- A veteran who grew up in the Duke Bar area of Burnley has set up a support centre for other former armed forces at Bancroft House;
- Andrew Powell, who grew up in Duke Bar, told Burnley.co.uk he was inspired to help other veterans after going through his own mental health struggles;
- Local businesses can buy in to support the work it does and contribute to improved social outcomes for the communities in which they operate.
A veteran who grew up in the Duke Bar area of Burnley has set up a support centre for other former armed forces at Bancroft House.
Andrew Powell joined the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment in 1996 and served until 2013, when he retired from his role as a Colour Sergeant.
Speaking to Burnley.co.uk, Andrew told us how he was inspired to help other veterans after going through his own mental health struggles. He set up Healthier Heroes to promote wellbeing amongst support former armed forces, as well as help them overcome social isolation, homelessness, addiction and mental health challenges.
“There are many veterans who very sadly have challenges such as mental health. I’m one of them and I can relate to the people we help. Although it’s incredibly hard to talk about, I’m not afraid to admit that I have attempted suicide on more than one occasion, so I completely understand what other people in a similar position are going through,” he said.
And such is Andrew’s commitment, that he is set to open a 22-bedroom mental health and addiction support facility at Bancroft House on Elizabeth Street, which used to be the original town hall.
It is named after Burnley soldier Lance Corporal Jordan Dean Bancroft, who died during a tour of Afghanistan ten years ago.
“The need is there across the UK. We already have 21 people on the list ready to move into Bancroft House, which takes in veterans across Lancashire, both male and female. It’s free of charge for those who use it, and they receive a full support package whilst living here. The intention is they stay with us for two years and by the end of it, are equipped to live within the community, which may mean back with their families,” Andrew explained.
Working with and for the community
Residents of Bancroft House will be upskilled via the Lancashire Adult Learning Centre, whilst they will also receive counselling and support for mental health and addiction issues, where relevant. They are also expected to give back to the community via volunteering and social enterprise projects. Volunteering in the community is a key condition for those who live at Bancroft House.
“There are five different social enterprise projects which we run. For example, there may be a need within the community for gardening, fence building or painting and they can use our residents at a donated rate, rather than a full tradesperson rate,” Andrew said.
Bancroft House, which officially opens this Saturday 5th December, is entirely run through donations and funding streams. Local businesses can buy in to support the work it does and contribute to improved social outcomes for the communities in which they operate. As well as supporting this important work, businesses will be placed on the patron wall and their logo on the Healthier Heroes website.
Members of the public can also donate or organise fundraising to support the work of Healthier Heroes in getting veterans back into the community and with their families.
We wish Andrew and the team at Healthier Heroes all the best and best of luck to the first residents who are due to move in.