City MP says more needs to be done to tackle homeless veterans crisis
BRITAIN still needs to do more to save homeless veterans from struggling to survive on the streets, a city MP has said.
Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary and former armed forces minister, said ‘huge efforts’ have been made in recent years.
But the Portsmouth North MP admitted there were people still falling between the cracks in the system.
Speaking to The News, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Huge efforts have been made by national and local government, and the third sector, in recognising some of the unique challenges our armed forces face, but there is more to be done.
‘We must also recognise that often it is not when they are transitioning out of the forces, but years later when they might need help.’
Her comments come as traumatised soldiers have hit out at the current system.
One Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, who asked not to be named, said he has been homeless for years.
The 37-year-old, who left the army in 2012 as an Acting Sergeant, said: ‘I feel totally let down and broken. If I had the chance to surrender my British passport and become another nationality, I would.
‘There isn’t the help out there at all. I feel totally cheated that I have served my country and this is how I’m repaid.’
Fellow soldier Terry Beale was also homeless after receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress.
But the Northern Ireland veteran was supported by Portsmouth City Council through the armed forced covenant, a scheme designed to help veterans and military personnel get extra support.
He was placed in a home in Portland Road, Southsea, last year which he says has helped him cope.
The 58-year-old – who volunteers at Portsmouth’s Veterans’ Outreach Support site – is now urging other homeless military heroes to come forward to find out what support is available.
He said: ‘Getting this help meant everything for me. I had no idea what would happen to me before then.’
Hampshire has one of the largest armed forces communities in the UK, with more than 85,000 people, including 60,000 veterans, living in the county – about 10 per cent of the national figure.
It is estimated that about 7,000 veterans live rough on streets across the UK.
Those in need of support are being urged to contact VOS, at The Royal Maritime Club, Queen Street, Portsea by calling (023) 9273 1767.