013.
He was experiencing mental health issues during this period when he was at the same time undertaking CMT training, due to incidents he had witnessed whilst in Afghanistan. Ian started to self-medicate with alcohol and cocaine in an attempt to block his thoughts and soon his relationship deteriorated, leading him to separate from his fiancée. Ian’s mental and physical health got progressively worse, leading him to crash his car and lose his licence, which resulted in him being unable to transfer to the medical corp and returning instead to his old platoon.
Ian managed to keep his alcohol and drug use from the army and continued to suffer in silence with his mental health. In 2015, he went on exercise to Kenya, where he unfortunately suffered a severe ankle injury that led to him being medically discharged in 2017.
Once Ian had been discharged from the army, he continued to drink excessively and struggled to hold a job down. He started a new relationship, which he admits himself was very toxic. Ian kept getting into trouble with the police, lost his licence again and was given probation. When his relationship ended, Ian moved back to North East, where he held a job for a short time before starting to become more dependent on alcohol and eventually becoming homeless.
The big change came for Ian when he started working with the homeless charity Shelter, who put him in touch with Royal British Legion (RBL) to help him to find accommodation. The RBL contacted Launchpad to make a referral to Avondale House for accommodation. Ian was accepted and moved into Avondale House in January 2019.
“I didn’t know Avondale House existed, and was relieved to find somewhere that understood veterans and could support us.” Ian comments.
Once Ian arrived at Avondale, he was able to access the correct services that could support his mental health, and he was able to also be properly assessed and given diagnosis for PTSD and bipolar disorder. Ian began to see regular therapists and was supported by staff at Avondale and can now manage his mental health with medication.
Ian has had a whole new lease of life through Launchpad. He said:
“I no longer drink or smoke, I regularly volunteer at the local church and I have taken several courses, including end of life care.”
He is now looking towards a positive future and wants to become a nurse, which he is taking steps towards doing.