Homeless war veteran centre opens in Newcastle
A new centre to help some of the hundreds of homeless war veterans across the UK has opened in Newcastle.
The centre is the first of its kind north of London and will help veterans who are homeless and suffering with mental health issues, alcohol and drug problems and family breakdown.
The centre has been set up by housing support charity Norcare.
It was officially opened at noon by The Lord Mayor of Newcastle and guest Thomas Sivell, a 104-year old veteran.
Mr Sivell served in the Far East as well as in World War II.
The Norcare Veterans' Centre will offer supported accommodation in fully furnished en-suite rooms as well as outreach services.
Susan Bickerton, Norcare chief executive, said: "There is a hidden army of veterans that are slipping through the support net and ending up homeless or suffering problems with alcohol or drug addiction or mental ill health.
"Many struggle to adapt to life outside the forces and are reluctant to ask for help when they fall on hard times."
The centre has been set up in a converted private house. It has residential spaces for a total of five veterans who are expected to stay for between six and 12 months and will be supported to move on to independent living.
The outreach service to other veterans in the area expects to help up to 75 veterans a year.
The Norcare Veterans' Centre, which has been set up as a pilot, was established at a cost of £700,000.
The British Legion provided £232,000 over a two-year period for the operational costs of running the centre, Norcare is investing £200,000 in the project, and the Futurebuilders England Fund has loaned Norcare £219,000 plus an additional grant of £47,000.