World Homelessness Day: housing and helping Veterans

World Homelessness Day: housing and helping Veterans

Back in April the Homelessness Reduction Bill formally became an Act of Parliament, placing a new duty on local authorities to help prevent homelessness. The need for action is clear: the 2017 Homeless Monitor in England, published in March, showed that local authority homelessness 'case actions' have gone up by a staggering 32% in a five-year period.

Changes to both social housing funding and the welfare system mean that homelessness is on the increase across the board. Among the Veterans we hear from on a daily basis are not just those living on the streets, but people who have ended up living in tents or caravans, even in their cars. The number of people living in inappropriate housing or 'sofa surfing' is also definitely on the up.

Brian went from the RAF to a new life as a croupier, forging a successful second career that spanned 25 years. However, following a redundancy, his life took a turn for the worse. He was evicted from his home with nowhere to go:

"For the next three years I was homeless whether that meant sleeping on a friend's sofa or having to face the streets. For a while I was at a shelter which was just awful, I was in a temporary room with no windows and a tiny skylight. I just had no idea what to do."

With no dependents Brian found himself at the bottom of the priority list to be found Local Authority accommodation. A chance TV sighting eventually brought him in contact with Stoll, who were able to re-house him.

After a year of settling in at Stoll, Brian applied to train as a flight attendant. He's now got a successful job in the skies. "Suddenly I'm flying all over the world, I've got a purpose and a wonderful flat to come back to. It's amazing."

Veteran Norman who served with the Royal Signals during his army career was re-housed by Stoll a few years ago after becoming isolated in his top floor council flat with worsening arthritis.

"There were 30 stairs up and 30 stairs down, and I would take something like six to eight painkillers so I could go out and do some shopping." Now comfortable in a Stoll property, Norman explains: "Everything is accessible for me so I can get out and about. I can go out and get my own food, I won't say I cook it but at least I can go out and get it!"

Ian enjoyed the structure that army life provided and struggled to adapt to life outside of the military. He had several jobs but, suffering from undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, things started to go downhill.

"The memories and flashbacks kept coming. My behaviour became erratic. Keeping work going was a struggle. I fell out with my wife. And then everything collapsed. I was homeless camping down in the bin areas of blocks of flats. Getting by on people's leftovers. Hanging round market stalls for the throwaways at the end of the day."

With a new home from Stoll, Ian gradually starting rebuilding his life and now runs the Veterans' Kitchen with another Veteran just outside Stoll Mansions next door to Chelsea Football Club.

"Having a stable home and being able to run our little café for Veterans and the local community has helped me get back on track," says Ian.


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