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Ensuring Stoll’s Commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant – blog Ed Tytherleigh

Stoll is one of the UK’s oldest Veterans’ charities – the leading provider of support and housing for the Veterans’ community. Most people leaving the Armed Forces settle back into civilian life effectively, but for some, the challenges can prove overwhelming. Stoll is here to support those vulnerable Veterans in the greatest need and that is why the Armed Forces Covenant is a subject close to my heart. The Covenant is an enduring agreement between the people of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty’s Government and all those who Serve or have Served in the Armed Forces.

Stoll is absolutely committed to the Covenant; we have provided housing and support to vulnerable and disabled Veterans for 100 years and we continue to stay true to our mission. Stoll provides tailored support to meet the individual needs of Veterans from employment and life skills to domiciliary support to enable Veterans to remain at home, rather than have to move to a care setting.  A number of Stoll staff are also members of the Reserve Forces and Stoll accommodates their training and deployment wherever possible.

One of the other ways we are honouring the Covenant is by building 34 new homes for vulnerable and disabled Veterans to rent in Aldershot, the home of the British Army. The new homes are being built on the edge of a nature reserve in Aldershot to address the housing shortage faced by the nation’s ex-Service men and women. The new homes will be available to rent from Spring 2018.

The decision to provide accommodation in Aldershot follows the publication of Meeting the Housing and Support Needs of Single Veterans in Great Britain, a research project commissioned by Stoll and Riverside which highlighted Aldershot as an area of particularly high housing need for Veterans. Feeling part of a community is a vital issue for many Veterans and therefore the health and well-being activities which will be available at the new development will also be available to Veterans living in the area.

We are proud of the work we do to fulfil the Covenant and recently had the honour of hosting The Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO CBE. He had a tour of Stoll’s Fulham site which is home to over 150 Veterans and the centre of a network of charities offering services to Veterans. General Nugee was at Stoll to witness the charity recommit to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and support the Armed Forces Community.

This week we have also been delighted to host an international delegation including Veterans’ Ministers from around the world to meet Veterans in London. Ministers from the British Government, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand discussed the bespoke housing and employment support that helps ex-Servicemen and women lead independent lives. It is clear to me that with the right tailored interventions, ex-Service personnel can avoid the pitfalls that a small number of our Veterans still experience when they leave the structured life of the Armed Forces.

There is still a huge amount more for Stoll and other organisations within the sector to do, to ensure we are providing tailored support to vulnerable Veterans. One area which is particularly important to me and my colleagues is to ensure that Veterans receive advice and information at the point of transition out of the Forces. We need to do more to ensure that the people who are likely to struggle to adapt to civilian life can access bespoke support to meet their needs – whether that is in relation to housing, finances, health, employment or another vital area.

By providing the tailored support people need, we can prevent more unnecessary homelessness and help people readjust to civilian life more easily. That is the finding of new research funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). It shows that Stoll’s London Outreach Transition Service, the first ever service of its kind targeting these specific individuals, has been highly effective in helping vulnerable Service Leavers make a successful transition from the Armed Forces into civilian life. Stoll and FiMT are calling for Veteran services to be developed in other areas of the UK where there is a need to ensure the most vulnerable Service Leavers receive the health and welfare support they need. Alongside the research, we have published a joint Call To Action highlighting the importance of identifying vulnerable Service Leavers, making sure that they have the right information at the right time, and are offered appropriate, tailored support.

At Stoll we will continue to work with our partners to provide the vulnerable individuals leaving the Armed Forces with the vital housing and support they need. In doing so we will also be meeting our obligations to the Armed Forces Covenant.