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The Veterans’ Nomination Scheme: Julian Coates blog

As part of our blog series, this month we hear from Julian Coates, the scheme’s project manager. Julian has worked in social care for 22 years and has been with Stoll since October 2012.

The Veterans’ Nomination Scheme works in partnership with housing associations, local authorities and other Veterans’ charities to match accommodation with Veterans in need of housing. It is funded by the Royal British Legion. Through the scheme, Stoll arranges access to housing for Veterans who have been living in unsuitable accommodation. This includes people who are sleeping on a friend’s sofa, living in a hostel or are in supported housing. The scheme can also help find accommodation for Service Leavers who are making the transition to civilian life and is aimed mainly at single people, and couples without children, who would not normally be able to get a place in social housing.

“I love my job as I get to see first hand the impact that we have on those Veterans who really need our help and the positive change that we can make to their lives. I work with a fantastic colleague, Tania and our day largely consists of two things: taking calls from Veterans who are in urgent need of housing and need help and advice, and building relationships with housing providers across the country, telling them about the VNS and encouraging them to allocate properties to the scheme. The second point is crucial because it means that when someone needs a home, the team can call specific contacts who know in advance what we do and how desperate the situation often is. Only last week we were able to house a Veteran extremely quickly with a local council because we had an established relationship with the team there so they were aware of the urgency and acted accordingly.

The need for housing particularly in London, the South East and Birmingham is very real.  Demand in these areas outstrips the amount of accommodation available with typically about five Veterans waiting for the same flat. We currently have a waiting list of 100 Veterans seeking accommodation. For some Veterans finding secure, affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges of civilian life. This Scheme is a modern day response to a 100-year-old problem that dates back to Veterans returning from World War 1 struggling to find accommodation. Most of the demand comes from single people as it is generally harder for those without a family or dependents to find accommodation via local authorities.

We’ve already placed over 300 people in accommodation with 97% of the placements successful so it’s clearly working but much more still needs to be done. We owe this service to those who have loyally served our country, leaving the Forces can be for some, an extremely stressful time and finding a secure and safe home is often the first step in rebuilding a life.”

General Richard Dannatt, the former chief of the general staff, recently called for more social landlords to make accommodation available to Veterans: “We are grateful for the support from all the partners – but we need more housing associations and local authorities to join this innovative scheme. We would particularly like to hear from more landlords in Essex, East Anglia, the South East and London.”

One beneficiary of the Scheme, Neil* (name substituted to protect his identity), says: “For me, having somewhere to live was a huge turning point in my life. I was homeless, physically and mentally scarred by conflict, stuck in a rut and constantly moving around. The VNS broke that cycle for me and gave me the confidence to channel my efforts into creating a successful career and life for myself post-service.”
For more information on the VNS and to see if you are eligible, visit our website. If you are a housing provider with accommodation you could ring-fence for Veterans we would be delighted to hear from you at Stoll. You can contact us on 020 7385 2110 or