Pendleside Hospice teams up with Burnley military veterans charity Healthier Heroes

Pendleside Hospice has teamed up with a military veterans charity in Burnley.
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Healthier Heroes is home to 21 veterans at Bancroft House in Burnley and has offered their services as volunteers to the Pendleside furniture store in Church Street as part of their support and training.

Founder Andy Powell, an army veteran, and his wife Rio, approached Pendleside about the idea a few months ago while organising this year’s Armed Forces Day at Towneley Park, which took place in June, partly in aid of the hospice.

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Andy (42) a former colour sergeant who served in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and later the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, said: “Our residents sometimes work as volunteers for Pendleside and other charities in the area to give them a sense of responsibility. At Pendleside, they mainly work picking up furniture and delivering it to the furniture store.”

Healthier Heroes marquee at the Armed Forces Day at Towneley, which was organised by Andy PowellHealthier Heroes marquee at the Armed Forces Day at Towneley, which was organised by Andy Powell
Healthier Heroes marquee at the Armed Forces Day at Towneley, which was organised by Andy Powell

Since the collaboration started, Pendleside has given bereavement counselling to a couple of Healthier Heroes residents.

The charity is run by Andy, who served in conflicts across the Middle East and Afghanistan during his 16 years in the Army, and his wife Rio, a former schoolteacher, who has experience in health and wellbeing, mindfulness and life coaching.

Healthier Heroes – which has won Best Of Lancashire accolades and is a holder of an Employee Recognition Scheme gold award – provides supported living accommodation, and aims to rehabilitate and reconnect veterans and their families.

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Andy said: “After I left the Army, I suffered my own mental health issues but when I reached out for help I didn’t feel there was the support there that I needed. So, after working in private close protection work in the Middle East, I decided to set up a not-for-profit charity to give the help to veterans I believed was missing.”

The charity supports veterans who have found themselves living rough, sofa surfing, or even having been released from prison with nowhere to go.

“Sometimes the veterans have literally knocked on our doors for help but usually they are referred to us by the police or ambulance services, local authorities, NHS Trusts, mental health charities, the probation service or the prison service.

“I personally go into five prisons in the North-West to help guide veterans on the build-up to their release as part of our peer-mentoring scheme, which helps them rebuild their lives and find jobs.

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“To help train or find employment for all of our residents, we have partnerships with local businesses and organisations like Lancashire Adult Learning and Nelson and Colne College."

Healthier Heroes has come to the aid of around 320 veterans, including in their own homes, since 2020, delivering services like psychotherapy, process-based therapy counselling, well-being classes, to drug and alcohol recovery programmes.

Louisa Mayor, Pendleside’s Head of Income Generation, said: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Healthier Heroes, which is already having a huge impact on the future lives of military veterans who have been suffering mental health issues or simply adapting to life outside the services.

“It is a two-way partnership, which has seen Healthier Heroes residents volunteer by helping our furniture store and in turn we have been able to give bereavement counselling to some residents who have lost loved ones.”