//Mayor offers improved support for homeless veterans in South Yorkshire

Published 2nd October 2019 at 9:48am

Our Armed Forces personnel play a crucial role in protecting our way of life, but too many veterans can face challenges when leaving the Forces.

That’s why Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, supported by the four South Yorkshire authorities and the South Yorkshire Armed Forces Covenant Group, is using £90,000 of funding from the Government’s Homelessness Veterans Fund to support those veterans who find themselves in need of help.

The funding will be used to extend the work of the Help 4 Homeless Veterans charity, based in South Yorkshire, which currently helps the homeless armed forces communities in Barnsley and Doncaster. The additional funding will enable the charity to extend its services to supporting people in Rotherham and Sheffield. Services will be available to all those who are homeless and have served in the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force.

Additional training will be provided for front line staff who support those who are homeless, ensuring consistency of support and information to veterans and their families. Work will also be undertaken to understand what the current gaps in help and support are and how these can be tackled.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “Most service leavers go on to achieve great things in civilian life, using the invaluable experience and transferable skills gained in the military. But as someone who had the honour of serving in the Armed Forces myself, I understand the challenges some people can face when leaving the Forces.

“That’s why I’m using the small amount of funding that has been provided by the Government to boost the work of an important charity based here in South Yorkshire.

“In one of the richest economies in the world, no one should be without a home, especially those who’ve risked their life serving our country. It’s time that we recognise our service men and women in a manner that befits their sacrifice and better support them in the transition from military to civilian life.”

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics earlier this week show that more than 720 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018 – representing the highest year-on-year increase since records began.

These figures follow the Big Issue’s No Homeless Veterans campaign that was launched last week. Their figures revealed that more than 1,700 homeless veterans were identified by local authority housing services making up 0.72% of homeless cases.  However, experts think more than 3,500 people are not accounted for in the figures.

Help 4 Homeless Veterans works to specifically help those homeless people who formerly served in the Armed Forces. The charity currently works with Barnsley and Doncaster councils to let homes to homeless veterans, and also works with private landlords to help veterans when social housing isn’t available.

Steve Bentham-Bates, Chief Executive for Help 4Homeless Veterans, said: “Help 4 Homeless Veterans charity was created in 2012 in Barnsley working with Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes.

“This successful model was used to expand our help engaging with Doncaster Council and St Leger Homes in 2016.

“We are delighted to learn our charity has been identified by the Sheffield City Region as a worthy recipient of funding to enable us to provide help to the most vulnerable veterans right across South Yorkshire.”