Wiltshire housing partnership launches scheme to create employment opportunities for veterans at new flagship site

Affordable housing provider Stonewater and leading developer Lovell have teamed up with veterans’ charity Alabaré and Wiltshire Council to provide ex-military personnel with work, mentoring and the opportunity to secure a new affordable home.

Drummond park

In Ludgershall, at Drummond Park, the former Defence Medical Equipment Depot, the partners have launched a Veteran Community Build, which will enable ex-servicemen and women to join the Lovell workforce, learning valuable, transferable skills to increase their opportunities of securing long-term employment.

At the end of the programme, each veteran will have the opportunity to live in one of the homes managed by Stonewater that they have helped to build.

The first cohort of three veterans, consisting of Kevin Chapman, 48, Jamie Powell, 24, and Lee Hulbert, 39, have been welcomed to Drummond Park this month (May) to undertake a year-long work placement.

Over the year, Kevin, Jamie and Lee will receive training from Lovell, which will focus on learning construction skills, and support from Alabaré to rebuild their self-esteem and wellbeing. This will include helping the veterans gain skills such as budgeting and interview techniques, to help them successfully maintain their tenancy and future employment.

Kevin, from Salisbury, is an RAF veteran who served for nine years working as a propulsion technician, mostly in Scotland, and held the rank of Sergeant upon leaving. In September 2021, Kevin sought help from Alabaré. The charity was able to provide Kevin with a place in one of its Wiltshire homes, which he moved into in March 2022.

Kevin said: “I was really excited to be offered the opportunity to take part in this veterans’ build, and to have joined the Building Heroes course. This is an intensive course that I am already thoroughly enjoying, and value that by the end of the course, I will be fully qualified to work on the Ludgershall site.

“I am looking forward to the potential of a new career, as well as being excited to have the opportunity to build a new home that I can ultimately live in. The future is very bright now I’m on this project, and I’m really thankful to Lovell, Alabaré and Stonewater.”

Jamie, from Kent, served six years in the Army, first in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in Germany and Brighton as an infanteer, and then in Larkhill with 32 Regiment Royal Artillery as a drone operator. In 2021, he was given accommodation through Alabaré, and offered the opportunity to join the scheme at Drummond Park.

Jamie said: “Since joining the Building Heroes course six weeks ago, I’ve found a new passion in carpentry and would love to one day run my own business. This opportunity doesn’t come around much, and I’m going to put in all my effort.

“I want to say a big thank you to Lovell, Alabaré and Stonewater for helping me get my future career up and running. I’m looking forward to living a happy life as a fully-trained carpenter.”

Lee, from Wiltshire, is an Army veteran having served eight years in The Rifles regiment as an infanteer in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. He came to Alabaré in June 2021 and now lives in another of its homes in the county, and has since been involved with a variety of charity projects.

Lee said: “This course is a lifesaver for people like me, it’s going to put me on the road to recovery and, at the end, provide me with a job and a wage. I’m looking forward to being part of a group again, being back at work and gaining as many skills as I can.

“My outlook has massively changed now I have this opportunity. I’m really excited to take on a diverse range of roles to see what I enjoy most, and to build my own home.”

Major (Rtd) Ken Hames MBE, Chief Operating Officer of Alabaré Self Build for Veterans, said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with Lovell and Stonewater to deliver this exciting housing development in Ludgershall.

“We have completed eight Veteran Community Builds to date and rehoused over 160 veterans and their dependents, where the majority are now in full time employment and in many cases, reconnected with their families.

“What makes the Veteran Community Build stand out is that while our veterans will have many opportunities to learn new skills on the building site which could lead into employment, it is the personal development that happens alongside it that is fundamental to recovery. The site, its rigour and its creativity improve attitude, mindset, and mental health that, when aligned, help enable a veteran to reintegrating back into the community and manage their new tenancy successfully.

“Schemes like this offer exciting opportunities to veterans and communities alike, where regeneration and better housing provision are witnessed first-hand.”

Regional managing director at Lovell, James Duffett, said: “At Lovell, we are committed to supporting local veterans across Wiltshire, and our partnership with Alabaré serves as a wonderful opportunity to provide ex-military personnel with affordable housing and key skills to embark on a career in construction.

“We hope that our collaboration will enable veterans who may have had bad experiences to integrate back into society successfully, and we believe in the importance of achieving this through teamwork exhibited by our site teams, who provide great mentoring and skill enhancement opportunities.

“The scheme will benefit the veterans no matter which pathway they wish to take during and at the end of the process, whether that is finding their future in the industry or increasing their chances of gaining employment in another field.

“We are truly inspired by our local veterans, and we believe it is so important to provide opportunities like this to help give back to the community.”

Matthew Crucefix, Director of Development (South & West) at Stonewater, said: “We are really pleased to be once again partnering with Alabaré to deliver a scheme that offers opportunities to veterans to gain valuable skills, whilst also securing a home for themselves.

“Drummond Park marks the first time since the creation of Stonewater in 2015 that we’ll be working alongside Lovell, and so we hope to see the scheme be the forerunner to future opportunities.

“Our first veterans’ scheme in Leominster is now home to six veterans who worked on the community build project, with two of the veterans now also in full time employment. We look forward to seeing similar outcomes for the veterans that will work on this project over the coming months.”

At Drummond Park, housebuilding has commenced and the show complex is now open for reservations, in advance of the official showhome opening in summer 2022.

Drummond Park is being delivered by Lovell in partnership with Homes England, and will consist of 412 homes, including a collection of 309 two, three and four-bedroom open market Lovell homes and 103 affordable homes – 40 per cent shared ownership and 60 per cent affordable rent – for Stonewater.