A welcome £3m from the Chancellor, but homeless veterans still need our help

 

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The Independent Online

Since we launched our Homeless Veterans appeal last week this paper has taken the opportunity to highlight the life stories of some of the ex-servicemen and women who will be helped by the funds generously donated by Independent readers.

Not one of the experiences documented has been identical to another. In some cases it was addiction – most often to alcohol – that started the downward spiral. In others the break-up of a marriage or long-term relationship, not least due to the pressures caused when someone who is regularly away on service returns home full-time. But the stories we told share one element in common. When those featured reached rock bottom, someone was there to pick them up and help them start again.

That is why we are so delighted that in this year’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor has taken the opportunity to endorse our campaign by earmarking £3m towards improving the homeless hostel run by one of our partner charities, Veterans Aid.

This site – in Stepney in east London – provides just such a helping hand and its redevelopment is one of our appeal’s primary objectives. It is there that Veterans Aid provides a recovery service that records a remarkable 98 per cent success rate and houses people not only from London but across Britain who came in the hope of a fresh future.

The redevelopment will enable Veterans Aid to expand that service by almost a third, with new facilities on hand to further assist recovery. More veterans can receive their help once it is completed.

The money provided by the Chancellor is not enough for that building work to be finished. There is much more to be done in the coming weeks to build on this foundation, and much more to be done to ensure that we provide the support to other organisations around the country that exist to help ex-servicemen during tough times. Fulfilling that objective would be a notable achievement. But today’s news was, in the words of the charity’s CEO Dr Hugh Milroy, a “flying start” towards this target. For that we are extremely grateful.

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