VETERANS have been given a purpose-built place to live following the opening of two new Royal British Legion Industries apartment blocks in Kent.
Situated near Maidstone, Victory House and Invictus Games House contain 24 one- and two-bed specially-adapted flats to accommodate ex-Service personnel who are wounded, injured, sick or at risk of homelessness.
The blocks are the first phase in RBLI’s plans to build a centenary village, which it aims to open in 2019 – its 100th anniversary.
Chief executive Steve Sherry, who served in the Army for 38 years, said: “We have existed for almost a century. In that time, through the collaborative efforts of the military charity community, we have helped thousands of veterans and their families secure employment and housing to stabilise their lives following their transition to civilian life after service.
“However, the job is not done. It is crucial that we do not forget that more remain in need of assistance UK wide and that is why we are so eager to make this project happen.”
Victory House is already home for Julie Ramsbottom, who received help from RBLI after returning to the UK following the breakdown of her marriage to a soldier.
She explained: “Me and my two boys found it very difficult in civvy street trying to adjust.
“We received help from RBLI – they offered us a house, which we had first and then they offered us this lovely place here, Victory House, and it’s absolutely fantastic.
“It’s a lovely family home: very spacious, very airy, very bright and we absolutely love being here.
“And because I wanted to put something back into Royal British Legion Industries – I became a volunteer for their Access to Work programme, and I work as a domiciliary carer at Queen Elizabeth Court in their village, which is assisted living.”
The new apartments were made possible thanks to £4m of funding from Libor money and donors including the Morrisons Foundation, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Garfield Western Foundation.
The two blocks will surround a former gold-medal winning Chelsea Flower Show garden, created by renowned designer Jo Thompson and donated by the Chelsea Barracks Foundation, which also funded the training of two horticulturalists who both now live and work on RBLI’s village.
Future plans include the construction of larger accommodation to ensure Service families have a stable home, an assisted living scheme to offer help to more injured and disabled veterans and a state-of-the-art community centre, which will offer welfare, support and training.