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NHS housing veterans to help with psychological treatments

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NHS housing veterans to help with psychological treatments

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Health

Soldiers Soldiers

The NHS has launched a scheme in the North West to support veterans with housing, after clinicians reported that psychological treatments for ex-forces member are more effective if problems such as homelessness and poor housing are dealt with first.

The 'Live At Ease' programme helps veterans and their families to find alternative housing, access housing benefits and social housing services and get legal support for housing disputes.

Housing problems are the second biggest concern amongst veterans, with 13% telling the Royal British Legion they had recently experienced housing difficulties, such as problems with home maintenance or accommodation that is inappropriate for their needs.

Homelessness is also widespread amongst veterans, with a survey by Homeless Link finding that half of all homeless day centres in England had worked with ex-forces members.

Mental health conditions are increasingly common amongst veterans, as is drug and alcohol abuse, debt and family breakdown.

Sharif Gulsher had nowhere to live after leaving the army. He said: “At first I stayed on friends’ sofas but then I began to sleep in cardboard boxes and skips. I wasn’t able to go home as my parents were strict Muslims and they cast me out when I became a Christian. If Live At Ease had been around then I would have been able to find a home much quicker.”

Sharif now volunteers for Live At Ease and has recently helped homeless veterans living on the streets in Preston.

Christopher Harrison could no longer afford to pay his mortgage after leaving the Royal Marines, so moved into rented accommodation that is now unsuitable due to a back injury. He said: “When I first asked my landlord to adapt my house he refused. What I really need is a bungalow but the council won’t put me on the list because I’m 58 and not yet 60.”

Live At Ease is now helping Christopher to find more suitable housing.

Mike True, head of service at Live At Ease, said: “Around one quarter of all the veterans we speak to need help with housing. It represents a major need amongst the ex-service community. We are keen to work with more social landlords in the North West to help tackle this need and support any ex-forces tenants they have with other problems such as substance misuse, debt and unemployment.”

As well as providing housing support, Live At Ease helps veterans and their families to find jobs and training, overcome money problems, beat drug and alcohol addiction and work through family problems.

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