Lifeline charity for veterans in crisis warns it needs urgent help to keep going

  • Video report by Sarah Rogers

The number of former servicemen and women in crisis is stretching services to their limit, according to a Lancashire charity working to support them.

The government says it wants the UK to be the best place in the world to be a veteran by 2028, but Healthier Heroes - based in Burnley - say urgent investment is needed in order to achieve that.

Staff say the scale of homelessness, drug addiction and even suicide go far beyond what people might imagine.

Healthier heroes is based in Burnley and they need to find £100,000 to keep going

The charity has 21 residential places to support homeless veterans in times of crisis, many of whom have PTSD from what they've seen on the battle field, injuries and drug and alcohol problems.

It also provides around 100 families across the North West with practical support if ex-personnel are struggling to adapt to civilian life.

While filming with Granada Reports, staff took a call from an ex-servicemen who once risked his life for his country now talking about ending it. The call taker scrambled to get him transported to hospital.

In 2020, it's estimated that around seven veterans and serving troops died by suicide each month.

It was a situation like this that encouraged Andrew Powell to set up the charity in the first place - his friend and ex-serviceman took his own life.

He says the problem of addiction and homelessness is "massive, far greater than what some people want to acknowledge.".

Lance Sergeant Warren Routh served in Afghanistan

Warren Routh served in Afghanistan but ended up on the streets and tried to take his own life. He also struggled with alcohol addiction.

"I served my country so I deserve a bit of help," he said. "The Government needs to start giving some funding out," he added.

Warren moved into the accommodation five months ago, and is now doing really well - so much so he's helping to support others and training to be a councillor.

Healthier Heroes is a charity supporting military veterans

The service costs a quarter of a million a year to run - Andrew says this means having to find £100,000 to keep going.

In January, the government set out a two year strategy to support veterans including £18 million more on NHS health services.

Healthier Heroes says it has many success stories, but demand for its services continues to grow and they're concerned they won't be able to reach everyone in need.

If you're struggling with your mental health find support here.