HELP is at hand for former servicemen and women in North Yorkshire struggling to re-integrate into civilian life having returned from a war zone.

SPACES, the Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex-Services run by housing association Riverside-ECHG. Riverside’s national helpline has, since 2000, helped 12,000 ex-Servicemen and women find housing.

The Beacon is their flagship rehabilitation and accommodation centre near Catterick Garrison.

Alcohol misuse, mental health issues, unemployment, family breakdown and homelessness are all issues at the coalface of Riverside’s work.

24 year-old Daniel Maddison contacted Riverside having joined the Army when he was 18. On February 1 2014, after six years’ service in the Queen’s Royal Lancers, he left and became homeless.

“My wife wasn’t happy with me going away all the time,” he said. “I left to try and save the marriage and keep her happy but the marriage broke down. All my plans were gone.

“Since I moved into the Beacon I’ve been doing courses. I started setting up my own company, and this week finalised a business plan.”

It’s a remarkable turn-around in just two months.

He also writes music and recorded his own song and film for The Beacon, which the team show to prospective volunteers to show them what they can achieve.

Although Daniel didn’t want to talk about his experiences in Afghanistan, many of the homeless Veterans at The Beacon are struggling with a range of issues from addiction to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Nationally the charity Combat Stress has revealed that the number of Afghanistan veterans seeking help for mental health problems grew last year and is likely to peak again this year as the British military ends its 13-year conflict in the country, according to new figures published on Monday.

Lesley Swales is Riverside’s Specialist Support Worker in Education, Training and Employment at The Beacon. She works with two other support workers who assesses the Veterans, and signpost them to medical care, counselling and relevant training.

Lesley said: “If you’re living on the streets, the main problem is housing, once that’s resolved, everything else that caused that situation churns up.”

Often Veterans can struggle to ask for help: “They face things we run away from. For them to turn around and say they’re not coping is extremely difficult.”

Often Veterans can feel worthless, lack confidence or self-belief.

“The difficulty with PTSD is you don’t see it. Wounds heal, mental health doesn’t sometimes, and it can be learning how to manage it,” Lesley said.

For Daniel, it was more a matter of feeling lost after leaving the Army. He was unable to turn to his mother, who was coping with his 7-year-old autistic brother, and has a heart condition.

Daniel said: “Staying there wasn’t good for either of them, I had to fend for myself,” he said, adding his dad is not in his life. “I can’t remember when I last saw him…The things I miss is the Army is like a family, everyone helps each other. When you come out on Civvy Street, you don’t get that. The bond in the military is unique.”

Lesley agreed: “In the Forces, everything is taken care of. The Army has been their family, with three square meals a day, a roof, so when you leave it’s very isolating, they don’t belong anywhere. Everything– friends, life, career – gone in one fell swoop.”

She added: “If people have relationship issues, they leave the Forces to come home and put it right, but find they’ve barely spent time with their wife, and realise they don’t like each other. Or the wife has been effectively a single parent and there’s no room for him. It fails quite quickly. Often they leave with just the clothes on their back.”

Lesley put Daniel on a Compliance Instructor Course, donated by Train 2 Train, which gave him a teaching qualification. He had a ‘shining light’ moment during the course.

Daniel said: “I decided to use those qualifications. It’s about making something of my life, turning it around. My business is called Vital Training, basically it’s going to deliver training to schools, nurseries, and companies in First Aid and Health and Safety.”

Support was found for Daniel to produce a business plan with pro bono accountancy help from Malcolm & Bridgett Jones from Pickering. He’s joined a business start-up group, designed a company logo, and produced his website.

Daniel said. “It can be stressful, I’ve never worked for myself before, so have to learn so much so quickly. I can be up till 2 or 3 at night.”

Out of the 63 Veterans Lesley has worked with in the past year, 77% have gone into work. Those too ill are still given training, such as IT skills, to improve their quality of life.

Daniel is now in a positive place and in a new relationship.

“When I went through the marriage breakdown I was very depressed, and now I’ve met someone I’m getting happier and happier. Once I began the business, it all came together. Where I am today wouldn’t be possible without that support, it’s helped me massively. I’d ask that people don’t turn their heads.”

For Lesley, when Veterans leave the Beacon “they look different, they stand taller.”

Any single Veteran facing homelessness can call Riverside’s SPACES on 01748 833797 / 830191 / 872940.