Our charity partner, Shelter, has been campaigning for everyone to have a safe, secure and affordable home since 1966. And last year, they helped over 5.5 million people find, keep or improve their home.
This year, Shelter signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. The Covenant is the country’s national promise that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly.
Alison Mohammed, Shelter's Director of Services, said: “Every day at Shelter we hear from veterans who are struggling with bad housing and homelessness, as back in the civilian world they don't have the same network of support they had while serving in the forces.
“By signing this Covenant, we’re promising to deliver truly accessible services and to work with members of the Armed Forces to develop and improve the help we provide.”
The British Legion estimate that there are currently about 6,000 homeless veterans in the UK.
Many of these veterans are coping with mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An individual’s mental health can affect their ability to adjust to civilian life, which can be a contributing factor to homelessness.
Ministers disclosed that more than 25,000 veterans received mental health treatment between 2016 and 2017, yet the Mental Health Foundation says only half of those who need it, ask for help.
To help combat these issues the MoD has introduced a 24-hour helpline for veterans who need help with health, housing and money problems. The government has also pledged to spend £1.2billion over the next two years to tackle homelessness, with veterans given high priority access to social housing.
Shelter work to make life better for those affected by homelessness or bad housing – whether through advice and support that their services provide, or through their work to tackle the underlying causes.
Shelter’s website provides over 400 pages of advice, covering a range of housing and homeless issues. These include videos, audio guides and other tools to help give straight-forward support. You can also find the live chat service online, where you can get real-time help from trained advisors.
Those in need can get face-to-face support with a member of Shelter’s staff, who offer one-to-one personalised help about their housing issues. You can find your closest housing adviser through Shelter’s website: https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/local_services
If you want some personalised advice but can’t easily make it to a local service, you can get friendly help by giving them a call. You can find opening hours and the correct number to call through https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/helpline
Shelter also offer legal support too, where solicitors provide advice and attend court to help people who have lost their homes.
In addition to the support they provide, they also work to influence the policies of government and other organisations. Recent success includes the plans to enforce ‘Pay to stay’ being scrapped, meaning 290,000 people in social housing now do not have to worry about unaffordable rent increases.
Shelter urges any individual or member of the Armed Forces Community who need housing support or advice to visit https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help