The Archbishop of Canterbury has given his “wholehearted” support to The Independent’s Homeless Veterans appeal, saying that the British public owes an “immeasurable debt of gratitude” to those who signed up to fight for their country.
In backing the drive to help ex-servicemen and women who have fallen on hard times, Justin Welby joins a remarkable roll call of supporters which already includes Prince William, Angelina Jolie, Stephen Fry, former SAS sergeant Andy McNab and the leaders of the three main political parties.
“Shortly before Christmas, I had the enormous privilege of meeting veterans of various conflicts when I visited the National Memorial Arboretum,” the Archbishop said. “It powerfully brought home to me the service and sacrifice given by so many, and the immeasurable debt of gratitude we owe them.
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
“We must not forget those who – having served our country with such courage – have now fallen on hard times. So I wholeheartedly support this appeal, which offers to help those ex-servicemen and women who have become destitute and seeks to prevent it happening to others.”
Proceeds from the appeal will be divided between ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, an umbrella organisation which gives grants to thousands of individuals and smaller projects, and Veterans Aid, which combats homelessness among former servicemen and women through its London drop-in centre and hostel.
The head of the Church of England praised the “extraordinary” work carried out by both charities. “They not only provide crucial practical support to ex-servicemen and women who are homeless, in debt or struggling with addiction: they also bring hope,” he said. “I pray people will give generously to this appeal.”
At the end of last year David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband gave the cause their unanimous backing. Angelina Jolie, the actress and humanitarian activist, has also made an undisclosed donation on behalf of herself, her husband Brad Pitt and their six children.
Both charities welcomed the Archbishop’s words. Dr Hugh Milroy, the CEO of Veterans Aid, said: “The Archbishop’s support is heart-warming and his sentiments about prevention chime particularly with our philosophy. We want people to come to us before they hit rock bottom. We have been offering a hand up to veterans in crisis since 1932 and are absolutely a place of hope. No ex-serviceman or woman in distress need feel alone or abandoned.”
Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, chief of staff at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, added: “The continued high-level support this campaign attracts exemplifies the strength of feeling in the UK towards the men and women of our armed forces. Continued financial help is required to ensure that we can help those who need it the most.”
During his visit to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire the Archbishop filmed his New Year Message, in which he warned of “a danger that the sacrifice and suffering of those caught up in war and disaster will slip from our minds”. He said his hope for 2015 was that Britain continued to be “the kind of country that goes on looking outwards; that is full of a generous spirit”.Reuse content