Posted on 23 January 2024
Produced by researchers at the University of York, The Roadmap to End Homelessness Amongst Veterans, identifies an increased risk of homelessness for some veterans due to the cost-of-living crisis and housing shortages which are causing rents to rocket.
The report provides a blueprint to ensure current and future generations of veterans have the skills and support to avoid homelessness and establish a long-term sustainable home.The research highlights that some veterans, particularly those who join and leave the Service at a young age, are not well enough prepared to find and maintain a home after their time in the Armed Forces.
The government created a dedicated referral pathway to support veterans experiencing homelessness in 2023, but this report, which has been funded by the Forces in Mind Trust and supported by the Charity Riverside Group and the Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo), says that large-scale reforms are needed to tackle the issue and help ex-Service personnel avoid reaching a point of crisis in the first place.
Lead author of the report, Dr Lisa O’Malley from the School for Business and Society at the University of York, said: “The backdrop to this research is a very stretched housing market across the UK, which increases the risk of housing exclusion and homelessness for all members of society.
“However, from our first-hand conversations with veterans, as well as data analysis, we discovered that the gap between military and civilian life is getting wider - the impact of a widening inequality in society generally; increasing employment insecurity; the cost-of-living crisis; the housing crisis and a lack of preparedness among some Service leavers makes leaving the Service increasingly uncertain for more and more veterans.”
The report is based on first hand interviews with a range of Service personnel, veterans, and other military stakeholders.
It sets out how the Ministry of Defence, the Office for Veterans Affairs, local authorities, and housing providers can work together to prevent veteran homelessness and provide support in life after Service.
The majority of recommendations focus on identifying and eliminating potential causes of veteran homelessness, including:
The research identified that Service leavers who are discharged quickly on medical or disciplinary grounds, or the failure to complete training are at particular risk of homelessness.
Researchers highlighted that some of these leavers had to find housing at short notice, sometimes the same day as being discharged from the Armed Forces.
Data on Service leavers published in September 2022 shows more than half of those leaving the Armed Forces were under 30 years of age (52.6%). The research highlights that younger Service leavers have had less time to financially plan, often have fewer skills than older personnel, and are more likely to have been discharged at pace.
Paul Chadwick, a veteran with lived experience of homelessness, said: “When I became homeless at 60 and moved into supported housing I met a few younger lads and realised that not much had changed from 30 years ago. They still didn’t know much about civilian life and there isn’t enough in place to prepare you for life after your military career.
“The research that has been done shows that there is a greater need for support, specifically knowing how to apply for jobs, how to write a CV, how to apply for housing, and what third sector support is available.”
Michelle Alston, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Supporting former Service personnel and their families into a successful transition to civilian life is key and we recognised the importance of secure housing in achieving this. We were therefore keen to partner on this research with the University of York and Riverside Housing Group to identify a preventative approach to addressing these challenges
“It is therefore key that this report considers all of the touchpoints in the life of Service personnel and Service leavers to help them avoid homelessness. The report highlights that some veterans, particularly those who join and leave the Service at a young age, are not sufficiently prepared during their time in the Armed Forces to find and maintain a home after their time in the armed forces. By implementing this roadmap, we can help support veterans and their families to secure their housing and experience fulfilling civilian lives.”
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