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Grant Updates
How a Liverpool charity help Veterans defeat addiction
November 30 2020

How does Tom Harrison House help Veterans?

Tom Harrison House is based in Liverpool and offers Veterans and their families an opportunity to beat their addiction problems. 

Tom Harrison House run 12-week, trauma-informed addiction recovery programmes. Tom Harrison House also offers accommodation to the Veterans which enables them to provide support and therapy 7 days a week. The recovery programme includes personal recovery planning, group work, assignments and reintegration work alongside equine therapy, art, nutrition, physical fitness, yoga and mindfulness.

The charity includes a sanctuary for rescued horses and ponies in innercity Liverpool. The horses are rescued from situations that often see them mistreated and abused. The Veterans help look after the horses at the stable as part of their rehabilitation programme. There is a common bond the Veterans tend to see between themselves and the horses that they look after as part of their rehabilitation. Veterans, much like the animals they look after, often feel neglected once they leave the Armed Forces and have to make the transition away from the life they have had for years. 

Working with the horses gives Veterans a sense of responsibility, teamwork and a real sense of achievement. When a Veteran watches a horse who doesn’t tend to respond well to people start becoming more comfortable around people because of the patience of dedication they have had with looking after the animal, it can be truly cathartic.

One Veteran who has been helped by Tom Harrison House explains how leaving the Army affected him: “From the Army, I went straight to prison and did a long spell there. I then went home for a year. I then lived on the streets for 12 years. During that time I was using drugs and drinking, I couldn't stop drinking and became an alcoholic.” He credits Tom Harrison with saving his life: “Life is fantastic now, I've got my family back, I've never been this happy since leaving the Army.” He now works part-time for the charity and helps shepherd other Veterans’ through the rehabilitation process.

This Veteran’s experiences are unfortunately not uncommon, he tried using civilian treatment programmes but found that he couldn't talk about his military background. Many charities that work with Veterans have found that talking about their experiences with non-Veterans is troublesome because they cannot understand how the unique experiences members of the Armed Forces face and how they affect them. Veterans' often need to talk with other Veterans about their struggles as it is often only other Veterans' who share similar experiences. Many Veterans find themselves being helped by learning from the experiences of older Veterans' who have already gone through the difficult transition from life in the Armed Forces to civilian life.

There could not be a more appropriate review of the work Tom Harrison House carries out than his: "Nobody could relate to me because I was an ex-soldier," he said. "I remember the very first day I came to Tom Harrison House and I was made to feel welcome straight away."

Veterans’ Foundation has given over £4 million to over 230 military charities including Tom Harrison House. We are proud to support the work of charities like this one, to help us continue to give large grants to Veterans’ charities please play the Veterans’ Lottery or donate today.

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