Homeless Veterans Help Build Their Own Homes

The Forces in Mind Trust has awarded a grant of £70,000 to the Community Self Build Agency (CSBA) to enable them to continue with their work helping veterans who have particularly struggled with housing and employment in the transition to civilian life.

After an initial pilot in Bristol seven years ago, the reach of the project, which aims to help disadvantaged veterans build their own homes and achieve lasting employment, has expanded across the South West and beyond. CSBA works to increase confidence and skills, so that a veteran completing a self-build project leaves with a significantly improved lifestyle and feels a valued part of the community. At the end of the first two schemes, 22 people had helped build the home they now live in and all are in employment.

Norman Biddle, Chairman of CSBA said: “The Community Self Build Agency are delighted that Forces in Mind Trust have made a significant grant at such an important time in the development of our Charity. This grant will help us with the development of our Governance and in-house support with fundraising, administration and financial management.

“We can now roll out our support of our deserving Veterans on a wider and national basis following the success of our first 5 completed projects where we have supported some 55 Veterans to self-build their own homes, move into employment and in many cases reconnect with their estranged families.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust said: “Transition from the Armed Forces for the majority of Service leavers is a positive experience. For a minority, it is a difficult challenge and due to a variety of circumstances, some ex-Service personnel need extra support to secure a home, a future career and more generally to adapt to life away from the Armed Forces.

“Our independent evaluation of CSBA’s two Bristol-based schemes, published in February this year, demonstrated the efficacy and value (economic as well as personal) of these innovative projects.  This award, made under our capacity building strand, is designed to allow CSBA to achieve a sustainable model, from which veterans, and indeed the whole of society, will benefit.”


Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012. http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life, and it delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model around 6 outcomes in the following areas: Housing; Employment; Health and wellbeing; Finance; Criminal Justice System; and Relationships. All work is published in open access and will be hosted on the Veterans’ and Families’ Research Hub at Anglia Ruskin University, which is going live in Autumn 2017. A high standard of reportage is demanded of all grant holders so as to provide a credible evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

Useful links

About the Veterans self-build (VSB) community self-build agency (CSBA)

The Community Self-Build Agency’s charitable initiative emerged in the 1980s with a project called Zenzele, in St Pauls Bristol and has undertaken some 175+ projects since providing some 1200 housing units and thousands of qualifications for disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community. For the last 7 years we have focused on the homeless veteran population which is at an unacceptable level of some 8000+ nationally. The media recently reported that 459 service personnel were discharged from service this year with PTSD and mental health specific problems and that 40% of these will fall out of the system.

The CSBA proven model is to identify a location where veterans are in need, locate a nominal cost site usually in conjunction with a willing local authority and then approach a pro-active Housing Association as a partner who will lead the construction development phase including securing the regulatory approvals and then appoint an experienced and co-operative contractor.

The mission of CSBA is to provide a progressive transformational programme, using the platform of a building site self-build (under supervision), to enable veterans towards recovery, long term stable accommodation and full-time employment. Since 2010, the Veterans Self Build division of the CSBA has to date helped 55+ individuals plus their families out of housing crisis.

Useful links

Website:  www.veteransselfbuild.org
Twitter:    @vetsselfbuild
Facebook: Veterans Self Build

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