Charities join forces to inform older veterans of their housing options

Two of Scotland’s leading charities, Age Scotland and Housing Options Scotland have launched a Housing for Older Veterans in Scotland advice guide. They are calling on military veterans to request their free copy from the Age Scotland helpline – 0800 12 44 222. The guide is for any military veteran age 65 and older who has completed at least one day’s Regular or Reserve service in HM Forces.

Age Scotland is a member of the ‘Unforgotten Forces’ Consortium which is a partnership between 15 leading organisations led by Poppyscotland which is delivering a range of new and enhanced services to older veterans and funded this guide.

The new guide’s “wealth of knowledge” has been backed by the Scottish Veteran’s Commissioner Charlie Wallace who has welcomed charities working together to improve the lives of older military veterans.

Scottish Veterans Commissioner Charlie Wallace said:

“This is a practical guide which provides a wealth of information for older veterans. It’s a great example of what can be achieved when organisations work together, pooling their knowledge and expertise and is something I am keen to see more of.”

Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:

“As an older veteran you may have settled in civilian housing years ago, but later life can make a rethink necessary; perhaps you’re thinking about adapting your home or moving to a more suitable one. Thanks to funding from the Unforgotten Forces partnership and the specialist knowledge of Housing Options Scotland Military Matters service, we’re able through the guide to inform veterans not only about housing options open to every older person, but also about the extra help and options available solely to them.”

Housing Options Scotland Chief Executive Moira Bayne said:

“We are delighted to see the publication of this guide, which shows how committed we all are to supporting our veterans in later life.”

The guide is an initiative of Age Scotland’s Veterans’ Project and Housing Options Scotland’s Military Matters service. It is available for free by calling the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Case study below of Elizabeth from Edinburgh, a veteran who used Housing Options Scotland to find a new home when her landlord decided to sell the home she was living in. There is extra help and support available to veterans but many are unaware of it.

Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth is a veteran after serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and she lived in a private rented house in Edinburgh for more than nine years. She really liked the house she was in, but was worried about rent increases and how she would afford this in to the future. Then one day, she was told that her landlord was selling the property and that she would have to move.

Elizabeth contacted the local authority to find out about her options, once they found out that she was a veteran, they told her about an organisation called Housing Options Scotland who might be able to give her advice and support.

Very worried about her situation, Elizabeth contacted the organisation and “spoke to a lovely woman called Moira Bayne, she made me feel very comfortable and hopeful, it was a bit of light at the end of a very dark tunnel…speaking to her took some of the anxiety away, which at the time was quite bad”.

Elizabeth wasn’t looking for anything special, she just wanted a one bedroom property “just something that was adequate and not too expensive”. She was feeling quite desperate, she wasn’t looking for her dream home, just somewhere safe and secure that she could call her own.

“Moira almost straight away found something for me to go and look at and lovely as it was, it was far too big.” Elizabeth was given lots of other choices and recommendations in the following weeks, of places to think about and go a look at which she said “was very helpful” and “Moira kept in touch to see how I was getting on.”

“Out of the blue, I got a phone call to say that the council had keys to a flat I had bid on, I don’t even remember bidding on it.” Elizabeth received the call on a Friday, on the Saturday she had a look around the area which she was happy with and on the Monday, she met the housing officer to get her keys. “I felt like I’d come home”.

Elizabeth had come a long way to reach this point, she reminisced “I envisaged at this point in my life I would be in a different financial situation and thought I’d be in my own privately owned home, so it was all a bit of a shock. However, things are meant to be in my mind and where I am now, I am very content and very happy. I feel very blessed and thankful”.

The biggest obstacle that Elizabeth faced was not knowing what the future would hold, she noted that Housing Options Scotland helped allay her anxieties and gave her confidence. She felt very confused by what she was being told by the housing officers, she didn’t understand everything which she found upsetting, Elizabeth said “Moira gave me hope, I just thought that with her help, something would come about, and I needed to feel that. Although I am a strong person, this situation really knocked me”.

Elizabeth loves her new home, it’s in a quite area and its central enough for her. She has the house the way she wants it and is delighted to have a balcony which she has transformed in to a little garden retreat, which is something she really wanted. “I thought where I was before was simply the best, but I came to realise that I was starting to feel like a small person in a mansion. My new home is more compact, the rooms are a nice size, I have my balcony to sit in and everything is around me that I need.”

Elizabeth’s advice for any older veteran who is going through a similar housing journey as her is “keep an open mind and live in hope. Take your time, ask lots of question and think before you make a move or make a decision, just don’t give up.”

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