Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans

by FirstLight Trust
Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans
Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans
Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans
Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans
Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans
Covid-19 & Preventing Homelessness for Veterans

A roof over our head, warmth and food are basic needs; or perhaps that order should change and it should be food, warmth and then a roof over our head.  Homelessness however, is never about the lack of a roof - that can be the symptom but it is not the cause.  

What leads to homelessness often starts with a downward spiral from deep rooted causes, and can present in so many different ways.  

Sofa surfing, staying with friends, sleeping in a car can all happen whilst trying to hold down a job.  And it can hit so fast; the breakdown of relationships, leaving home, the cost of living spiralling out of control, losing your job, trying to keep all the plates spinning whilst forgetting to ask for help, and simply leaving everthing until it is too late..... and then the baliffs come knocking or your relationship crashes and one of you has to leave.

And whilst we are often proactive at preventing people becoming homeless, sometimes that individual stands outside our door ashamed, alone and terrified of asking for support.  The great news is that with your support and the funds we receive you help us do so much to prevent this escalation.  (And we always always offer support to those who come to our doors).

In these situations age is irrelevant; we have had those in their 30's who have never been out of work before, finding themselves out of a job because of Covid and with little to fall back on bar a strong work ethic.  They require a different type of support to find appropriate housing - some 'out of the box thinking' as the charitable sector is not used to finding those who are well educated, young, articulate and those who have had successful previous careers, homeless.  

We have had others who have come to us, who are working, but with the break down of personal relationships have found themselves out on the street; they have run out of friends who will give them a sofa to bed down on, they might have children, but the divorce is not settled so there is little in the way of legal entitlement until that process begins.  We assist them in finding accommodation too.

And with a recession looming; household bills increasing; relationships folding under the accumulated pressure of the lockdown, social isolation, work patterns changing with different skill sets required, we are expecting many many more of these requests for assistance.

Please help us prevent more cases of homelessness; we are effective, we care and most importantly we 'do'.  £35 provides one nights accommodation with a shower and meal in a bed and breakfast.  Please support and work with us to ensure that no veteran or their family will go homeless this winter.

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A home is a basic need. The cause of homelessness is often “invisible” with many veterans becoming homeless due to debt, relationship breakdowns, unemployment, ill-health or lack of affordable housing. The preventative work we do around these issues is effective and long-term - from providing emergency B&B accommodation whilst we find something suitable to sourcing a new long-term home.

Homelessness is a very emotive word, and veterans who come to us are often proud, and have ‘made do’ in situations and conditions most of us would consider unacceptable. This is XY’s story.

XY is an 85-year old army veteran who served for 6 years in National Service. When he came to FirstLight Trust he was living alone in a caravan in a field, having nursed his long-term partner through dementia until her death in a nursing home. XY is practical, has worked on many successful jobs throughout his career including working on overseas projects for 9 months at a time, and is fiercely independent – one of the last to ask for or seek any form of support.

Finding the correct housing is important for long-term success, so it was very appropriate that XY’s housing came in the form of an Alabare self-build project which resulted in XY, along with 5 other veterans, moving into their own houses in Christmas 2020. XY then proceeded to fix curtain poles, shelves, tables, laid carpets – not only for himself but for his neighbours. XY is slowly finding his feet and his place in the community. Being so independent and self-sufficient can be lonely and isolating, and ‘keeping busy’ can often be a solitary activity; so our support has come with social activities, support around wellbeing, and reconnecting with family and the wider community.

And that support will continue as long for as long as it is needed. Please consider donating to this project so that FirstLight Trust can support more veterans like XY.

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JRJ and wife enjoying their new home.
JRJ and wife enjoying their new home.

We have a new campaign running to prevent homelessness over the cold winter months, and we need your help!

We’re asking all our amazing supporters to donate just £10 and nominate 10 family members or friends to do the same. You will be helping someone in need, and you will be sharing the gift of giving with your friends and family. Lovely!

Please donate £10 through our GlobalGiving project page on Preventing Homelessness and ask your 10 nominees to do the same. Then ask them to nominate 10, and so it continues...

We always see a spike in homelessness over the winter months. At a time of year when street sleeping is life threatening.

RD, a homeless veteran supported by the charity says, “I don’t think I could have done this on my own, I wouldn’t even know where to start… I know I’m going to be happy here [in my new home] and can’t thank you enough for all you have done.”

We know we are effective in the work we are doing, but we need your help to support even more like RD. Just £10 can provide a hot nutritious meal to a veteran on the brink of homelessness and can make all the difference.

Please watch our new short film on preventing homelessness, a case study showing some of the amazing outcomes your donations will contribute to (link below)

Thank you so much for your ongoing support, we truly appreciate it. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and joyous New Year!

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Stress Down Day is this Friday 29th October and we are focussing on reading!

There are so many mental health benefits to this activity; curling up with a good book helps us to relax and prevents stress along with so many other amazing benefits. Click for more information: https://stressdownday.uk/reading/

Last week, veterans in Gosport and FirstLight’s activities coordinator spent time at a local school with some children of serving personnel. They took time reading the beautifully written and illustrated book War Game by Michael Foreman.

The book explores themes of coming together and building resilience which gave the veterans and children time talk about how they have united for the day.

This integrational work is so important in encouraging the exchange of knowledge, trying out new activities, understanding life in the services, and breaking down loneliness and isolation.

Reading has an important part to play in reducing stress and anxiety; it fosters a sense of wellbeing and nurtures imagination and creativity.

Get involved this Stress Down Day and help us to support veterans of the Emergency Services, including families and children:

If sharing on social media please use the hashtag #StressDownDayUK and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @stressdownday

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The importance of activities and support cannot be over-emphasised.

Over the last year, it has become clear that activities play a huge role in enabling the veterans we support to open up about more complex issues they are experiencing. We have found that many have been more willing to open up in spaces in which they felt relaxed and comfortable, and we are able to better understand what they really need. During lockdown, this was only possible due to outdoor spaces like the allotments, which gave them self-confidence to speak more freely.

Support workers were able to meet veterans in a place that is safe and secure and in an environment where 1:1 can take place safely; working alongside support workers in tasks also enables veterans to share their stories and information in a way that they would not otherwise feel happy doing.

Our allotments are particularly significant in supporting veterans in this way. Connecting with nature and watching the garden and vegetables flourish has been something many of the veterans look forward to each week.

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FirstLight Trust

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
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Twitter: @FirstLightTrust
Project Leader:
Rose Bradbury
London, United Kingdom
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