The support that a homeless veteran requires is often very complex and requires specialist assistance – something that many local authority homeless services are unable to provide in full. It is thought that a veteran may be more vulnerable to homelessness, and issues that may lead to homelessness, for several reasons. These may include:
- Lack of specialist support
- Poor mental health, resulting in relationship breakdowns, social isolation, and issues with employment
- Institutionalisation and difficulties adjusting to civilian life
- Poor resettlement packages after discharge
- Drinking culture within the armed forces which can lead to alcoholism
- Exposure to combat which is thought to be a risk factor for violence
- Stigma surrounding mental health
- A ‘masculine’ culture that sees seeking help as a weakness
In 2018, and after recognising this need within those accessing our services, we officially opened Victory House, a specialist 8-bed accommodation offers tailored support and assistance for ex-service personnel. We were assisted with funding for Victory House from the Royal British Legion and Splash Community Projects and continue to work alongside organisations who work to support veterans in their journey back to independence.
Four of the eight rooms at Victory House are DDA compliant, meaning that they are wheelchair accessible. There is also a lift to allow access to the upper level and garden area, giving opportunities for clients to socialise and take part in activities together.
Victory House clients have a named Housing Support Worker to ensure that each individual receives the support they require to move forward in their journey. This can include accessing volunteering/employment opportunities, connecting with external agencies who may offer help with mental health and addiction, accessing healthcare via our in-house GP surgery, or seeking assistance from our wonderful volunteers who offer counselling and a ‘buddy’ system to reduce isolation and loneliness. The Pathway Worker also helps to arrange group activities such as trips out, or more recently, for Aerosol Art to come in and create a beautiful mural on a blank wall at the property for clients to enjoy.
Keith, who joined the Royal Engineers at just 16 years old, was the first to move in. Keith suffered for many years with PTSD and feels that Victory House was the start of a much more positive life for him. At the time, this is what he said:
“Being offered a place in Victory House has given me so much confidence in people. My life is on the up and I am hoping that others will benefit from the help and support that this project offers. I am addressing my issues and becoming a better person. Without TAH’s (Arc's) help and encouragement, I would probably still be the person I was, in a really bad place.”
We are delighted to say that Keith has since moved on into his own independent accommodation. He still pops into our offices from time to time for a catch up and is very much an ambassador for our Veteran’s Project.
If you would like to know more about Arc’s Veteran’s Project, please get in touch via the ‘Contact Us’ section of our website.