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"WWTW saved my life, and the ongoing support is amazing".
Matt’s affinity for the services
developed growing up listening to his Grampa’s stories; fascinating tales about
his time training and serving as an infantry soldier. He knew his
vocation in life would be to serve his country and much to his Mother’s dismay,
from a young age he yearned to be an infantry soldier.
Matt signed up in 1998 just before his eighteenth birthday, his initial ideal of joining the infantry was swayed in the recruitment office after watching a video for the RAF and he eagerly signed up to become a member of the RAF regiment, initially wanting to join the parachute regiment.
After he completed his training, he became member of the Queens Colour Squadron taking part in the Queen Mother's funeral and Prince Charles’s Birthday celebrations amongst other prominent events. Matt quickly progressed through training and eventually became a sniper.
Matt applied for premature voluntary release (PVR) early 2001, then that September the Twin Towers were hit, Matt instantly regretted his application. Late 2001 Matt commenced a tour of Cyprus and during 2002 his PVR application was placed on hold.
During 2003 Matt was deployed on Operation Telic (Iraq) but soon after deployment Matt received news of his Mum’s ill health and flew home, sadly his Mum died just two days after he returned home. The death of his Mother shook his world and Matt remained in the UK on compassionate leave.
Matt’s unit were deployed during his compassionate leave so Matt was transferred to repatriations on his return from leave, stationed at Briars Norton.
After his discharge in 2005 he began civilian life working as a HGV driver. Matt had gained his HGV licence in the military as this felt the logical path to take. Around this time, Matt had turned to drug use to aid him through his low points.
When Matt met his second Wife in 2010 he was in full time employment with JCB,
he recollects, “I fell head over heels”. They set up home together, got
married soon to be expecting a Son. During childbirth, Matt’s wife was
rushed to theatre for an emergency c section and surgery due to complications,
leaving Matt alone and full of questions. When he finally got to see them
both the realisation hit hard, his Wife and Son were fortunate to be alive!
Matt reflects this major trauma was the point at which his mental health
and personal wellbeing were at an all-time low.
Matts Wife came home from hospital suffering from post-natal depression. Adjusting to life with a new baby, his own personal mental health issues and his Wife’s post-natal depression was proving difficult for the new family; Matt’s drug use had escalated causing further friction in the household. The day after his Son’s second birthday in August 2015 Matt’s Wife kicked him out of the family home, he says “I would have kicked me out sooner”.
Matt began sofa surfing and stayed with an Aunt in North Wales for a short period. This arrangement ceased following an incident in which he “borrowed a friend’s car” without telling him. Matt was arrested and charged with taking vehicle without consent and to make matters worse he faced redundancy.
In a bid to make a new start, Matt moved to Manchester in 2015 with a mere £300 to his name taking refuge in a hostel and bouncing around from job to job. He moved into rented accommodation picking up work at festivals driving plant machinery but the environment was not great and the infrequency of the work had a knock on effect on his income. Unable to meet rent payments he lost his home and declared himself homeless during August 2018.
Matt’s first contact with Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) came following a referral from the Royal British Legion. Matt remembers being extremely nervous, not knowing what to expect, he felt embarrassed it was the first time he had asked anyone other than family for help.
Matt arranged to meet with the WWTW’s Welfare Officer at their Manchester office. He had been clean for three months admitting, “Being skint had helped” but he was desperate to stay that way. Matt speaks of his initial assessment and how the Welfare Officer listened intently to his circumstance and says, “He was down to earth, understanding and very candid with his words”. Matt had managed to scrape together enough money to fund 10 nights in a hostel.
WWTW Welfare Officer secured funding to enable Matt to gain his Driver CPC card and stayed in close contact with Matt. The Welfare Officer then sourced a spare room for Matt with WWTW client Gabe, they instantly hit it off and Matt felt grateful for the extra support, which uplifted his spirits tenfold.
Facilitated through the Welfare Officer Matt embarked on a pilot course “project Recce” that had been established by a former client of WWTW as an introduction into the construction industry, off the back of which he secured full time employment.
Feeling back in control of his life Matts revived outlook led to the start of a new relationship. Matt met his current partner, at the end of August 2018. WWTW Welfare Officer continued to work closely with Matt sourcing a bed and cooker amongst other items. Eight months later Matt and his partner were offered rented accommodation in veteran supported housing and are expecting their first child. Matt is now in full time employment with a construction company..
Matt is now enjoying life with his new family, feeling stable in full time employment and happy with life. Matt appreciates all the support he has received from WWTW stating, “WWTW saved my life, the ongoing support is amazing.”
Matt remains in close contact with WWTW, he attends corporate events when time permits to speak to potential supporters in support of charity fundraising. Matt was also a participant of WWTW fundraising eventCumbrian Challenge 2019, which he describes as “tough but brilliant”.