Stoll is the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans. Most who leave the Armed Forces transition effectively back into civilian life, but not all. Stoll supports the most vulnerable Service leavers – like Martin – by providing them with an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives.
‘I’d always wanted to be a Marine. There was nothing else I wanted to do.’
Martin left school and, in 1987, began training to become a Royal Marine – his lifelong dream. Over the next 13 years, he went on to serve his country in Bosnia, Iraq and the Gulf, and took part in both NATO and UN operations. ‘I had such pride in being a Corporal in the Marines. Having that title was a real badge of honour for me.’
Unfortunately, in 2000, Martin sustained lower-limb injuries as a result of his Service and was medically discharged. ‘The toll of such physical activity built up and I got impact injuries in my ankles, shins and knees. When I moved into civvy street, I thought everyone would want to employ a Marine. But I soon realised that some people have a perception of Veterans that isn’t true: as aggressive, beer-drinking characters.’
Martin forged a way forward and was based in the south-west. He worked building mobile telephone rigs, as a scaffolder, started his own business and even spent some time working back in Iraq. Martin relocated to London in 2007 and worked in the security industry. Sadly, due to the time he spent working away from home, his long-term relationship ended. ‘I really lost everything. My relationship ended, I didn’t have any rights to where I lived any more … I went from thinking everything was OK to being homeless in the blink of an eye.
‘I spent some time renting and moving between B&Bs, friends’ sofas, my car … It was difficult having all my belongings in two holdalls and not knowing where I’d be from one week to the next. It made taking on work hard. It was a precarious time.’
One evening, Martin was with some fellow Veterans, one of whom was a resident at Stoll. ‘My mate was bragging about his flat and how he overlooked Chelsea Football Club. He said I should get in touch and see if there was anything available.’
After Martin contacted Stoll, he moved in to his own home in 2014. ‘I was surprised at how things turned around so quickly and so drastically for me: once I had my own home, a place that I knew I could stay, things began to fall into place. I could walk out of my front door and not take everything with me. I had my own address.’
Martin now works as a freelance security driver with several celebrity clients and is hopeful about the future.
Stoll houses more than 250 vulnerable and disabled Veterans across its four sites in London, as well as 100-plus more every year across the UK through other housing providers. But we’re more than bricks and mortar – we also provide a wide range of support services and make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of ex-Service men and women. We know that a number of Veterans find themselves at risk of homelessness, experience rough sleeping or reside in inadequate accommodation. We’re here to help.
Please contact us to discuss your housing and support options, and to receive more information.
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.uk or call the Outreach Team on 020 7385 2110.