Construction Project of the YearBack to Winners
Sponsored by Brachers & West Kent and Ashford College
The Veteran’s Apartments project was created to support ex-servicemen and women who are not a priority for social housing, or are in extreme need due to disability or homelessness.
Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI), the charity behind the initiative, has been providing homes for members of the armed forces community for nearly 100 years.
The £4 million project forms the first phase of the RBLI’s plan to build a Centenary Village near Maidstone, which will create nearly 100 homes for veterans and their families.
Currently, there are 24 apartments situated in Hermitage Lane which have been funded through the initiative. The build was approved by RBLI trustees in 2014, and the two apartment blocks were officially opened in 2017.
Each company involved in the design and construction of the buildings was Kent-based, providing employment opportunities for local people.
A number of apprentices were also involved in the scheme, including ex-serviceman John Ahben, who suffered severe head injury in 2014. John was taken on as a horticultural apprentice thanks to funding from the Chelsea Barracks Foundation, which also sponsors a garden at the site.
He now lives in one of the RBLI apartments, working as a full-time member of the maintenance team. He said: “This course has given me a lifeline and an opportunity to have a second life after my injury.”
RBLI’s policy and advocacy manager, Amy Lennox, said: “This project was created with sustainable social outcomes at its heart. “The apartments are providing veterans with stable accommodation in their time of need, alongside wrap-around welfare support which helps them towards employment and independence.”