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.
In pictures: Homeless Veterans appeal
In pictures: Homeless Veterans appeal
1/20 Glynn Barrell
Glyn Barrell is among the veterans hoping to benefit from the self-build scheme in Plymouth
2/20 Rachel Holliday
Rachel Holliday is converting a police station into a hostel
3/20 Androcles Scicluna
Veteran Androcles Scicluna says performing boosted his confidence
4/20 Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole, 51, from London, spent three years in the Army but left in 1982
5/20 Maurillia Simpson
Former servicewoman Maurillia Simpson with the medals she won at last year’s Invictus Games
Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard
6/20 Martin Rutledge
Head of The Soldiers’ Charity, Martin Rutledge, says charities sometimes allow emotion to dictate their choices
7/20 Ben Griffin
Ben Griffin wants to open people’s eyes to the cycle of political violence
8/20 Robin Horsfall
Robin Horsfall, who fought in the Falklands and helped end the Iranian embassy siege
9/20 Mark Hayward
A bed for the night and food helped Mark Hayward out of misfortune
10/20 Ashley Rosser
Ashley Rosser, who served in the RAF, at the Veterans Aid hostel in east London
11/20 Dave Henson
Britain's Invictus Games captain Dave Henson says veterans’ charities helped rebuild his life
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
12/20 Hugh Milroy
Hugh Milroy dispels myths about war-zone veterans through his work as the CEO of Veterans Aid
13/20 Andy MacFarlane and Julie Taylor
Former soldiers Andy MacFarlane and Julie Taylor work at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull under a covenant connecting veterans with employers
14/20 Mark McKillion
Mark McKillion's experience of living on the street eventually left him feeling as though the only way to escape was to end his life. He survived his desperate jump from Westminster Bridge, and VA's help has restored his "faith in humanity"
Nigel, a navy veteran, remembers living on the beach in the run-up to Christmas, when it rained every day for a week. He slept on a bench for seven years whilst suffering from Parkinson's disease.
16/20 Keith Cooper
Before Keith Cooper had his place confirmed at Avondale House in Newcastle, he was working out whether he could afford to buy a tent to live in
17/20 Simon Weston
Simon Weston, a Falklands War veteran, said even something as simple as a cup of tea can be an important step in getting the life of a homeless veteran back on track.
18/20 Ian Palmer, professor of military psychiatry
Ian Palmer, the first professor of military psychiatry to the British Armed Forces, says that the depiction of all ex-service personnel having post-traumatic stress disorder may stop people who really need help from getting it
19/20 Douglas Cameron
Evgeny Lebedev with Douglas Cameron, who had a hernia operation while serving in Burma
Johnnie Shand Kidd
20/20 Veterans Aid
General Sir Mike Jackson, President of ABF The Soldiers' Charity, called for donations to the Homeless Veterans appeal
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.Reuse content