John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, has pledged his support to end the scandal of veterans sleeping rough on our streets and to tackle the wider causes of veteran homelessness.
In his pledge, he noted, “Veterans deserve the very best support to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place and the properly-funded services to get them back on their feet if they do.”
Being able to access appropriate housing for Veterans and their families is a basic right.
This is why we need a significant shift in approach to the issue of housing ex-Servicemen and women.
As previously reported in 24 Housing, we need to ensure the most vulnerable people leaving the Armed Forces receive the support they need to avoid homelessness.
Evidence suggests that as many as three per cent of those accessing homelessness services in England are Veterans which means that each year, well over a thousand ex-Service personnel find themselves homeless and 3 to 4,000 require urgent support to find accommodation.
At Stoll, we support a significant number of Veterans who are unable to find a home due to the lack of available housing or simply because ex-Servicemen and women don’t know where to turn when they leave the Armed Forces.
Working with Riverside, and in collaboration with the Cobseo Housing Cluster, we have launched a Call to Action urging the Government, Local Authorities and other agencies to adopt recommendations to help us reduce Veterans’ homelessness to zero.
- Improving the transition process to try and prevent any Serving personnel becoming homeless after Service by ensuring there is adequate support when people transition from the Forces
- Urging all Local Authorities and other agencies in the ‘civilian’ sphere to establish if a person seeking housing support is a Veteran and then have a clear plan to respond to the Veterans they identify
I am pleased to say that we are making progress on our aim to reduce the incidence of homelessness among Veterans.
Our call to action has already got considerable traction on a political level.
We are working with the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood MP, to ensure some of our initiatives are included in the new Veterans’ Strategy.
We are also working with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to make changes that will help reduce Veterans’ homelessness.
One early success already achieved is that the form which Local Authorities use to record their homelessness statistics now includes Veterans so Local authorities will now have to be proactive in identifying Veterans coming through their doors.
Whilst we are making progress there is much more we can do to ensure that we continue to reduce homelessness amongst the Veterans community and work with the Government, local authorities and umbrella bodies within the Veterans, housing and homelessness spheres to adopt our recommendations.
You can also do your bit by signing up to a pledge to support for our recommendations and help reduce Veterans homelessness:https://www.stoll.org.uk/about/research/.