22 December 2017
- Sadiq joins forces with Veterans Aid to secure future for ‘Welfare to Wellbeing’ project
- Mayor commits over £180,000 new funding to help ex-service personnel facing homelessness
- Grant follows the launch of new ‘No one needs to sleep rough’ campaign with coalition of 18 homelessness charities
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has teamed up with the charity Veterans Aid to support a key project offering a route off the street for every UK veteran who is homeless or facing homelessness in the capital.
In London, the Mayor’s data (CHAIN) revealed that last year over 8,000 people were seen sleeping rough, of which 132 had served in the UK armed forces. A key service to help those ex-servicemen and women is Veterans Aid’s award-winning ‘Welfare to Wellbeing’ project, which has been in operation since 2003 and last year helped 411 veterans who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Despite its success, pressure on the charity’s finances meant it risked being unable to help all those in need. The Mayor has therefore decided to step in and provide £182,824 funding, which will be match-funded by Veterans Aid and is expected to help more than 300 veterans over a three-year period from January 2018.
Through the project, services on offer include:
– Immediate emergency accommodation for veterans with the aim to secure long-term housing;
– Access to food, toiletries, medical and health care including counselling;
– Streamlined services to speed up the process of identifying and refer veterans who are homeless, or at risk at homelessness in every London borough; and
– Help addressing the underlying causes of homelessness by providing counselling, rehabilitation, and skills and job training that will enable veterans to lead independent, sustainable lives.
The Mayor is committed to helping all those who feel they have no choice other than to sleep rough, and last week launched a new campaign ‘No one needs to sleep rough in London’. His campaign brings together for the first time 18 charities to form a coalition and a single donation point, and shows Londoners how they can let services know about rough sleepers they are concerned about. The fundraising drive has raised over £55,000 in five days to help support the services provided by the coalition of charities. The Mayor is encouraging everyone who would like to support his campaign to visit www.london.gov.uk/helproughsleepers.
This winter, Sadiq has also changed City Hall policy to ensure that free emergency homeless shelters providing bedding, showers and food will now be open whenever temperatures in London fall below zero. Under the previous Mayor, emergency shelters stayed shut until three consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures had been forecast. As well as changing the policy for City Hall shelters, Sadiq has also secured the agreement of all 33 local authorities in the capital that they will also open their shelter on every sub-zero day.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It is shameful that anyone in London feels they have no choice other than to end up on the streets. That is why I’m investing record levels in vital services to make sure no-one needs to sleep rough. As part of this, I want to make sure the right services are there to help our veterans – this new funding will help ex-servicemen and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting the public, and who now deserve our help getting back on their feet.“
The CEO of Veterans Aid, Dr Hugh Milroy said, “We are delighted to have the Mayor’s support for our work; veterans are generally resilient individuals but they are not immune from life’s crises and there is no crisis greater than homelessness. Our Welfare to Wellbeing model is a pathway, not a quick fix, but its outcomes are sustainable. Last year we helped 411 new clients and suitably housed 154 veterans – but in many cases we had to deal with underlying problems first. We also had to ensure that those men and women had the means to sustain independent living.”
Jennifer Travassos, Westminster Council member of Mayor’s No Nights Sleeping Rough Taskforce said: ”Investment in preventative measures to ensure every person facing homelessness is supported before they end up on the streets is vitally important. This exciting project focuses on these key outcomes.“
Nick is a former Royal Navy serviceman whose battle with mental health and family issues left him homeless. VA’s Welfare to Wellbeing pathway helped get him into immediate safe B&B accommodation, before moving into the charity’s New Belvedere House hostel. While there Nick was provided with counselling, training and help to secure a job. After nine months of residential support he was helped to find and furnish suitable long-term accommodation.
Nick said: “One crack appeared and then another – it was probably over a period of about three years, a slow ebbing away of physical and mental health, money and motivation. I knew with other military charities that it took weeks, or months to get help, if anything at all, but at Veterans Aid it was immediate. Within half an hour I was sorted. I wasn’t looked down upon: I was treated with civility and decency. They understood that everyone has hard times and that some people don’t have the support that others do.”
The Mayor has delivered record levels of City Hall investment in services to give people sleeping rough vital support. The Mayor is committed to spending £9m every year on services and has launched a £50m fund to invest in ‘move on’ accommodation for homeless people after they leave hostels. Sadiq has also secured £4.2m for new targeted services, including a programme to ensure the capital’s 350 most entrenched rough sleepers are identified and supported.