30 September 2019

Homeless veterans are being missed by local authorities and are losing out on the enhanced support and housing available to them, according to a campaign.

The 'No Homeless Veterans' campaign launched on Tuesday.

Campaign workers said more than 3,500 homeless veterans could be slipping through the net each year.

A life saved

Mac McLaren was an infantry soldier in the British Army for seven years.

Injuries forced him to leave the services and he found himself homeless and sleeping in his car.

He turned to a local authority but was told he did not have enough housing points and was put at the bottom of the list.

"I got no joy there [at the local authority]," he said.

He was told he had not earned enough housing points, as he was not on the housing list.

"I cannot be on the housing list if I am still serving," he explained to the authorities. He said he was "turned away".

It was when Mr McLaren contacted the charity Stoll, which provides supported housing to veterans, that he said his life was saved.

"I was in a very dark place at the time," Mr McLaren said.

He admitted at the time he had thoughts about "taking a load of painkillers and going to sleep":

"I am not the only one who was in that position."

Mr McLaren has since become a photographer for the Invictus Games and applied for a grant to have a gym equipped for veterans.

'Slipping through the net'

However, according to the 'No Homeless Veterans' campaign, there are still an estimated 3,500 homeless veterans being missed by local authorities.

"It is the first concerted national campaign trying to end veterans' homelessness," explained Ed Tytherleigh, Co-Chair of Cobseo Housing Cluster.

The aim is to "identify homeless veterans and channel [them] though the right support as quickly as possible", Mr Tytherleigh said.

At the moment, it is estimated that 3% of the national homeless population comes from the veteran community, but less than 1% of individual local authorities' support comes from the veteran community.

He said "there are some veterans slipping through the net", but 'No Homeless Veterans' wants to identify them and assist them to receive the support needed.

The campaign plans to contact every local authority in the UK to offer training in how to ensure veterans receive the help they need and avoid homelessness.

Source: Forces Network