Help make our voice collectively stronger as we continue to tackle Veterans’ homelessness
In the United Kingdom we are facing a crisis and the significant risk of collapse of specialist housing for homeless veterans across Britain.
Up to now we have achieved significant success in reducing veterans’ homelessness.
Latest estimates indicate that between 100 and 400 veterans sleep rough ever year and a further 3,000 to 4,000 face homelessness in cars, or derelict buildings – something no veteran or civilian should experience.
We now face a major threat to this provision which will jeopardise the excellent work we do.
Over the past few years we have lost nearly all government funding for these crucial support costs.
As a result of this we are becoming significantly less able to house veterans with higher needs, addictions, poor mental health, or disability.
If this continues, we are very concerned about our ability to resource veterans’ services safely, and the significant risk of collapse of the majority of supported housing services for veterans.
As the Armed Forces Bill recognises, we owe a debt of gratitude to members of the armed forces to ensure they suffer no disadvantage as a result of their service. It has already been recognised that, in some circumstances, special treatment for veterans may be appropriate to overcome barriers to engagement.
Armed forces veterans suffering a mental health crisis now receive specialist care as part of a new Op Courage service launched by NHS.
Speaking at the annual Kings’ Centre for Military Health Research Veterans’ mental health conference at King’s College London, then NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens stated:
“Anyone can be affected by mental ill health but armed forces veterans may have seen and experienced things that few others – thankfully – will. That can create a special set of challenges which working with military charities helps to overcome and that it what is at the heart of Op Courage – ensuring that the NHS is a National Hero Service.”
The threat identified to supported housing is real, and we raise it now with a clear and achievable response in mind. It would cost just £2,781,985 per year to provide specialist supported housing to every veterans in the UK which needs it.
We are asking Government for funding for at least two years until the end of this parliament, which is £5,563,970, with a view of agreeing the mechanism for long-term sustainable funding to ensure these much-needed services continue.
We want to prevent the collapse of these important services and are calling for government to safeguard these much-needed specialist supported housing services for British veterans as part of a down payment on the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.