Burnley based flagship project to help ex veterans is full just two months after opening its doors

Two months after opening its doors, a flagship project in Burnley that offers a lifeline to ex soldiers struggling to get back on their feet, is full.

And there is a waiting list for people desperate for the services of Healthier Heroes, a hub for veterans and their families.

The success of the project has topped all expectations of founder Andrew Powell, an ex soldier himself who set up the project in December 2020, after completing a successful project previously. But it was always his dream to launch Healthier Heroes in his hometown of Burnley.

"Within two weeks of opening we had people knocking on the door wanting support. And we are now full with 21 veterans or those who are part of the armed forces family here," said Andy.

Healthier Heroes' resident Mike Smith says the project has helped him to turn his life around

"What is happening here is monumental. We are transforming people's lives on a daily basis, people who are coming to us from across the whole of Lancashire.

"We have a waiting list now."

Healthier Heroes provide 24-hour support on different levels for ex veterans operating on a two-tier housing system with the first one being complete support for the veterans to help them face their issues and deal with any drug related problems and addictions, or mental health issues they may have. They will receive intensive and professional help and counselling.

Then they move to the second tier, where they will live independently within the project, managing their own living space, having learnt how to cook, and budget and then also look at finding employment or go into re-training.

Rio Powell, who is the service delivery director at Healthier Heroes, receives the laptops from Recycle IT's managing director Rob Doherty and business development manager Carl Greenwood.

Since Healthier Heroes, a community interest not for profit company, was launched it has helped 200 veterans and their families and Andrew wants to extend that even further to the whole of Lancashire.

Businesses and organisations across Burnley and East Lancashire have thrown their support behind Healthier Heroes with a raft of donations.

The latest company to make a donation was Burnley based RecycleIT. One of the UK’s leading providers of IT management services and ethical hardware recycling, the company delivered 15 fully installed desk top computers for residents to use.

The public and several companies and organisations have also donated items including: Gateway, Heyworth Networks LTD, Option Hygiene, Ao.com, Husky Carpet and Upholstery, Morgan Siddell construction, Mills and Reeves, Poundsnax, Burnley Eats, Tackling Minds, Jossy's Airport transfers, Warburton's, Butchers Fayre, The Muscle Factory gym, Eccleston Parish Council, Bethel Evangelical Church, Great Harwood Women's Institute, Acero Construction, Calico Homes, St Peter's GP surgery, Tesco, Morrison's, Elisha House and Colne Citadel, Cuppa Cake Limited and Boohoo.com.

Mike and some of his fellow residents at Healthier Heroes

Fitness instructor George Stobbs, who is also an ex serviceman, was so impressed by the work of Healthier Heroes he has offered to run fitness classes and coaching for free, once a week.

He said: "It has been well documented that exercise can improve mental health so the benefits from training that people here at Healthier Heroes can gain is massive."

One of the residents at Healthier Heroes spoke from the heart about what the project has done for him.

Mike Smith had already made one suicide attempt when he received a phone call from Healthier Heroes offering to help him. Battling with drink and drug addictions, Mike agreed to speak to the Burnley Express and his moving testimony is proof of the project's success.

"I have now been clean for 54 days," Mike said. "My whole life has changed dramatically, and it is thanks to the help I have received here at Healthier Heroes.

"I feel at home here and what has happened to me in such a short period of time is nothing short of amazing.

"Coming here was the best thing that has ever happened to me and I have never been so determined to turn my life around."

Healthier Heroes has been established in one of Burnley's most historic buildings in Elizabeth Street that once served as the original town hall.

And during the VIP opening in December by the Mayor of Burnley Coun. Wajid Khan the building was named Bancroft House in Honour of Jordan Bancroft, a young soldier from Burnley who died 10 years ago in Afghanistan.