Mick, Corps of Royal Engineers

Corps of Royal Engineers cap badgeLockdown was a bad time for Bosnia Veteran, Mick. Clinically diagnosed with PTSD, his marriage had broken down and he too found himself homeless.

Mick was referred to Belisama’s by the Veteran’s charity, Never Surrender. Amid lockdown, we succeeded in getting Mick to Belisama’s, made sure he had the basics and settled him in for respite.

“When I got to Belisama’s I was in a mess. I had split up with my wife and was drinking heavily. JP picked me up, took me down to the Retreat and got me settled in. Within minutes I was having a brew next to the fire and just after was learning archery. Within a week I was in accomodation in Preston and was getting help for my alcohol consumption.
Mick, Corps of Royal Engineers

After helping him decide upon his recovery path, we referred Mick to the Lancashire Armed Forces Covenant Hub who re-homed him with the help of Creating Change Housing Management and engaged him with mental health support from Icarus and Red Rose Recovery.

He has identified his triggers, curbed his drinking and his mental and physical well-being is greatly improved.

I still go to the Retreat as often as I can and find the peace and quiet extremely beneficial for my PTSD. I go walking with Belisama’s Nomads an am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Mick, Corps of Royal Engineers

Mick continues to engage with Belisama’s and has become a much-valued volunteer and team member.

Johnny, Royal Regiment of Artillery

Royal Regiment of Artillery cap badgeJohn first visited the Retreat in 2018 with a drug and alcohol rehabilitation group from Yorkshire. A few months later he found himself homeless and in crisis and the only place he wanted to be was Belisama’s

“It was just such a fantastic place! A couple of months down the line of being sober I relapsed and was kicked out of my home. All I could think of was that I had to get back to Belisama’s.
John, Royal Regiment of Artillery

A few months later he found himself homeless and in crisis and the only place he wanted to be was Belisama’s. But he didn’t know where it was, only that it was near Preston so that’s where he went. It took him three days to find us!

I spent three days in Preston trying to find it. Stayed in a hotel one night just so I could have a shower and when I got there, spent a few weeks living in the woods.”
John, Royal Regiment of Artillery

We picked him up, took him to the Retreat, gave him security and company and asked what he wanted to achieve? John is an immensely proud Veteran, has always worked and found accepting help difficult but accepted that he needed a period of respite before moving forward.

John asked us to refer him to other Veterans groups. Within 24 hours of contacting Wigan Armed Forces HQ they had housed him, registered him with a GP’s surgery, dentist, JobCentre and referred him to mental health support services. Their intervention was rapid and effective. A textbook example of what should happen when a Veteran is in crisis.

John paid return visits to Belisama’s over the next few months and we were delighted to see his well-being lift: He engaged with counselling, re-built his relationship with his children, started work and got his teeth fixed. We wish him all the best.

Daz, Parachute Regiment

Parachute Regiment cap badgeWhen the first COVID-19 lockdown started, Daz found himself homeless and without a place to isolate in safety and so, we offered him sanctuary at the Retreat. It was the start of a productive three months.

He arrived with what possessions he had, we supplied sleeping and washing kit, food and shelter. His boots were falling apart but within 5 minutes of a social media call-out, another Veteran generously donated £100 to buy Daz a new pair. During his stay we received numerous donations of food, clothes and other equipment from all corners of the community.

I was welcomed, open-armed, with empathy and understanding. Belisama’s provide inclusion only found in the armed forces brotherhood.
Daz, Parachute Regiment

Daz is remarkably self-sufficient and quickly settled into our wilderness way of life for two months. In fact, we don’t believe he ever wanted to leave! Whilst at Belisama’s he put a tremendous effort into helping: Digging drainage ditches, getting our solar panels wired up, improving the water supply and adding hot water to our alfresco shower.

I fell on hared times, trying to help others but failing to look after myself. At the beginning of lockdown I had the good fortune to be referred to Belisama’s. I was my forest home during COVID-19 and felt more like a family, a group of people from common stock than just a place to stay. They lifted me, opened doors to understanding and a path to repair.
Daz, Parachute Regiment

All good things must come to an end and Daz decided it was time to take on the world again. He was re-homed by Wigan Armed Forces HQ in June 2020.