WHEN someone has served their country in the Armed Forces, the least we can do is support them when they make the move back to civilian life. Yet every year thousands of veterans end up sleeping rough, sofa surfing or living in unsuitable hostels because they’re unable to access housing and slip through the net. Those that have served their country, often through the most trying of times, deserve better.
The Armed Forces Covenant states that anyone who has served in the Forces should face no disadvantage, and this includes accessing social housing. Veterans, who are especially vulnerable to homelessness, should be prioritised for support.
We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of homeless veterans seeking help since the pandemic. With the rising cost of living crisis, we know the situation is going to get worse.
Too often former members of the Armed Forces miss out on housing support because they aren’t identified as a veteran. As leading voices in the veterans housing sector, we’ve joined the No Homeless Veterans [www.nohomelessveterans.org.uk] campaign to urge local authorities to do more.
It’s vital that when someone needs help with housing, they are asked whether they’ve served in the Forces. If they have, this should be recorded. Once identified, they can be directed towards support that’s available.
Many, particularly in Scotland, already do, but all local authorities across the UK should be identifying veterans quickly. There is no need for them to be sofa surfing, bouncing from hostel to hostel, or sleeping on the streets. Our heroes deserve better and it’s inexcusable to leave them out in the cold.
Richard Gammage, CEO, Stoll
Andrew Lord MBE, CEO, Alabaré
Bernard Stonestreet, Executive Secretary/Founder, East Sussex Veterans Hub
Tim Stockings, CEO, Haig Housing
Sheena MacKay, Case Manager, Help for Heroes
Steve Bentham-Bates, CEO, Help 4 Homeless Veterans
Moira Bayne, CEO, Housing Options Scotland
Colonel (Ret’d) Tony Gauvain, Chair/CEO, PTSD Resolution
Emrys Rogers, Head of Housing & Assurance, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
Mark Shields, Head of Community Support, Royal Air Forces Association
Brigadier (Ret’d) Martin Nadin OBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Veterans Residences