Social enterprise providing skilled work opportunities to Veterans receives £150K investment from Northstar Ventures

Social enterprise providing skilled work opportunities to Veterans receives £150K investment from Northstar Ventures

Hekla Goodman

Nov 14 2023

Northstar Ventures, through the North East Social Investment Fund, has invested £150,000 into the growth of Veteran Skills Academy, alongside a grant of £37,500 from County Durham Community Foundation, to begin its first trainee cohort.

Veteran Skills Academy aims to create employment opportunities for those leaving the military and support them into long-term jobs in the North East. With evidence from the Royal British Legion stating that Veterans in the UK are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as their civilian counterparts, Naomi Allen Seales, Investment Manager at Northstar Ventures says the team are “extremely proud to support an organisation tackling unemployment head on.”

The County Durham-based Veteran Skills Academy aims to offer pathways into sectors such as the nuclear, oil, gas, renewable energy industries and other related engineering disciplines. The Veteran Skills Academy team will begin working closely with veterans with an aptitude for welding, fabrication and related skills, and support them on a pathway towards securing permanent work with its partnered organisations. Along with training and job placement support, Veteran Skills Academy is committed to tending to the support needed for beneficiaries’ health and wellbeing. 

The funding from Northstar Ventures will allow Veteran Skills Academy to run its first cohort of trainees and supply candidates for jobs at partnered organisations after the initial training programme. 

Naomi Allen Seales, Investment Manager at Northstar Ventures, said: ‘The North East Social Investment Fund backs teams who are making a difference to the lives of communities and individuals in our region. We have been impressed with the drive and vision of the Veteran Skills Academy team from our first meeting and were immediately excited by the opportunity to help them scale their social impact and deliver their programmes to more military leavers. Having this investment in place will allow them to launch their first programmes, secure their future and help them on the road to sustainability. We are also delighted to be working with the County Durham Community Foundation and have secured grant funding alongside the loan from NESIF to help Veteran Skills Academy purchase further equipment for their workshop.’

Philip Reynolds, Strategy Director of Veteran Skills Academy, said: “It has been a long two years setting up this exciting new social enterprise. We have so many partners and sponsors to thank for helping us get this far but the final element in the equation was the support and financial backing received from Northstar Ventures. Working with Northstar simplified what could have been a challenging process to secure the funding. Northstar helped us refine of our business planning, creating an even stronger and more robust company to deliver quality training to our Veterans community.

We are delighted that thanks to the investment from Northstar, we are ready to offer a high quality training service to veterans allowing them to enter the world of welding, fabrication and domestic engineering with a series of industry recognised

qualifications. With the support of local and national employers we will link our trainees directly into real opportunities in well paid jobs.”

Michelle Cooper, Chief Executive of grant-making organisation County Durham Community Foundation who contributed £37,500 toward the initiative, said: “At the Foundation, we talk a lot about the ABCD of jobs. A job becomes a Better job, becomes a Career, and hopefully, one-day becomes a Dream job. If we want sustainable and resilient communities tomorrow, we need to make sure we are creating jobs across this spectrum today.

With this funding, Veteran Skills Academy are doing just that, enabling military leavers to transfer their existing skills and experience into new jobs. For some this may be setting them on a path to a brand-new career that wasn’t previously available to them, giving our ex-servicemen and women financial security, confidence and a new purpose.”


Editor’s notes: 

For more information contact: [email protected] 

About Northstar Ventures 

Northstar Ventures is a North East venture capital company investing in successful high growth SMEs and social sector organisations across the North East.  The North East Social Investment Fund is one of the Funds we manage. 

The North East Social Investment Fund invests in social enterprises with individual investments ranging in size from £100k to £1m.  The Fund is targeted at organisations which exist primarily to deliver social impact and which reinvest the majority of their surpluses to further their social mission; including charities (limited by guarantee or CIO only), CICs (limited by guarantee or shares) and Registered Societies (previously known as ‘Industrial and Provident Societies’, for community benefit).  NESIF is backed by Big Society Capital, the Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The Northstar Foundation. 

Northstar Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Northstar Ventures Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales with company number 05104995. Registered office: 5th Floor, Maybrook House, 27-35 Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5JE. 

Further information can be found at 

About County Durham Community Foundation

Founded in 1995, County Durham Community Foundation works to fight poverty and enrich lives in County Durham. By connecting people and businesses who want to make a difference with community groups and voluntary organisations looking for support. In its 28-year history it has raised and then granted funds of over £65million.

About the Community Foundation 

The Community Foundation grows giving and philanthropy, enabling people and businesses to support vital causes across North East England. Every year, it awards millions of pounds in grants to hundreds of local charities and community organisations through funds set up donors. The Newcastle-based charity, the UK’s biggest community foundation, has built an endowment of nearly £90 million as a community asset to support people and places in its area in perpetuity.  

For the North East Social Investment Fund, the Community Foundation took over assets and responsibilities transferred by the former Northern Rock Foundation, which had set up the initiative with Big Society Capital and others. 

About North East Social Investment Company (NESIC) 

North East Social Investment Company and its first social investment fund, NESIF have been set up to provide an innovative, regional, strategic solution to developing the market for social investment in the North East and to reducing disadvantage, deprivation and social need in North East communities. The Board of NESIC will provide leadership regionally and nationally for the development of social investment. 

About Big Society Capital (BSC) 

Big Society Capital is the UK’s leading social impact investor. Our mission is to grow the amount of money invested in tackling social issues and inequalities in the UK. We do this by investing our own capital and helping others invest for impact too. 

Since 2012, we have helped build a market that has directed more than £9 billion into social purpose organisations tackling issues from homelessness and mental health to childhood obesity and fuel poverty, a ten-fold increase in ten years. 

Further information can be found at  

About Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) 

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. It does this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.   

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK.  It makes grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. It also operates a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit. Further information can be found at 

About Joseph Rowntree Foundation  

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice. For more information visit     

About Northstar Foundation  

The Northstar Foundation is a registered charity (registration number 1158262) with wide charitable goals with a particular focus on supporting entrepreneurship and social enterprises that benefit excluded and deprived communities in the North East of England. Northstar Ventures Limited is committed to supporting our community and The Northstar Foundation has been set up to do this. 

For more information contact: [email protected]  


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