Olivia’s Story

“Launchpad has given me my independence. It’s allowed me to be me again and to have the responsibility of having my own flat and a safe place to live.”

After leaving school and college, Olivia still hadn’t made her mind up what career path she would embark on. Her passion was caring for people so she decided to join the Royal Navy as a medic.

Her father served for seven years in the Royal Navy as a Killick (a sailor with the rank of leading seaman), and after visiting her local careers office, she decided to sign up for service. She has an ear for music and enjoys playing musical instruments so she also thought she could become a ‘bandy’, but ultimately it was the medical route she decided to take.

After an 18-month wait, she joined in 2015 and served four years in the Royal Navy – three years at sea and in her final year, she was based at HMS Collingwood training centre. She knew then that she wanted to strive for a career as a paramedic but the Royal Navy doesn’t offer funding to become a paramedic, so she decided to leave and to further increase her chances of job progression, she signed up to study a three-year degree in Paramedic Science at the University of Sunderland.

During her second year of studies, Olivia left the course for medical and personal reasons and separated from her partner. Her life started to spiral out of control, finding herself homeless and sofa surfing at a friend’s house. After a year, it became too much for and she felt she needed to get out so she moved into The Beacon at Catterick Garrison. However, after only a short period, she Googled ‘emergency veterans’ accommodation in Durham and found an article in the local newspaper about Launchpad taking over a house in Sacriston.

After applying online, she visited the house to have a look around, speak to staff and other residents and felt this would be the right move for her. She moved into Launchpad’s Hollyacre House in July 2022 and hasn’t looked back since.

She arrived with only the clothes she was wearing, a TV and her car. She said: “I’m very grateful to Launchpad for providing me with a furnished flat but the welcome pack I received also included towels, bedding, toiletries and a food package, which is a huge help especially when you have nothing.”

Prior to arriving at Launchpad, Olivia had already referred herself to the Veterans Community Hub in Newton Aycliffe and has been attending a wellbeing course which helps to develop skills and provides mindfulness, art sessions, woodwork, metalwork, music and drama, which she enjoys.

Commenting on her time at Hollyacre House, she said: “Launchpad has given back my independence. I’m really grateful to my friend for giving me somewhere to live but it just got too much and I felt like I was in the way. She has a young family and worked from home so it wasn’t ideal. Hollyacre House has given me the responsibility of having my own flat and keeping it clean. It has given me a safe place to live and to look after myself and feed myself – it’s allowed me to be me again.

“If it wasn’t for Googling emergency veterans’ accommodation in Durham, who knows where I might be. I was vulnerable and going through a really bad time.

“I was hoping to carry on with my degree and eventually become a paramedic but I really need to find employment – for myself and my mental health. The progression is to move in with my boyfriend and I have been looking at doing a podiatry and chiropodist course at college so we’ll see what the future holds but, it’s certainly looking more promising than this time last year all thanks to Launchpad.”