“I know Launchpad will always be there for me if I need them and I am incredibly grateful for all they have done. To this day, I dread to think where I would be if Launchpad hadn’t saved me.”
Jonathan joined the Army in 2009 and after completing his training in Pirbright and Larkhill, he was eventually based at Thorney Island with 47 Regiment Royal Artillery.
During his military career, he visited many countries including Canada, Germany, France, Kenya, Dubai and Cyprus and life was good. He went on active service in Afghanistan on the Op Herrick 15 tour attached to D company of the Royal York’s which included the Gurkha rifles. He served alongside American and Danish soldiers.
It was during his time in Afghanistan that things started to turn. He said: “During my time in Afghanistan, I was subjected to seeing things and being part of things that I thought at the time I was able to cope with, but the realisation of this was that my mind was not as strong as I thought it was.”
On his return from Afghanistan, his mental health took a turn for the worse and he found himself drinking to cope with his demons. It was at this point, he decided he could no longer be a soldier and face what he had been through so he signed off from the Army.
Drinking led to drugs and his relationship with his family was broken. His mum encouraged him to seek medical help and he was diagnosed with military PTSD, anxiety and depression. He ended up homeless and moved into a hostel until Launchpad’s Avondale House could accommodate him.
He secured a flat within three weeks and is praising the help he has received from staff. Jonathan said: “I sought help from my keyworker Sam and together we set out a plan to move forward. I met her regularly and she took me out walking to benefit my mental health. During Covid, she got me involved in cooking and together we created cooking to classical, two things I enjoyed, the music was relaxing, and we would cook meals for the residents that were alone and isolating and then take the food to the doors, so we knew everyone had a chance to eat a well cooked meal.
“At the end of lockdown, Sam encouraged me to attend the gym with some of the other residents for weekly sessions. Residents would come and go but I stayed and attended the sessions, sometimes alone, sometimes with a group of others, but it was a great release.”
Jonathan was referred to VTILS to support him with his mental health and he was referred to the ADHD team. Sam attended meetings with him to give him support and organised activities to keep him busy. After several assessments and meetings, he was diagnosed with autism.
He said: “When I came to terms with the new diagnosis, I had a better understanding of why I do what I do and who I am, it also helped to give me a clear understanding of where I wanted to be.”
Launchpad staff supported him with his PIP application and he feels he is gaining control of his life again. “I feel like I am ready to move on but I applied for an extension of my time which was granted by the Trustees. I also applied to have a kitten and after a long search, I rescued one that I wanted – Willow is great for my mental health.
“I now feel that I am ready to take that final step and to move forwards with the next phase of my life. I am currently searching for a place of my own.”
One of Launchpad’s partners offered Jonathan and some other residents temporary work which they have accepted and have been working there for two months and are finding the work rewarding and things are going well.