Army veteran Steve King spent his first Christmas in his new home after we rescued him from homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic.
After losing his job and home and living in a hostel, the 49-year-old father-of-two moved into a bungalow with the help of our team in Merseyside.
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Steve originally joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) in 1989 and served during Operation Desert Storm. But whilst on exercise in Germany in 1996, preparing to go to Bosnia, he suffered a serious injury, plunging 20ft from a lorry and shattering his leg.
"That one moment changed my life," says Steve.
I’ve been through 14 operations including ankle fusion, but the pain is still unbearable.
"Even now I would prefer an amputation because of the pain but I understand that isn’t the answer, although it feels as though I’ve lost the leg already."
After his medical discharge, Steve worked in sales, but the effects of his injury became too much to bear and he had to stop working, which led to a downward spiral.
Steve said: "I hit rock bottom, losing my job, my marriage and my house in a short period.
"In desperation, I rang RBL and they were fantastic, they got me into a hostel and I stayed there for three months during lockdown.
"But thanks to them, they’ve helped me to find a bungalow, which is perfect for me."
We’ve also supported Steve with a mobility scooter, furnishings and removal costs.
Adam Gillett is our Independent Living Regional Lead in the North and was part of the team that helped Steve.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has had an overwhelming impact on people’s livelihoods and way of life, leaving some in the Armed Forces community in dire need of urgent help and support," he said.
"Our work is more vital than ever as we support our community through additional hardships from those struggling with social isolation, financial difficulties and unemployment, to those who have lost loved ones or are facing the threat of homelessness."
Steve is also receiving support from his Case Officer Sarah Abbotson.
"Steve should be proud of himself, working through his problems, especially against the backdrop of lockdown," said Sarah.
"His case demonstrates how donations made during the Poppy Appeal can help us provide life-long support to Service and ex-Service personnel and their families through hardships, injuries and bereavements."
As Steve continues his recovery, he has now taken up photography.
"It’s my therapy and taking photos puts my mind in a different place," he explains.
"I’ve struggled over the past 18 months, and still struggle now, but the support I’ve had from Adam and Sarah has been unforgettable.
"I know they both have so many clients to care for, especially during Covid-19, but I never felt that I was just a client, I never felt that I was just a name on a list.