“We love it here at Launchpad because of the great atmosphere and staff. I hit it off with my key worker (Andy) straight away. I managed to trust him which was a massive step for me and helped in making me feel comfortable in my own home.”
Joe grew up in the Lambeth, Elephant and Castle and Brixton areas of South London. At the age of 11, he was placed in foster homes in London due to bad behaviour.
With his parents feeling unable to cope, he was taken into the care system.
Joe commented: “In one foster home, my foster brothers were part of the Army Cadet Force. This changed my direction massively; I followed my foster brothers into the cadets and I never looked back.”
Joe joined the British Army at the age of 16 as a junior soldier in 1989 upon leaving school. He went on to join 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment after six months training at Depot Queens Division. Upon moving to Tidworth with the battalion, he was later deployed to Northern Ireland for his first operational tour aged just 17. Due to his young age, Joe was confined to sentry duty, protecting the camp not allowed to go on patrol until after his 18th birthday.
In January 1991, Joe’s battalion moved to Minden in West Germany, where upon arriving they were deployed to BATUS in Canada for a six-month exercise. The Queen’s regiment was disbanded in 1992, when he then joined The Prince of Wales Royal Regiment (PWRR) 1st Battalion. With the PWRR, he was later deployed on exercise to Kenya and on operational tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia in 1999. Joe left the British Army in 1999, joining the RLC Territorial Army for two years.
He said: “After my military career, a relationship breakdown resulted in myself becoming homeless. Drink, drugs and prison soon followed this, and this life quickly became the norm for me. I completed six rehabilitations over the years but, I always got drawn back into that life due to my friendship circle still being involved in that way of life. My partner and I spent three years street homeless, when we finally had enough, I managed to get a post onto the regimental social media site asking for help. This is where things started to change, and a few veterans mentioned Launchpad.
Within two weeks of speaking to the staff at Avondale House, Joe and his partner started a new life together in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
“In November 2017, we arrived ready to leave our old life behind. Launchpad really appealed to my partner and I because they are the only charity (that I know of) that take couples. This was important to me because I was not willing to leave my partner after everything we had been though together.”
“We love it here at Launchpad because of the great atmosphere and staff. I hit it off with my key worker (Andy) straight away. I managed to trust him which was a massive step for me and helped in making me feel comfortable in my own home. Andy is always there, even out of hours when I need him, this has been a factor in help keeping me away from my old lifestyle. The manager of Launchpad is also from the same division as me and that helps put me at ease.”