Rossendale Charity Leads Way to Rehome Veteran

by Catherine Smyth Media

A VETERAN has been rehomed from a leaky cold flat into his own bungalow and is now viewing the future with renewed optimism.

When police discovered former Tank Regiment trooper Graham Riley he was in a very poorly condition in his flat; the roof leaked and rainwater seeped on to his bedding. He had lost confidence, become disheartened and rarely left the first-floor flat because of mobility issues.

Rossendale-based charity Veterans In Communities was asked to help and, after a year of working with various agencies, Graham, 44, is now living in supported accommodation in Haslingden and will have his own support workers.

He is an accomplished artist as visitors to Vincenzo’s in Crawshawbooth will know as he painted a huge mural on the restaurant wall.

Graham is now a regular at the VIC Centre in Bury Road, Haslingden, where he has made new friends and has renewed his interest in art and his hoping to get more commissions.

Graham said: “VIC is the only organisation to help me since I left the army. I was 18 when I went in and served for three years. Since I left I have had lots of different jobs but they were all very low paid.

“My new home is five times better than where I was – I now have central heating that works and I feel a lot better.”

Outreach and community development worker Suzanne Preston said: “Graham was found by the police in a dire situation.

“In the last 12 months while we have been working with him he has been in various levels of crisis including homelessness and ill health.

“Graham has multiple health issues including mental health and various members of VIC have been involved in assisting him along with many different agencies.

“I have been his advocate and I have supported him through the quagmire of bureaucracy to enable him to achieve a stable and healthy lifestyle.”

Suzanne praised the support Graham has received from Armed Forces and Veterans’ Champion Lancashire County Councillor Darren Clifford.

She said: “The neighbourhood officer at Green Vale Homes Andy Payne has gone above and beyond to help us get him sorted and there have been a number of agencies involved: LCC Care and Urgent Needs team, Accrington Used Furniture Store, British Gas, First Choice Credit Union, RAFT, The Royal British Legion and Rossendale Primary Health Care Centre reception staff.

“Partnership working has worked tremendously, not just veterans organisations but local organisations have worked together to improve his life. I am delighted that it has worked out for Graham.”

Green Vale Homes neighbourhood officer Andrew Payne said: “I became aware of the plight of Graham and worked with Suzanne Preston to help Graham into more suitable accommodation. Graham is a really nice guy who has had a difficult time of late it was a pleasure to be able to help him and work with VIC to do this”

Green Vale Homes Neighbourhood manager Mandy Whittaker added: “Officers at Green Vale Homes are always happy to assist individuals or work with agencies to access housing via the B-with-us Choice based lettings system. Working with VIC on this case has been an excellent example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved through partnership working.

“Green Vale Homes has recently supported VIC via small grant funding in recognition of the fantastic work they do in Rossendale.”

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