“I was lost in myself. I’ve never had my own flat before. The only person I spoke to was my partner. I came to Launchpad with just my clothes and Xbox and was given a welcome pack. This was a great kickstart to help me out.”
Reece, 19, from Essex, joined the Army after spending time in the Cadets. He didn’t want a 9am-5pm job sitting behind a desk all day – he wanted to be active and do something worthwhile so he sought a career in the Army.
Reece had an unsettled childhood before joining The Rifles at 17. He started his training in Catterick but damaged his back during initial training. He cracked a bone which became dislodged and spent 9 months in rehabilitation. He tried to revive his Army career but was in too much pain and was eventually medically discharged after 2 years – leaving in 2023.
He was effectively rendered homeless and had nowhere to live. After being referred to Launchpad’s Hollyacre House in Durham, he hasn’t looked back. The charity has provided him with safe and secure accommodation and he has received assistance from the Army Benevolent Fund.
He said: “I was lost in myself. I’ve never had my own flat before. The only person I spoke to was my partner. I came to Launchpad with just my clothes and Xbox and was given a welcome pack provided by the Army Benevolent Fund, which included bedding, toiletries, cutlery, plates and a food pack. This was a great kick-start to help me out.”
Reece is working hard to secure stable employment and would like a career in close protection work. He has engaged well with his support worker, Sharon, and is actively engaging in activities around the house.
Sharon approached Multiply at Durham County Council who offered sessions to upskill him, to boost his confidence and to refresh his skills. He attended these sessions, which were delivered at the house before starting a course at New College, Durham. He enrolled on a training course in security, which he completed in November 2023 and gained health and safety and safeguarding qualifications.
Reece said: “Since June, I have come out of my shell and have settled down and feel more mature and self-sufficient. I believe in myself and am taking the opportunities offered by Launchpad. I have also moved into a larger flat, which I keep tidy, and batch cook to save money.
“Attending college helped me to get out of the house, which is good. I am very thankful to both Launchpad and the ABF for giving me the support to start my life again in a safe and trusting environment.”
Now he is engaging with Launchpad’s Employment and Skills Specialist as he would like to do a close protection course in Sunderland and he has also visited the Veterans Skills Academy in Newton Aycliffe to look at opportunities in welding, fabrication, plumbing and heating. He also attended a budgeting and financial management course which will help him to manage his finances when he eventually moves on to live independently.
Reece attended a 2-night residential stay at the Battle Back Centre in Newport, run by the Royal British Legion, which was offered to Launchpad’s residents to focus on skills, confidence and team building. Reece said this was a brilliant experience which helped to raise his confidence and positivity moving forward and would definitely like to attend another visit if one came up in future.
Sharon said: “Reece has grown in confidence over the last few months and you can see that in him. He is keen to engage in the activities that we organise for residents and he gets a lot back from those. He’s motivated and is keen to learn – as demonstrated by his attendance at college. His girlfriend has moved into the house with him and he feels comfort and benefit from having her there for emotional support – he doesn’t have any family or a group of friends.”