The systemic failure around homelessness can’t just be about money - Veterans Aid

Posted On: 
10th October 2018

Providing shelter without equipping vulnerable individuals with the means to remain there is setting people up for failure, says Veterans Aid.

It seems incredible that in 2018 we have homeless people dying on our streets and that, among those who are homed, there is a high level of recidivism. This systemic failure can’t just be about money.

Veterans Aid has been working to end homelessness for 86 years. The Welfare to Wellbeing© model that we operate has a 90% success rate and has ensured that the number of genuine veterans on the streets is tiny. There are more than enough facilities to cope and many projects have vacancies. 

Neil Coyle MP: Spare a little change, Gov? On World Homeless Day, Gov't must not walk on by

Last year we appropriately accommodated 136 clients without much difficulty (111 of these were prevention cases).  Our methodology isn’t a pilot project and the results are consistent.  The superficial thinkers and those in the system who seem to be very shy of change will say that this success is because we deal with soldiers and that they do as they are told. That is laughable.   

The focus of our daily work is prevention; we aim to stop veterans becoming street homeless through timely delivery of integrated and effective support services. Our Operations Team assesses clients’ needs in an holistic way,  but provision of safe shelter is key. 

In the short-term this frequently involves using hotels  while we source more suitable and appropriate longer term accommodation, work and/or other relevant support for the client. But the priority  is clear, despite the complex nature of the problems that clients present: ‘Where possible do not let the person fall onto the streets’. At this vital point in time, we don’t spend time focusing on the intricacies of the history involved but on taking immediate and practical action.

Our policy of ‘swift intervention aimed at prevention’ has been an area of investment - and it has paid dividends. We also have a huge variety of pathways into affordable and sustainable housing options and companies that will provide meaningful training and employment. For example,  BT employed four of our clients last week.  

For those who need more intensive support the average stay with Veterans Aid  is 9.5 months.  We have invested in providing quality facilities and quality support, hence the Charity’s consistent ability to get so many clients back to work and/or leading independent, sustainable and fulfilled lives. The aim is to actively break the cycle of homelessness and provide resilience through client empowerment.  

In the area of prevention, and in breaking the cycle of homelessness for those in our care, our guiding principle is to be holistic e.g. we look at housing, employment, family reconnection, addiction problems, health and fitness, personal sustainment through cooking and budgeting to ensure that the client can conduct their own lives to their own satisfaction.       

In short, we ensure that the client can sustain their new home which is affordable, safe, decent and provides the individual  with an environment that promotes resilience as opposed to vulnerability.  Providing shelter without equipping vulnerable individuals with the means to remain there is setting people up for failure.