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It’s all about that base
Stoll is the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans, helping the most vulnerable Service leavers by providing them with an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives. Former Para Steve Plume tells us how they gave him a firm foundation on which to build his life …
Originally from Germany, Steve Plume joined the Army in 2006 when he was 21. Steve was based in Catterick with the Parachute Regiment. Paratroopers are trained to conduct a range of missions, from prevention and pre-emption tasks, to complex, high-intensity war fighting. In 2008, Steve was medically discharged: ‘I loved my time in the Paras,’ he says, ‘and I didn’t want to leave, but I had no choice.’
Returning to civvy street, Steve went into construction work because he had a qualification from his teenage years. He found out, though, that he needed two major operations on his wrists, which meant he would have to stop working for a time: ‘I fell flat on my face. It completely threw me and I ended up moving into Mike Jackson house [supported housing for single Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and who have support needs]. I had my surgery and then spent six weeks recovering. My case worker at Mike Jackson house referred me to Stoll and I was given a property of my own through their Veterans’ Nomination Scheme.’
Stoll provides safe and secure housing that allows Veterans to live comfortably and independently
The Veterans’ Nomination Scheme (VNS) provides access to housing for ex-Service men and women who are looking to move on from temporary accommodation after a period of homelessness or for those who have found themselves living in unsuitable accommodation. The VNS is run by Stoll in partnership with The Royal British Legion and has housed over 370 Veterans since it started as a pilot in 2009. It covers the whole of England and there are currently more than 90 partner landlords.
Steve met his then wife and went on to have children. Sadly, their relationship broke down and Steve left the property: ‘I wanted my kids to have a roof over their heads and somewhere established to live. After my wife and I made the decision to separate, I stayed in the house for a few days but I didn’t want the situation to become toxic, so I stayed on a friend’s sofa. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I got back in touch with Stoll and, within about three weeks, I had moved in to a Stoll property in London.’
With a stable home, Steve was able to continue his professional development; he took a series of courses in construction to increase his skills and better his career prospects. He now works as a site manager and is currently working on the Battersea Power Station renovation.
Often, his working day lasted from 5 am to 7 pm, and Steve would then drive to see his children in Farnborough at least four or five times a week. Eventually, this caught up with him: ‘I wasn’t coping with the distance from my kids. They are four, three and 18 months old, and I couldn’t handle being so far away from them. The drive really was horrendous and I was exhausted. I was ready to hand in the termination of my tenancy, but Stoll worked with me to find a property closer to Farnborough, which significantly improved my living circumstances.’
Steve is currently primed to move in to one of the new homes in Aldershot that Stoll is building for Veterans. The £10 million development, on schedule to open in spring 2018, will create 34 much-needed homes in Aldershot for those who have served in the Armed Forces and have support needs.
Stoll offers a unique combination of housing, health and well-being support to vulnerable and disabled ex-Service men and women
With his family life looking more balanced, Steve plans to continue his career in construction: ‘I can’t wait to move in – I will be even closer to my children. Stoll has been key in my success and a massive help. I think 100% that there should be more places like Stoll to support Veterans throughout the resettlement process.’
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. To find out more about the VNS, visit www.stoll.org.uk/housing/elsewhere/ and, for details of the new accommodation being built by Stoll, go to www.stoll.org.uk/housing/at-stoll/aldershot/
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