A change for the better
Most people who leave the Armed Forces transition effectively back into civilian life, but not everyone does. Stoll – the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans – helps the most vulnerable Service leavers by providing them with an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives.
Alan Parmenter grew up in a military household and aspired to join the Armed Forces after seeing his father work in what was then the Special Boat Squadron. ‘I used to march to school! I thought it looked like an exciting way of life and it’s what I wanted to do.’ In 1971, at 15 years old, Alan joined the 3rd Battalion Royal Green Jackets and, during his career, went on tour to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Rwanda and Germany.
‘After leaving regular service in 1998, I went on to be an Army Cadet Force instructor in Wandsworth. I did that for nine years and worked in security, too. I was proud to train the first ever female cadet Sergeant Major. I really enjoyed staying connected to the military as it had been a part of my life for so long.’
Unfortunately, Alan’s relationship began to struggle and eventually broke down, leaving him with nowhere to live. ‘I was homeless for 18 months in total and for a few months I lived out under Putney Bridge. I was working at the same time. I used to cycle in to work and, when I stopped cycling in, the guys at work noticed. They asked why I didn’t have my bike any more. Well, it was a lot more than just my bike …
‘I would work all the night shifts I could and stayed in temporary accommodation here and there. My boss couldn’t understand how I would always come into work so early, and eventually rumbled that I was homeless. Things came to a real low when I tried to take my own life in the Thames. I was so wound up in my thoughts.’
Alan worked in the Fulham area and a colleague told him about the support and housing that Stoll offers to Veterans. ‘We are a stubborn breed, us soldiers. After living a life in the military and being told what to do, the trouble came when I had to make my own decisions.’ After getting in touch with Stoll, Alan moved into his own flat in 2010.
‘I am so grateful to Stoll. It’s a total life changer. I now have my own home and I feel secure. I was able to get support to furnish my flat, and my work colleagues clubbed together to buy me a television, too. I volunteer with Stoll and run a lot of the health and well-being activities for residents, including darts, archery and curling. I’ve also reconciled my relationship with my partner and, three years ago, we got back together.
‘I’d say to any Veteran who experiences homelessness that there are lots of services available that can help – there is a way to move forward.’
Find out more
Stoll has been providing support to the Veteran community for more than 100 years and is here to support the next generation of Veterans. For more information about finding a home with Stoll or accessing support, please visit www.stoll.org.ukor call the Outreach Team on 020 7385 2110.
446 Fulham Road
London SW6 1DT
Tel: 020 7385 2110
Stoll’s drop-in runs every second Wednesday of the monthat its Fulham site (see above), in the Community Hall