Sunday, 26 April 2009

Veterans Aid - still needed in 2009

The charity Veterans Aid has been helping, supporting and caring for Britain's homeless ex-servicemen and women since 1932; born out of one recession, 77 years on it's now having to deal with the effects of another.

Veterans Aid still receives over 1,400 calls for help every year.

There are still over 1,000 homeless veterans on the streets of London alone.

Although a 2008 study commissioned by the Ex-Service Action Group on Homelessness found that ex-Forces make up a smaller proportion of London's homeless than they did a decade ago, in April last year the BBC documentary, Ex-forces and Homeless, reported that there were at least 1,000 homeless veterans on the streets of London!

How have the MoD and the Government been facing up to their responsibilities?

The MoD has introduced the Career Transition Partnership to help eligible personnel leaving the Armed Forces to make a successful transition to civilian employment in a suitable second career. But homelessness, often the result of PTSD, tends to start several years after leaving the Services.

Last week the MoD reported ( Supporting homeless ex-servicemen) on the new Mike Jackson House in Aldershot which was opened last July on a site gifted by the MoD and which provides temporary accommodation and help for homeless veterans - but for just 40 in the last 10 months.

More significantly, back in January 2009, Minister for Veterans, Kevan Jones pledged to help get 5,000 homeless vets of Britain's streets (The Mirror: Victory for the Sunday Mirror in fight for homeless veterans). Lets hope that this is a real pledge and not just a Labour pledge.

Not much seems to have changed over the last 12 months and Veterans Aid is as much needed today as it was 77 years ago. Today's Times has an article on the work of Veterans Aid and how it has helped turn around the life of one homeless veteran.

The Times: Veterans Aid: still helping homeless ex-servicemen
Veterans Aid
MoD: Defence for the service community - homelessness
Spaces: Mike Jackson House
Ex-Service Action Group on Homelessness
Royal British Legion: The number of homeless veterans dropping, but more needs to be done