New research to create a roadmap to end veterans’ homelessness in the UK

A new research study has been launched with the aim of creating a roadmap to end homelessness for British military veterans.

Pre-coronavirus estimates indicate that between 100 and 400 veterans sleep rough every year and a further 3,000 to 4,000 face homelessness.

Veterans often leave the Armed Forces with no adult experience of finding housing.

Helping veterans into long-term sustainable housing continues to be identified as one of the most important aspects of transition into civilian life and is a key factor in the Government’s Strategy for Veterans which set a target to ensure “Veterans have a secure place to live either through buying, renting or social housing” by 2028.

Forces in Mind Trust estimates that the cost to HM Treasury of Britain’s veterans failing to transition into civilian housing is around £25m every year.

The Trust has awarded £219,240 to Riverside – one of the UK’s largest providers of accommodation for people affected by homelessness – and the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy, to undertake the 18-month research project.

Riverside and The University of York have announced the launch of the project to coincide with Armed Forces Day on Saturday 26th June.

The project will explore the current provision and effectiveness of housing related information and advice to the Armed Forces Community, and create an action plan to address UK veterans’ homelessness.

The study will outline how serving personnel can be better prepared for the transition to civilian life before they leave the Armed Forces and when interventions, and what sort, need to be made, identifying the specific steps which need to be taken to achieve this.

The research will include interviews with more than 100 British veterans to compare the lived experience of transition into civilian life from a range of Armed Forces backgrounds, evaluating the experience of both men and women, people from different ethnic backgrounds and the experience of single people and families.

The research will map out the entire process of an individual joining the Armed Forces in the UK, serving, transitioning to civilian life and then living independently as a veteran.

Thomas McBarnet, Director of Programmes at Forces in Mind Trust, said

“Following the success of the No Homeless Veterans campaign with Stoll, we are delighted to be working with Riverside and the University of York on this new project to ensure we progress towards an end to veterans’ homelessness. We know that effective solutions are often about getting the right information to the right person at the right time. So, while we have previously addressed the support provided to veterans facing homelessness, this project will look at the interventions which need to be made early and the continuity and availability of advice and support beyond. The roadmap this project will deliver will be an important tool in ensuring that those who have served our country have access to the right support, and that appropriate housing is achievable for all veterans.”

Lee Buss, Director of Operations and Group Veterans Lead for the Riverside Group, said:

This exciting research is the first time that the journey from someone joining the military through to them experiencing homelessness will have been mapped out.

“Mapping this journey out will enable us to analyse the points where the right interventions could have enabled a military veteran to avoid homelessness and therefore put us in the best position to eradicate homelessness for veterans.

“The No Homeless Veterans campaign is working hard to prevent anyone who has served their country from having to endure homelessness or sleeping rough on the streets and this research will give us the evidence we need to help make that a reality.

“We look forward to working with the University of York, Government, veterans and non-veteran homelessness organisations, and the social housing sector, on solving this important societal issue.”

Deborah Quilgars, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York, said:

“Stopping our Armed Forces veterans from falling into homelessness is a hugely important and emotive issue and we are pleased to be partnering with Riverside on this initiative.

“While there is an increasing focus on funding for people affected by rough sleeping, we think this research is hugely important for creating a roadmap to prevent British Service veterans from becoming homeless.”

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