Veterans charity and police join forces to combat homelessness
In a unique partnership Veterans Aid and the City of London Police have joined forces to identify and support ex-servicemen and women who are at risk of becoming homeless.
CEO of Veterans Aid Dr Hugh Milroy said, “This initiative is aimed at preventing homelessness among ex-servicemen and women. Nationwide there are very few genuine veterans sleeping rough, but we are not complacent and one day on the streets, for one veteran, is one too many. A great deal of time is wasted when well-meaning custody staff reach out to organisations unable to provide appropriate and timely care - many of whom ultimately pass clients on to us for solutions. I applaud the City of London Police for its vision in partnering with us in this way and am confident that, together, we will stop the spirals of decline that can turn misfortune into meltdown and, by timely intervention, help keep vulnerable veterans off the streets. This is a first, but we are actively working with other police services to roll out the partnership nationwide.”
Sergeant Richard Scullion of the City of London Police said, “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Veterans Aid, an organisation that has built such a fantastic reputation in providing care and support to former members of HM armed forces.
“Policing is not just about enforcing the law, its founding principles are the preservation of life and the prevention of crime. Sadly, statistics show that being homeless can reduce your life expectancy and increase the chance of becoming a victim of crime. By partnering with Veterans Aid, we can help those who have served their country and for whatever reason have fallen on hard times. I would like to thank Veterans Aid for all the work they do, and I would encourage other police forces to join this initiative”.
The partnership is built around a poster campaign that directs police officers to the charity, urging them to ‘Approach, Engage and Advise’ individuals who confirm that they are veterans. It will be displayed in custody suites and in City of London Police offices so that officers can identify those who have served in HM Armed Forces and guide them accordingly.
This interaction can take place in situations where individuals have already been brought into contact with the police, or result from casual encounters while officers are on patrol.
The Veterans Aid Operations Team includes a dedicated Criminal Justice Outreach Officer, Paul Ellis, who will liaise with the police to ensure that when veterans at risk are identified the charity can act swiftly to offer support where appropriate. Paul, a former Metropolitan Police Officer, said, “This is exactly the type of support that is needed for a busy modern police service.”
This year the charity celebrates its 90th year of continuous activity to prevent and address homelessness in the ex-service community.