AS a project engineer at a major American firm, veteran David Tindale had, in many respects, successfully made the transition from military to civilian life. However, in 2011, things began to unravel. Mr Tindale was made redundant and was soon struggling to pay his mortgage.

Unable to access help, he was told the house, in Crook, would be repossessed, and days later his wife left for America, taking the couple’s son. Mr Tindale, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for eight years and also worked for the Ministry of Defence, ended up in a homeless shelter for veterans.

He thought he had hit rock bottom but he soon realised there were veterans in even worse situations. Not only were they were homeless but they were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and battling drug and alcohol addictions. These men and women were struggling to adapt to civilian life and were trapped in a vicious cycle, unable to hold down jobs or maintain relationships. The story of one veteran was especially distressing and inspired Mr Tindale to take action.

“I told him if I could help him I would, but whatever happened I would be there for him until the bitter end,” said Mr Tindale. “I would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him, and seven years later I am still fighting for him.”

Mr Tindale, 59, eventually moved into a flat in the Chester-le-Street area, and began to run an outreach service for a veterans’ charity in the North-East. However, after a few years, he felt he would be more effective if he set up on his own, and, in 2014, he launched Changing Step (North-East).

The not-for-profit social enterprise is ran purely by volunteers, many ex-military like Mr Tindale. Its aim is to help servicemen and women make the transition to civvy street; equipping them with the lifeskills they need to secure jobs, homes and furniture, and ensuring they can access health care.

“It is not just about rehoming people,” said Mr Tindale. “It is about tackling the issues that led them to become homeless, whether that be improving their employment skills or helping them access counselling or drugs and alcohol treatment.”

In the last two years alone, the team has received more than 200 referrals from military charities and other partner organisations. They have helped almost 40 veterans find new homes and are often called upon to assist with suicide interventions.

Former Army bomb disposal expert, Wayne Bowron, from Crook, is one of many veterans to have benefited from the service. The 44-year-old, who has PTSD, was unable to settle after leaving the forces, and ended up ‘sofa surfing’ at friends’ houses. Thanks to help from Changing Step, he has set up his own gardening business, rebuilt his relationship with his partner and now volunteers alongside Mr Tindale.

“A lot of veterans don’t want to accept help, and I was the same,” said the father-of-four. “Dave helped me sort things out for myself and I think that is Changing Step’s strength. We are ex-military and we understand.”

Mr Tindale said: “ We are there to help 24 hours a day. People’s lives don’t necessarily fall apart between nine and five.”

To find out more, visit, join Changing Step (North East) on Facebook or contact 07713738236.