Housing Options Scotland calls for help for Scottish veterans to find housing

Housing Options Scotland calls for help for Scottish veterans to find housing

According to a new report by Housing Options Scotland, help to find housing for Scottish veterans has never been more needed.

Housing Options Scotland is a charity supporting older people, disabled people and veterans to find their own homes.

The charity has said it was extremely flattering to be mentioned in the recent housing report issued by Charlie Wallace, the Scottish Veterans Commissioner. He produced this report as part of his ‘Positive Futures’ papers to highlight how finding housing can be challenging for veterans.

The report focuses on ‘transitioning’ veterans, who have recently left the services and are looking for housing. In the first instance, lack of knowledge and assumptions are a difficulty, particularly for Early Service Leaders (ESLs).

The report said: “Housing is still a top concern for service leavers whose sometimes unrealistic expectations of what they are reasonably entitled to, when coupled with an unfamiliarity with aspects of the civilian world, including housing, can mean that finding a home is not always the smooth process we would like to see for all.”

Housing Options Scotland has said that though information about civilian life is available in the forces, few service people will engage with it unless their departure is imminent. Thus, veterans requiring help are often dealing with an unexpected exit from the services and they find themselves ill-prepared for their transition, particularly if they have never lived independently before.

Olivia Lindsay, caseworker from Housing Options Scotland, has described it as “a difficult and confusing time for Service leavers, especially if they are still living in Forces accommodation and have little experience of the housing system”.

The shortage of appropriate housing is also highlighted in the report. The report reads: “Many of the support bodies I spoke to identified a lack of suitable accommodation, in particular, four-bedroom homes for larger families and one bedroom homes for single people. They also highlighted an issue with a lack of accessible housing for veterans living with physical disabilities and homes suitable for those living with PTSD, (i.e. those who need somewhere quiet).”

Housing Options Scotland has a dedicated service for veterans called ‘Military Matters’ and they are very grateful to receive funding for this from both the Scottish Government and the Veterans Foundation.

The charity has seen client numbers double in the pandemic and this service has never been more needed. As the Commissioner proposes in his report, veterans would benefit from an integrated service, something which The Veterans Scotland Housing Group have been exploring.

Housing Options Scotland added: “A Scottish Veterans Housing Alliance - a coalition of veterans housing and support charities based in Scotland – would work together to maximise the availability of appropriate and affordable housing for Service leavers and veterans and provide a coordinated access route into necessary support with housing options, applications and ongoing advice needs.”

The Commissioner’s report is a very comprehensive study of veterans’ housing and it is useful to anyone working with service leavers. As the demand grows, Housing Options Scotland look forward to helping more veterans and working with the other charities in the sector.

Olivia Lindsay concluded: “At Housing Options Scotland we are proud to help Service leavers navigate this tricky time, offering advice and support on the housing options that are available to them.”

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