One of the charities at the centre of The Independent’s appeal for Homeless Veterans received a major funding boost yesterday when Boris Johnson pledged £200,000 towards the renovation of its vital hostel for ex-servicemen in London.
The Mayor of London, who slept rough on the streets of the capital earlier this month to support the appeal and raise awareness about homelessness, made the surprise announcement during Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall yesterday [WEDS].
The money, which will come from the budget of the Greater London Authority (GLA), will go towards the refurbishment and extension of New Belvedere House in Stepney, which is run by Veterans Aid. Former servicemen who have fallen on hard times and would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets are housed there.
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
Mr Johnson said: “Those who serve our country deserve all the help we can give them, as the GLA Tories and The Independent have rightly campaigned for. Although there are now far fewer UK veterans on the streets than there were two decades ago, it’s tragic that last year they still numbered over 120 [in London].”
New Belvedere House has 55 rooms, but is almost always full. In order to maintain its high success rate in preparing veterans for independent living, Veterans Aid wants to enlarge and modernise the building. In total, the project is expected to cost £6 million.
Dr Hugh Milroy, the CEO of Veterans Aid, said: “I was stunned to hear today’s announcement of £200,000 being donated towards the redevelopment of our hostel. We have been supported by Mayor Johnson and his team for a few years now and have been working with them for some time hoping that they’d support the project. However, the team from City Hall never even indicated that they were going to help so this really is the best type of news.”
The former RAF Wing Commander said he was “sure” that The Independent’s campaign had helped influence the decision. “We are so proud that the Mayor of London acknowledged our expertise and recognised the charity’s battle to end homelessness among the ex-service personnel community,” he said.
The GLA is also providing a further £250,000 for other charities working with homeless veterans to bid for. GLA Conservative budget spokesman Gareth Bacon, who campaigned for the continuation of such funding, said: “It’s a sad fact that many of our servicemen and women face serious social problems such as homelessness after returning from military service.
“This cash has already made a significant difference by helping hundreds of veterans access treatment, hostel accommodation, training and employment opportunities. This additional £450,000 of funding will help more people off the streets and help them get back on their feet, lead an independent life and integrate in society.”Reuse content