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Housing help for the ex-Service community

Housing help for the ex-Service community

COVER STORY

11 May, 2018

Veterans’ Gateway has partnered with Shelter, the UK’s leading housing and homelessness charity, to raise awareness of some of the key issues faced by the Armed Forces community and how they can access the right information and help with their housing concerns

A service launched last year, Veterans’ Gateway provides a first point of contact for Veterans who need support, connecting them with the right organisation that can help them with a range of issues, including housing, finance, mental health and employment.

Since Veterans’ Gateway began, housing advice has been the second most common subject that Veterans and their families have been seeking help and guidance about. Jackie Steven is a specialist housing advisor at the service, on hand to offer one-to-one support to Veterans and their families. She encourages anyone who is confused, worried or threatened by housing problems to seek help early.

‘I know that housing issues can be really confusing and the amount of information available can be overwhelming,’ she says. ‘In my role, I can listen to individual circumstances and give advice on the best options available. In my experience, the earlier you seek help and advice, the easier it will be to address your housing needs.’

Working at the contact centre in Cardiff, Jackie is one of a team of advisors who can offer housing advice to those needing help and support. She continues, ‘I have been helping serving and ex-serving personnel and their families with housing issues for a number of years now, and as the spouse of an Army Veteran myself, I understand how challenging these issues can be.’

More than six housing partners can be accessed via Veterans’ Gateway, including Alabaré, Haig Housing and Stoll – the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans (see our feature on page xxx).

Army Veteran Josh spent six years serving with the Royal Engineers. He joined in 2011 at the age of 20, and spent time on tour in Canada, Germany, Cyprus and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, Josh was medically discharged in August 2017. After a potential flatmate let him down, Josh ended up living in a caravan. He heard about Stoll at his Personal Recovery Unit and was recommended to apply to Stoll’s Veterans’ Nomination Scheme (VNS).

‘Within six weeks of first applying to the VNS, I had the keys to my flat. I wanted a property in London because the job prospects are better here, and I even have a garden for my rescue dog Mowgli. Stoll sorted me out in six weeks when I was in dire straits – I couldn’t recommend them enough. I’m looking ahead to the future and I’m excited to see what it holds.’

Veterans’ Gateway is available whether there is a simple question you need answering or you have a case that may need specialist care. Contact the service and our experts will do the rest. Working with Shelter as our expert housing advice partner, our #HelpWithHousing campaign includes a range of handy top tips, useful videos, new housing law updates that will benefit Veterans, FAQs, and factual advice and information.

You can speak to one of our team by phone or via email. Our number is free to call in the UK; from overseas you will be charged at a local call rate or you can select the Live Chat option to avoid any costs. Additionally, you can send direct messages on Twitter or Facebook.

Our team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including all bank holidays, to put you in touch with the right help you need quickly, or direct you to the information you are looking for.

The earlier you seek help and advice, the easier it will be to address your housing needs

Case studies

John

After serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, John moved to America, where he was an investor in a successful company. He always invested his annual bonus back in to the business. However, there was a tragic turn of events, as the CEO of the company, and John’s good friend, died.

Following the death of the CEO, the board of directors assumed control of the business and things took a dramatic turn for the worse. The financial situation quickly deteriorated until the debts began to mount and the company was ultimately forced to fold.

John soon found himself unable to pay his rent. As the effects began to cause strains on the relationship between John and his wife, it led them to separate, with John deciding to move back to the UK.

As John received only a modest income from his salary, he found it difficult to secure any affordable housing and found himself living in a caravan. This was never likely to be a long-term solution given that it was cold, damp and infested with rats. John’s outlook seemed bleak, but it was just as he was reaching his lowest ebb that an outreach worker referred him to Alabaré.

When he received the news that Alabaré would be able to provide him with accommodation, John cried tears of delight. He now has somewhere warm and safe to live and can begin to get back on his feet. He has since undertaken courses to improve his IT skills and would also like to do a course related to photography. His long-term ambitions are to get back in to full-time work. However, in the meantime, he is keeping busy with a number of courses aimed at making him more employable.

Michael

Michael served in the Army for five years. In addition to financial problems, his relationship deteriorated to such an extent that it became an untenable situation, with Michael also suffering from domestic abuse.

It soon became evident that he would have to leave the family home but, on doing so, Michael found the lack of affordable accommodation a real problem. With joint debts in his name and also attempting to maintain joint mortgage payments, Michael’s financial situation made it very difficult for him to find accommodation.

To compound the issue, his debilitating back problem was getting worse and eventually became so bad that he was forced to go on sick leave from his job at a local college. Being entitled to only statutory sick pay and having no savings, Michael was left with no other option but to seek immediate help with housing.

After becoming aware of the work of Alabaré through a Veterans’ outreach service, Michael submitted an application for accommodation and came to live at one of Alabaré’s dedicated Homes for Veterans.

In his time living with Alabaré, Michael has been able to access the help and support he needs in order to address his financial issues. He is currently receiving advice on his finances and is also waiting to see if he can return to work. He is motivated to turn things around and is taking positive steps towards achieving his aims.

KEY CONTACT

To contact Veterans’ Gateway …

Call: 0808 802 1212

Visit: www.veteransgateway.org.uk

Text: 81212

HOUSING PARTNERS AVAILABLE VIA VETERANS’ GATEWAY

  • Stoll is the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans. Its work enables vulnerable and disabled Veterans in need of support to live fulfilling, independent lives: www.stoll.org.uk
  • Alabaré is a charity that supports vulnerable, homeless and marginalised people. It helps them transform their lives, providing accommodation, and helping them gain the skills, confidence and opportunities to live a fulfilled life: www.alabare.co.uk
  • Haig Housing Trust is the UK’s largest charity providing housing to Veterans in need: www.haighousing.org.uk
  • Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line (SAIL) provides free and confidential advice to Royal Navy and Royal Marines Veterans, their families and carers: http://sailine.org.uk
  • The Royal British Legion provides life-long support to members and Veterans of the British Armed Forces and their families: www.britishlegion.org.uk
  • The Scottish Veterans’ Garden City Association (SVGCA) houses disabled Veterans in Scotland: www.svgca.org.uk
  • Scottish Veterans Residences is a charity established in 1910 to provide accommodation and help for homeless Veterans: www.svronline.org
  • Erskine helps honour those who didn’t come home by helping to care for those who did. Proud to have served the ex-Service community since 1916, the charity has now cared for more than 85,000 veterans: www.erskine.org.uk

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