Support where it’s needed
The majority who leave the Armed Forces make a successful transition back into civilian life, but some don’t. Stoll – the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans, with its new Centenary Lodge due to open in June – helps the most vulnerable Service leavers by providing them with an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives. Craig is just one example …
Craig joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in 1987 and served in the Army for 11 years. During that time, he did four tours of Northern Ireland, was deployed in the Gulf War and posted to Cyprus and Germany.
‘I loved my time in the Army,’ says Craig. ‘It felt more like a family than a job. I’m still in touch with a lot of my friends from the Forces. There was a lot of support in the Army, but being away so much put strain on my marriage so, in 1999, I decided it was time to leave and change career.’
After leaving the Forces, Craig began his transition into civilian life. ‘I found it really hard to settle into civvy street. It took me around 18 months before I was in the routine of civilian life. Life seemed very mundane and I found it hard to stay in a job. Life just seemed boring.’
Sadly, Craig’s relationship came to an end and he got divorced. It wasn’t until he was in a new relationship in 2014 that his new partner began to question his behaviour. ‘I had always been a very social person but I began to withdraw. I would get up, go to work, come home and sit in a room on my own.
‘I just thought it was me plodding through life, but I had a bit of a breakdown really. My relationship ended and it left me homeless. I went into survival mode. I was living in a tent in the woods.
‘During that time, I bumped into an old Army friend and we were catching up. I really didn’t see anything wrong with my situation – I thought it was completely normal and I was fine. But, speaking to him, he made me realise I might need some help.
‘He passed on a number that I could call for advice on housing. I couldn’t have slumped any lower. I kept the number in my pocket for a good few weeks before I made the call. It was to an agency called SPACES.’
Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex Services (SPACES) provides an accommodation placement service for single personnel being discharged from all three military services. It was able to connect Craig to Mike Jackson House in Aldershot and linked him into mental health services in the Aldershot area.
‘It was really from 2014–17 that I turned my life around. I had a new property in Mike Jackson House and things began to change for me. I’m ready for the next step and to move into my own flat at Stoll’s Centenary Lodge. When I saw the property, I thought it was absolutely stunning. Without these services, I couldn’t tell you where I’d be today. I’m ready to grab this opportunity with both hands and I’m ready for the future.’
On 14 June, Centenary Lodge will be declared officially open – ready for disabled and vulnerable Veterans to move into 34 brand-new purpose-built homes in Evelyn Avenue.Says Stoll CEO Ed Tytherleigh, ‘We are proud to be naming the new building Centenary Lodge as a mark of remembrance for the millions of lives lost in the First World War, which ended 100 years ago. Our brand-new development will enable people who have served in the Armed Forces to rent an affordable place to live, giving them the stability to transition into civilian life effectively. We will provide tailored support to meet residents’ individual needs, to ensure they can lead fulfilling and independent lives.’
Centenary Lodge consists of 34 units, including 27 one-bedroom flats, accessible flats for those with disabilities, and family accommodation. The development includes a number of communal spaces for training, therapy and community activities, as well as gardens surrounding the building.
Centenary Lodge is a significant milestone for Stoll as it is the charity’s first housing development outside London. Stoll already provides accommodation in west London, and works with housing associations and local authorities to provide accommodation for Veterans across the UK, through the Veterans’ Nomination Scheme: www.stoll.org.uk/housing/vns/
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.
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