During 2015 Veterans In Action were invited for a meeting at the Officers Mess at 26 Engineer Regiment by the Officer Commanding 33 Armoured Engineer Squadron Major Anna Scott to discuss plans for a task to build a structure at the VIA ALIVE Centre.
The aim of the task was threefold with the first aim being that due to recent conflicts soldiers from the Squadron had been unable to use their artisan trades so the task would enable them to get some valuable on site training which would be used on their next deployment overseas.
The second aim of the task was to upgrade the VIA ALIVE Centre to include a new structure which would incorporate a kitchen, wet room and project room. Thirdly by building the structure it would enable VIA to design more projects that would help those veterans on VIA’s ALIVE Program.
The stumbling block for the task was how it was to be funded and during the meeting with Major Scott, the Sqn officers and SNCO’s it was decided that VIA would put out an online appeal for the funds to carry out the task with the possibility that only enough funds would be raised to carry out part of the task in the time frame that we had to work with.
A start date was set for the 02nd of November 2015 which gave us two months to raise funds, a huge task. VIA put together the appeal calling it VIA SOS – The Wee Build as a parody of the well known TV programme that had built houses in Manchester for veterans where some of the VIA Team and supporters had taken part on. The funds flowed in from veterans and supporters of VIA and over £23,000 was raised over this period and also sponsored building materials from several companies which meant the task could be completed.
The task was unique in that serving personnel and veterans would be working with a military charity with the purpose of helping veterans with the funding coming from veterans and supporters of veterans.
The initial work was carried out during November and December 2015 with the basic structure and services completed with the second phase fit out of the kitchen, wet room and project room to be completed by VIA Team Members and veterans on the ALIVE Program with veterans who were using the skills they learned in the services and who were now using these skills in their civilian jobs.
For the second phase of the build we received fantastic sponsorship from KNOWHOW at Curry’s PC World who supplied us with everything we needed for the kitchen including, American style fridge, range cooker, washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, micro wave oven mixers, juicer, bread maker, toasters, steamer and other smaller items. This sponsorship was more than we ever expected and has made the kitchen a space where veterans can use to learn cooking skills as part of a new project called Veterans Healthy Living.
Since the end of this project the VIA Team have continued to develop the centre and with the relationship built with the soldiers from 26 Engineer Regiment a new project was developed called ALIVE Amateur Boxing Club and once again KNOWHOW have stepped in to help us by supplying the following items 2 x 43″ LG 4k Tv’s, 2 x LG Soundbars, 3 x HP All in One PC’s, WD Mycloud Mirror 4Tb, 2 x 2m HDMI cables, I x Saunus TV Full Motion Wall Mount, 1 X Fixed Medium TV Mount Starter Kit, 1x Intuos Art WACOM Creative Pen and Touch Pad.
One TV will be used in the project room which is also used as a waiting room for ALIVE ABC and will also be used for Power Point presentations on the work we do and to run courses for VIA and other organisations. The second TV will be used in the boxing gym and will enable the boxing coaches to use video analysis to improve boxers techniques. The soundbars will be used in conjunction with the TV’s in both locations.
The computers will be used in the VIA offices and all will be linked to the Mycloud storage system for better security and access to files from different locations. The WACOM tablet will be used by the Made by Veterans Project to design for items made by veterans within the project.
VIA would like to thank KNOWHOW for their continued support of Veterans In Action, you are making a real difference to the work we do, greatly appreciated.