Riverside welcome new Government commitment to end veteran rough sleeping

A new Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan has been launched by Government which makes more than 60 pledges to former service personnel including making a commitment to end veteran rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.

Nationally estimates indicate that between 100 and 400 veterans sleep rough ever year and a further 3,000 to 4,000 face homelessness in temporary accommodation, sofa surfing, or living in cars and derelict buildings.

Across the UK, Riverside, Launchpad, Alabaré, and Stoll provide 558 flats or bed spaces across 19 locations for veterans experiencing homelessness.

However, veterans have faced losing these vital support services as funding is withdrawn.

As part of the new Veterans’ action plan the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has also committed to look at the supply of supported housing by the end of 2022, including meeting the needs of the veteran community.

In 2019 the Government created The Office for Veterans Affairs with a mission “to make sure the United Kingdom is the best place to be a veteran anywhere in the world.”

Lee Buss-Blair, Director of Operations and Group Veteran’s Lead at Riverside, spent six years in the 17th/21st Lancers where he saw active service in the first Gulf War, before going on to see active service in the conflict in Bosnia.

Lee is leading a campaign on behalf Riverside, Launchpad, Alabaré, and Stoll calling on Government to provide more financial support to prevent the collapse of supported housing services for veterans experiencing homelessness, and the subsequent rise in veteran rough sleeping that could occur as a result.

Polling conducted by Survation shows that more than three-quarters of voters (76%) believe the Government has a duty to end veteran’s homelessness – 78% among Conversative voters 76% Labour, 86% Lib Dem.

Lee said: “We are extremely encouraged and excited to see this new Government commitment to understanding veteran supported housing, and end veteran rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.

“The polling proves that the public feels as passionately about this issue as we do. We want the government to know that we are 100% behind the commitment to end veterans’ sleeping rough. Fulfilling this commitment is essential if the Government is to meet its ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.

“We want to reaffirm our commitment to work with the government on furthering their understanding of the supply of veteran supported housing and to identify any needs gap that may exist.”

Last year Riverside and the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy, launched a new research study with the aim of creating a roadmap to end homelessness for British military veterans after receiving £219,240 of funding from the Forces in Mind Trust

Veterans often leave the Armed Forces with no adult experience of finding housing.

Helping veterans into long-term sustainable housing continues to be identified as one of the most important aspects of transition into civilian life and is a key factor in the Government’s Strategy for Veterans.

The Forces in Mind Trust estimates that the cost of Britain’s veterans failing to transition into civilian housing is around £25m every year to HM Treasury.

The research will include interviews with more than 100 British veterans to compare the lived experience of transition into civilian life from a range of Armed Forces backgrounds, evaluating the experience of both men and women, people from different ethnic backgrounds and the experience of single people and families.