Bell Group transforms communal space for veterans

Painting and decorating contractor, Bell Group has teamed up with veterans’ charity Launchpad to transform the communal lounge and kitchen area in one of its houses.

Staff from the firm visited Avondale House on the Byker estate in Newcastle upon Tyne to deliver a two-day upskilling and volunteering course where residents were taught the basics of painting techniques to improve their skills and knowledge.

Long-serving painters Ian and Lenny shared their experience with the residents and Dulux provided all the paint, tools and additional staff to transform the area, providing a calmer more modern space for the residents to enjoy.

The two-day upskilling event was delivered as part of the firm’s social value commitments, where it delivers investment in local communities and involves local people.

Launchpad provides accommodation and targeted support, with the help of specialist partners, to UK Armed Forces veterans experiencing homelessness and unemployment and those who have struggled with the transition from the military into civilian life.

Avondale House was the first house the charity opened in 2013 and comprises 33 self-contained one-bedroom flats for former serving personnel and their partners.

Stacey Halliday, Community Engagement Coordinator for Bell Group – Cumbria and & North East region, said: “Launchpad reached out to us and invited me to visit Avondale House in Newcastle and Hollyacre House in Durham. As part of our social value commitment and engagement with local communities, this has been a brilliant project to work on and to support our veterans.

“Our Social Value Strategy focuses on the societal issues that are a natural fit with our business: unemployment, inspiring young people, social inclusion, community regeneration and environmental issues. It is an integral part of our overall business strategy and is fully supported by Bell Group Directors and Senior Management.”

Sam Hughes, Assistant Manager – Projects at Launchpad’s Avondale House, said:

“We are very grateful to Bell Group and Dulux for coming in and helping the residents but also to redecorate our communal area and kitchen. This has made a huge difference and it’s nice that it has all been freshened up ready for Christmas. The residents really enjoyed learning new skills from Ian and Lenny and it will give them the confidence to use these skills when they eventually move on from Launchpad and live independently.”

Launchpad has three houses in the North of England in Newcastle, Liverpool and Durham providing accommodation for 101 homeless veterans – accepting veterans from all over the UK.

To date, over 635 veterans have been supported since 2013 and 139 residents were supported between July 2022 and end of June 2023. On average, over the last five years, 60% of residents successfully moved on from Launchpad to live independently and 32% gained employment during their time with Launchpad.

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