Veterans Homeless crisis or media storm?

There is without doubt a homeless crisis in the UK. Over many years it has been attributed to lack of affordable housing, lack of access to social housing and lack of government support.

Throughout the UK homelessness has been approached from different angles, some of which has hit the headlines in various news media including  the following;

At least 13,000 hero soldiers left HOMELESS after leaving the military – and almost all have PTSD

The Mirror/ Sunday People

 

More than 60,000 veterans are homeless, in prison or suffering with mental health

The Daily Post (wales)

 

Do these facts and figures ring true? Simply put no, I am firmly of the opinion that these figures are banded around, to insight political arguments or debates, it is apparent that these can lead to progress however, it also is clear that lots of time is spent talking about it rather than resolving it.

What is worrying is that Veterans are being used as political pawns, there are a huge number of service leavers that leave and contribute to society but also, they provide support for fellow veterans.

Companies like Combat Pest Control Recruit veterans. Why? Because most service personnel can turn their hand to anything and not only that they are reliable they are dependable.  More and more is being done to recognise that veterans have transferable skills.

The Armed Forces covenant is in place, a number of companies have signed up to this covenant and this has encouraged business to openly recruit from the veteran’s community.

This doesn’t solve the homeless crisis, no, but it does show that it is possible to achieve beyond the military.

Having spoken to several homeless individuals across London, I gained the understanding that some of these people are there through choice. Others for circumstances beyond there control. The reasons varied from losing their job to family break up to drink and drugs.

The cross section consisted of eight people three female five males, one stated he was a veteran. This was an unchecked claim. I did not pry I just spoke to them, about the reasons they were homeless. Some of the problems were the lack of social housing, the lack of support. The veteran stated that because of his nomadic lifestyle he didn’t stay in one place for more than a week.

Some other factors included drink and drug abuse meant that they couldn’t get mental health support as they needed to address the abuse first!

Another issue raised was that they wanted to work however as they didn’t have an address they struggled to secure work, they also were not able to draw benefits because of the lack of address.

What did this show, well this showed that there was a significant gap in communication, because if you wish to claim you can use the following as addresses;

  • hostel you’re staying in
  • friend or family member
  • day centre if you’re sleeping on the streets
  • local jobcentre

A number of homeless people across the UK need support, it is now winter, it is wet, the weather forecasters rumour that we will be set for a big freeze.

Homelessness has been around for centuries, this is due to society. It is now more and more prevalent in cities and towns across the UK.

I don’t have a resolution, but I want it to be clear that a larger proportion of veterans leave and succeed, the ones that don’t need that extra support and guidance.  It is time to change in a number of areas, these changes are happening and progressive. Lots of people donate to charities and as not for profit you expect them to spend the money to provide services.

This isn’t always possible, and people regularly take them to task however this is a charity wide issue. As a charity grows it needs to run like a business and needs to employee and pay appropriately to remain effective, and to provide the right support.

There is a crisis it is not just veterans and there are no clear states on the divide that exists but if you need to employee someone employee a veteran. Even if they don’t have the skills you want, they will be dedicated enough to gain them.

Don’t just walk past a homeless person speak to them, you don’t have to give them money, but you can buy them a hot drink or some food. It’s the time of year to be nice to one and other. How do I know this? Because it is a day in the year you don’t have to be kind once.

 

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