Steven was a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery (1 RHA) for over five years before a back injury ended his Army career. Following his medical discharge, he struggled with depression, drifted between jobs and ended up homeless. Our partners at Launchpad, the homeless charity, which we proudly fund, helped him to rebuild his life.
Born in North Shields, Steven was brought up by his mum and three sisters and he experienced violent behaviour from his dad, a former soldier who had struggled with PTSD. He left school without qualifications and became an apprentice bricklayer. Recalling his troubled youth, Steven says: “I wasn’t a bad person; it was just because of my past. It was like in my head I was going mad but I had nobody to help me.”
In 2001 Steven left his apprenticeship and joined 1 RHA where he “enjoyed companionship, trust and the team around me”. Unfortunately, he had to leave the Army because of family-related issues and found life very difficult until he met his wife in 2005 and had two sons. In 2008, he rejoined 1 RHA, managing fuel accounts and vehicle fleets and going on military training exercises.
In 2011, Steven suffered a back injury and spent the next few years having back surgery and in rehabilitation until he was medically discharged in 2014. He says: “When I re-joined, I absolutely loved it and enjoyed my work. When I broke my back, I was absolutely devastated, begged to stay. Obviously, it was not to be.”
After leaving the Army, Steven’s mental health deteriorated and he struggled to find regular employment, eventually ending up homeless. He contacted the Royal British Legion who put him in touch with Launchpad staff at the charity’s Avondale House in Newcastle.
In 2018, after moving into Avondale, Steven took part in Launchpad’s wellbeing activities and his mental health improved. He adopted Zena, a rescue dog who is now his close companion. He plans to move from Launchpad accommodation soon and live independently.
Steven says: “Launchpad has saved me; I would have been on the streets. When you have nothing and you’re living on the streets it’s like anything is better than nothing, even an empty flat. I have my own space, which I have been able to furnish thanks to the grant I received from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. I am very grateful for all the help.”