The 44-year-old had been living in the borough’s dedicated ‘move-on’ accommodation especially forces veterans in Bedford Avenue, Laygate, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The furnished one or two bedroom flats are made affordable for rent to those leaving the forces, with the aim of helping veterans to transition from service life to civilian life.
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“When I first moved into Bedford Avenue, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Mark said.
"But it has been a huge comfort for me and having the support on hand.
"If I ever need help with anything, it’s great to be able to just pick up the phone.”
Veterans in the move-on accommodation are also given priority housing status and are signed to a tenancy with a view to move into longer term accommodation within a year.
During that time, they are offered support, advice and assistance by the borough’s dedicated Armed Forces Support Officer.
Now Mark is delighted to have a place he can call his own. He said: “While I was sad to leave the property and Covid did delay things a little, I have this place now.
"I’m delighted to be in my forever home and I’m getting there in making it as homely as possible.”
South Tyneside’s dedicated supported accommodation for veterans was established by South Tyneside Homes, in partnership with South Tyneside Council, in 2018.
Over that time, it has supported more than 200 veterans while providing advice and support with the likes of benefits, pensions, employment and housing.
Referrals for veterans housing are made to South Tyneside Homes Housing Solutions Team by a range of partners including social services, the British Legion, HMP Service and armed forces charity, SSAFA.
Meanwhile South Tyneside NAFFI break provides a place where current and ex-Services personnel can meet, socialise, network and get advice and support on civilian life.
Mark said: “Being ex-services, I continue to take advantage of local support, such as the NAAFI Break, and I get advice and guidance with things like work and courses, which certainly helps ex-soldiers like me in adjusting to life outside the forces.”