…It’s not just somewhere they can come in and shelter. It’s somewhere where there is information available.” – John, ex-serviceman.  

As Armed Forces Day 2020 approaches, we hope to raise awareness of issues facing ex-servicemen and women who might have fallen into homelessness. Homeless Oxfordshire provides a safe space for ex-service people such as John, who used our Sit Up service at night.  

An estimated 3% of rough sleepers in England are former members of the armed services, the actual figure is probably higher.

Research suggests that 3% of people sleeping rough in England are former members of the armed services, although the actual figure is likely to be much higher. [1]   

Claire Dowan, CEO of Homeless Oxfordshire, said: 

“People coming into our services are some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Poor sleep, inadequate diets, poor personal hygiene, exposure to abuse, substance misuse, poor mental health and extreme trauma have a huge physical and emotional impact on people and their recovery. Ex-service people adjusting to civilian life may experience the same challenges, coping with ill mental health as a result of PTSD, breakdown in a relationship, loss of custody of their children. 

Our aim is to help people to re-build their lives, including those from ex-forces backgrounds who have found themselves in challenging circumstances after transitioning to civilian life. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ reason for why veterans might become homeless; however, these are people who might have been subjected to extremely stressful situations over a long period of time meaning that their needs could be very different to clients who have always been civilians.  

Claire Dowan added  

We help and support people from a range of backgrounds all with increasing complex needs. We are all human and sometimes just need a safe space to reconnect with ourselves and our lives once again. We are delighted to have such a good relationship with RAF Brize Norton and really value their support not only from volunteering with us, but from the kindness and compassion they show our clients.” 

As we think about Armed Forces Day, we’re proud of our relationship with RAF Brize Norton and their personnel who in the past have regularly volunteered in the kitchen at our 56-bed hostel, O’Hanlon House. Their presence is always inspiring to our clients and their help also provides our staff with ever-welcome support. It seems appropriate that we say thank you to them on Armed Forces Day – we hope to see them again in the future. 

Squadron Leader Arnison, Officer in Charge Station Charities Committee at RAF Brize Norton said:  

As Service Personnel we are acutely aware of the number of ex-Servicepeople who find themselves in tough circumstances, that’s why we really value the services and facilities provided by Homeless Oxfordshire.  Being in the Services, there is a lot of support available to us and we know how valuable that is to our people – our relationship with Homeless Oxfordshire that allows us to help out in the kitchen is a real privilege for us, and opportunity to give just a little bit back.  We are really looking to getting back to help as soon as COVID-19 allows.” 

Donations to Homeless Oxfordshire enable us to help anyone affected by homelessness, including ex-service personnel who might have fallen through the cracks in the system. However, fundraising isn’t the only way that you can support. 

Today we’re supporting the hashtag #NoHomelessVeterans so please do remember to follow and share our social media posts to help us get conversations started on topics related to UK homelessness and the issue of homelessness in veterans.  

#HomelessOxfordshire  

[1] Inside Housing