A CHARITY that provides housing and support to vulnerable veterans has now helped 12,000 people find somewhere to call home.
Riverside Housing Group’s Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the ex-Services (SPACES) helpline took its first call from a veteran in 2000.
The Beacon in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, is one of SPACES’ centres and was opened by Richmond MP, William Hague in March 2012.
Riverside’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) area manager, Trevor Morris, himself a veteran with more than 22 years’ service, said: “The fact we’ve taken our 12,000th call says a lot about the demand and need for services like ours to support vulnerable veterans.”
The number of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has more than doubled in the past three years among those who have served in Afghanistan.
Mr Morris said: “One of our biggest achievements is pioneering this national helpline in partnership with the MoD. The helpline is much more in demand today than when it first went live.
“Any single veteran facing homelessness can call us no matter where they are serving.
“Once a veteran is given accommodation at our centres the team is focussed on ensuring a successful transition back into civilian life. This can include help with housing, health, counselling, training or jobs.”
The Beacon has 31 self-contained flats and facilities including a computer suite, gym, training kitchen and the Veterans Artisan Bakery.
The bakery is a specialist training centre designed to give vulnerable ex-Servicemen and women employment skills while using the therapeutic nature of bread-making.
Mr Morris said residents can live at the Beacon for a maximum of 18 months, and in that time staff and associated agencies work with each veteran to help secure permanent housing, provide independent living skills, improve health and well-being, deliver education and training, and access employment and further education.
The Beacon helps up to 70 veterans a year. A third suffered with PTSD or mental health issues, and a quarter suffered addiction issues. Around 50 per cent of veterans helped in 2013 were aged 18 to 25.
Any single veteran facing homelessness can call SPACES no matter where they are in the country on 01748-833797, 01748-830191, or 01748-872940.