A new vision for vulnerable Veterans
Field Marshal the Lord Walker of Aldringham, Head of the British Armed Forces from 2003–2006, highlights one charity’s vision to help reduce homelessness among the UK’s most vulnerable Veterans
In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the duty of care the UK owes both to those currently serving in the Armed Forces and our Veterans. Reading through a copy of the latest Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report, I was struck by the dedication shown by those who help to ensure that the Covenant not only honours the sacrifices the Armed Forces Community make to keep us safe, but how this translates into tangible day-to-day support for those most in need.
While the vast majority of individuals leaving the Armed Forces make the transition from Service to civilian life without significant difficulties, there are some who face problems in the short or longer term, including homelessness, and need additional support.
Transition is the time when housing becomes critical; having a home at this time of change provides much-needed stability for ex-Service men and women, and their families. This is particularly true of younger Service personnel or Early Service Leavers – for example, those who may be discharged due to injury or ill health, who often have no plan of where to go once they leave the Services. For Veterans living with other issues, such as lack of employment or mental health problems, without support there is a very real danger of ‘falling through the cracks’.
There is a growing body of evidence that backs up the need to do more to identify and support this vulnerable group of people leaving the Armed Forces. Stoll, the leading provider of social housing and other support for vulnerable Veterans and their families, continues to speak up on behalf of those most in need. Last April, independent researchers evaluated Stoll’s Transition Outreach Service* – a partnership with transition experts Forces in Mind Trust – and concluded that finding appropriate accommodation as part of a wider package of tailored support was highly effective in helping those most in need through the tricky transition stage.
Stoll is also keen to act on the findings of research it commissioned with the University of York, which considered the accommodation and housing-related support needs of single Veterans in Great Britain. The research highlighted the areas of the country with the greatest shortfall of affordable homes to rent for Veterans and, as a result, Stoll is close to completing a new build of 34 homes for Veterans and their families in Aldershot, the area identified as having the greatest housing shortfall.
Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report
Yet there is much more to be done to support those leaving the Armed Forces. There is an urgent need for more social housing and tailored support for this special cohort of people who have been prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice for their country over many years.
It is to address the shortfall in housing and to ensure more Veterans can access vital support services that has led Stoll to announce a highly significant proposal, one that would have a transformative effect on Veterans’ housing in this country …
Stoll is now consulting with tenants to redevelop its Fulham estate with brand new, state-of-the-art homes, and to release part of the site to Chelsea Football Club. These proposed new homes would be the envy of the Veterans’ sector, complete with a roof garden and new communal facilities, such as therapy rooms and a fitness suite. Much of the existing estate is now more than 100 years old and no longer provides the high-quality accommodation Stoll offers at its other sites. All tenants would also be offered a compensation payment for the disruption that could be caused by the redevelopment. Quite right too!
But there’s a much bigger prize that many people in the Armed Forces and the Veterans’ community will want to support …
If the proposal goes ahead, Stoll will invest millions to help more and more vulnerable Veterans get a home and get back on their feet. The proposal would enable Stoll not only to redevelop its Fulham estate, but also to provide at least 300 additional new homes to vulnerable Veterans and extend its vital support services to thousands more Veterans.
An additional 300 homes for Veterans will make a significant difference to the Veterans’ community. Stoll will provide these homes in different parts of the country, wherever the need is greatest, so that fewer Veterans end up sofa surfing, living in inappropriate accommodation or on the streets. Stoll already provides a fabulous bespoke Outreach Service to support those most likely to struggle when they leave the Armed Forces. The outreach team works with people on a one-to-one basis finding the appropriate health support, making sure people have money to live on and have appropriate housing. Stoll currently provides this great service only in the London area, yet the need is right across the country. With the money Stoll will generate from the sale of part of its Fulham site, this service can be extended to other areas so that people can get the right support when they leave the Armed Forces.
Last year Stoll reaffirmed its own commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant and to supporting those who have served the nation. This proposal sends a very clear signal that Stoll would like to make a lasting impact in this area. By extending its life-changing services and providing more housing so that people have a place they can call home when they leave the Armed Forces, Stoll would be helping thousands of men and women avoid homelessness and get back on their feet ready for civilian life.
Stoll is the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans. Most people who leave the Armed Forces transition effectively back into civilian life. But not everyone does. Stoll supports the most vulnerable Service Leavers by providing people with an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives. The charity, Walking With The Wounded, provides Stoll with an Employment Advisor to support Veterans to get a job or training.
Find out more
Stoll’s outreach team provides advice and support to Service leavers and Veterans on a wide range of issues, from housing to work and benefits to access to expert healthcare: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7385 2110
Stoll’s drop-in runs every second Wednesday of the month at its Fulham site (see above), in the Community Hall