by Helen Ford
Looking at photographs from his days in the army, Kevin Clark tells me he can feel proud of his past. That hasn't always been the case.
Kevin joined the army at the age of sixteen, serving in Cyprus, Bosnia and Iraq. He left the forces in 2004 but struggled to return to civilian life. He and his family faced homelessness for a time and Kevin had a succession of jobs. At the root of his struggle to adapt: post traumatic stress disorder triggered by his experiences in Iraq.
Last year, Kevin's difficulties culminated in his arrest for a minor offence. In custody, he was offered assistance through a scheme called Project Nova. Run by two military charities, it is supported by Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces. In the North East, its team members are all ex-veterans, who put clients in touch with a network of support, depending of their needs.
Kevin Clark has received help for his PTSD and has recently taken part in work experience with the NHS. He is now hoping to become a health care assistant.
Hundreds of North East veterans find themselves in custody every year, many are arrested for relatively minor offences.
So what is the key to Project Nova's Work? Its North East co-ordinator told me they intervene at a pivotal moment in a person's life.
The scheme was introduced to the Northumbria police force area in June 2015, with Durham and Cleveland joining at the start of this year. Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird says veterans face specific issues: they can be traumatised as a result of their experiences, and often find it difficult to ask for help, as they are used to coping on their own.
One challenge is encouraging more veterans to take up the help on offer. Between September 2015 and March 2016, of almost 500 ex-forces personnel arrested by Northumbria police, only seventy seven asked to be referred to Project Nova.
At his home on Wearside, Kevin Clark says the support he has received has been twofold: helping him to come to terms with his past and look ahead to the future.
Watch my full report here:
For more information on Project Nova click here