Stewart’s Story

“If it weren’t for Speke House, I would either be back in jail on a life sentence or on a destructive path with drugs. I couldn’t be further away from my old life now – this is my new life.”

Stewart joined the Royal Engineers in 1997 and moved to Gibraltar Barracks at Minley, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. After two months, he wasn’t earning enough money to support them during his training, and with the threat of eviction from their family home, he made the difficult decision to leave the Army to return home and support his family.

He went on to secure a 26-year career maintaining the motorways and progressed his way up to scheme manager working for various companies. Unfortunately, his marriage broke up and while taking on the additional responsibility of caring for his parents he fell into a life troubled with drink and drugs. He ended up in prison.

Upon release from serving a 17-month prison sentence, Stewart moved into Speke House in July 2023 and has settled in really well. He said: “The staff have all been brilliant with me and supported me in every way that they can. They have also made me realise that I can be myself and it’s clear that they try and understand me.”

He has engaged in his weekly therapy sessions and commented: “I’m working hard to be the best of me and I can laugh again. I’m working each day getting better and better, this place is ace. I feel more relaxed and Speke House is the first place I’ve ever felt settled and comfortable being myself.”

He engages in the activities that are organised within the house including paintballing, ten pin bowling, golf and he attended and completed the ‘Your Future Self’ course delivered by the John Haynes Foundation. He also found comfort in helping another resident doing a project in the garden to build some decking.

In October 2023, Stewart was one of three residents from Speke House to sign up for CatZero – a programme designed to support veterans by increasing their self-belief, confidence and motivation.

This involved a three-day residential where he took part in caving and walking and he enjoyed meeting other attendees which boosted his confidence and assisted him with his mental health.  He attended the main voyage – an 8-day sailing trip around the Orkneys. Stewart thrived on this and said: “I was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Stewart feels ready to look into work and is working with Launchpad’s Employment and Training Specialist to find suitable opportunities. He is excited with the prospect of going back to work and said: “I want to ease myself in and maybe just work a few hours per week.”

His support worker at Launchpad’s Speke House, Kate Riley, said: “It has been challenging and difficult at times for Stewart to settle in and find the best way to support him. It took time and patience from both parties, but he is working very hard to improve his life in all areas. He has continued to gain the tools he needs to move forward.

“He hopes to make progress with his ADHD diagnosis with a long-awaited medication review to help him become more stable. This in turn will support him in achieving a better standard of mental health and he hopes to be able to re-engage with his children.”