Homelessness amongst veterans is a very common issue. This is for a number of reasons, such as institutionalisation, pride, and not knowing what services are available.

“Many veterans are people who have been institutionalised for quite some time. And when they come to leave, they often find that the adjustment back into civilian life is a struggle,” explains Andrew Smith, CEO and Founder of Hull Homeless Community Project and former member of the Royal Navy.

People typically join the forces before the age of 20, with the entry requirements for the army allowing those aged between 16 and 33 to sign up. This results in many of them not having the experience of living alone when they come to leave the forces.

The adjustment is quite difficult: “From personal experience, I know that the change from a life with a lot of structure and responsibility to a life on 'Civilian Street' can be tough,” Andrew admits.

Being a member of the forces can take its toll on a person’s mental well being, and many veterans return home with mental health issues such as PTSD. Meanwhile, there is also the chance of incurring a physical disability after serving.

“If the support is not there from the day they leave, they can struggle to adjust back to living a normal life,” Andrew continues. “I served eight years and my family was just starting when I left, so coming home was a real change for me.

For months and months after he left, Andrew would still reach in his back pocket for his beret when he went out of the house: “You’re mentally institutionalised and things are so ingrained into your everyday behavior. Even the simplest things are hard to adjust to.”

One of our charitable aims at HHCP is to prevent homelessness, so we work closely with forces leavers to ensure a smooth transition to civilian life. We look at ways in which we can help veterans to live comfortably, whether this is financial support, help with family and relationships, or assistance in finding and securing employment. We clearly identify their individual needs so that we can help them ourselves, or signpost them to suitable agencies.

“There is plenty of help out there, but many force leavers are unaware. There’s no one to tell you what to do or what exact services are out there, but we’re trying to change that,” says Andrew. “Sometimes we need a bit of help with things that we didn’t ever think we would struggle with.”

HHCP also works directly with those who have already hit crisis point and are entrenched in homelessness. Often these individuals do not consider themselves eligible to the incredible services that are out there.

Other charities that we recommend are Hull4Heroes, Hull Veterans League and the Royal British Legion. Each of these organisations works to better the lives of those who have fought and served for the country we live in.

www.hull4heroes.co.uk
www.hullveteransleague.com
www.britishlegion.org.uk

Find out more about how you can help homeless veterans by emailing us at info@hullhomeless.co.uk.