Nuneaton's Veterans Contact Centre is getting a makeover with one very important addition

A dream is to become a reality for Nuneaton’s dedicated veterans champions as their HQ is to receive a £200,000 make-over to become a super community centre.

The Veterans Contact Point (VCP) based in the Horsa Building off Bentley Road will be extended to include desperately needed emergency accommodation for ex-servicemen and women as well as veterans who have nowhere else to go.

It is thanks to infrastructure experts Balfour Beatty that the extension works are to be carried out, as soon as October.

Firstly, Warwickshire County Council , which currently owns the building, is going to repair a long-standing leaking roof in September, then the "fabulous" works can start according to Len Hardy, chair of the VCP.

He said the idea to give the VCP HQ a much-needed make-over was first mooted at a Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Strategic Partnership meeting, which includes organisations from across the area.

The Veterans Contact Point which is to receive a new roof and extension to become a super community centre

What’s wrong with the building?

The building, formally part of Queens Junior School, is run down, cold, inefficient, inaccessible for the disabled, has poor lighting, poor use of space and lack of storage.

“Balfour Beatty were there (at the meeting) and they spoke about their Giving Back project and basically said ‘what do you want doing?’” the chairman said.

A complete refurbishment was not achievable but the extension idea soon gathered pace.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us, we will finally have a fit-for-purpose building,” he added.

“As part of the Giving Back project, Balfour Beatty will give veterans and ex-servicemen and women the chance to work on the extension, be it making cups of coffee or helping with the labour, which is fantastic that we can all get involved.”

The extension will pave the way for the provision of some desperately needed emergency accommodation rooms.

“One of the problems we have, we work closely with the council, to find housing for veterans and homeless ex-servicemen and veterans but there isn’t always the room for them,” Mr Hardy said.

The plans for the extension for the VCP

What new facilities will be provided?

The VCP does use grant funding to help pay for short B&B stays but, under the plans, there will be emergency bedrooms, a new shower room and kitchen, which will be separated from the main building, which will have a new reception area.

“In an ideal world, homeless veterans and ex-servicemen and women would be a priority but we represent a small percentage of the people who are homeless, so this extension will really help us to help them.”

But the new-look centre will have an even far-reaching impact on the wider community: “It will be a brand new building, not just for the armed forces but for the whole community to use,” he said.

“We already have lots of services and organisations use the building but this will enable us to provide even more for the community. It is fantastic.”

In the four years since the doors to the VCP first opened, it has made a huge impact on those who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces, who need help.

“We are getting more and more help for people and we have to applaud the work of the statutory authorities for helping us in the spirit of the armed forces covenant, the new centre will help us to help even more people.”

A large chunk of the £200,000 needed for the extension is being provided but a fundraising campaign is underway to raise £20,000 towards the costs.

Dean Banks , CEO UKCS, Balfour Beatty, said: "The goal is to refurbish the VCP facilities and the project will be run and supported by Balfour Beatty, its employees and supply chain. Through fundraising, employee volunteer days and utilising the skillset of veteran volunteers, Balfour Beatty aim to provide a warm, spacious and economical space for veterans and the local community.

"The project will also raise further awareness for veterans, the VCP and thus encourage support and funds towards the VCP and sourcing local jobs for the veterans."

People can make donations via the online page .

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