Helping hand could be on the way for veterans in Hartlepool

Norcare chief executive Susan Bickerton
Norcare chief executive Susan Bickerton

HARTLEPOOL could get its own “much-needed” centre for homeless ex-service personnel.

Supported housing charity Norcare is looking at opening up a home in the town for veterans who have fallen on hard times or may not have independent life skills after life in the forces.

Up to seven ex-servicemen or women would live in the home and be able to access support services that could eventually help them live independently and integrate back into civilian society.

It would mirror similar veterans’ homes run by Norcare, which is part of the Fabrick housing group that will form a partnership with Vela called Thirteen, in Newcastle and Gateshead.

A number of locations are possible, but Norcare has a house in St Paul’s Road which was previously used for another service and is now available and that could be a potential site.

Norcare chief executive Susan Bickerton said: “In talking with the leader and some of the officers at Hartlepool council it became clear that they would be willing to help in whatever way they can with people who have come out of the services.

“We have been looking at whether or not there might be some premises that are appropriate to use to set up a centre in Hartlepool.

“We are also exploring sources of funding to help.”

She said by having such a centre, ex-forces personnel often come together and find a common interest and they then support each other, which brings back confidence and self-esteem.

Mrs Bickerton said veterans’ lives can go off track for a number of reasons, including family break-down or losing a job.

Norcare, which has helped more than 100 veterans in the past three years, can help with a number of services, including accommodation, employment skills and mental health.

Mrs Bickerton said the next step is to explore funding and added: “I hope we can do something in Hartlepool.”

The leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, said the plans are in the “embryonic” stages and said the council can help Norcare make the scheme become a reality.

He added: “We really do want a veterans’ centre in Hartlepool – for us it’s like a missing service. It’s a very much needed service.”