Veterans are being given the chance to build their own homes as part of a new project to provide affordable housing for former members of the armed forces.
The Nelson Project, in Plymouth, will see the creation of 24 homes in the city – at least 12 of which will be reserved for ex-service personnel. Veterans who choose to take part will also receive construction training to help them return to employment.
Work on the project is due to start in April, with the first homes ready to be occupied in a year’s time. One of the veterans who stands to benefit is Glyn Barrell, 46, who served with the Royal Artillery for 12 years before being medically discharged in 1999.
“I’m living in a hostel at the moment and I’m pulling my hair out, so when I heard about it I thought it sounded brilliant,” said Mr Barrell, who was forced to leave the Army after he was unable to recover from a serious car crash which shattered his leg and left him in a coma. He had part of his leg amputated last year.
“I’m really up for it,” he added. “It’ll have to be a ground-floor place, step-free, wheelchair access, with a wetroom. There are sometimes days when I can’t use my leg and have to rely on the wheelchair.”
Over the past few months, The Independent’s appeal for homeless veterans has been raising awareness about the housing issues faced by many ex-servicemen and women. All proceeds are being divided between Veterans Aid and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
The self-build scheme is being run by the Community Self Build Agency (CSBA) in co-operation with DCH housing group and Plymouth City Council.
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
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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 aim of the project is to provide homes for veterans and also help overcome some of the barriers they may face when trying to access housing and employment, and make it easier for them to integrate back into the local community,” said CSBA chair Stella Clarke.
“It can be really hard for people leaving the armed forces to get back into normal, everyday life. Some people really struggle, and obviously some have very bad injuries.”
Under a previous scheme in Bristol, 10 people helped to build the homes in which they now live. All of those who took part are now working – six in the building trade.
Plymouth councillor Chris Penberthy said: “This is a fantastic project… we have such strong military links in the city as well as a need for more affordable housing, and this scheme helps address both needs.”Reuse content