Sadiq Khan in push with Veteran's Aid

Other | Wednesday 12th September 2018 | Cat

Last week, Sadiq Khan opened the charity Veteran's Aid newly refurbished and extended New Belvedere House, a residential facility for homeless UK veterans. The charities aim is to support veterans in getting off the streets and into housing as well as helping them find employment. Its work also aims to prevent rough sleeping from occurring in the first place.

New Belvedere House has a programme called ‘Welfare to Wellbeing’ which helps turn around the lives of homeless UK veterans by giving them a way out of rough sleeping. Each person that goes through the program will be treated as an individual with their specific personal needs addressed, focusing on independent living and supporting veterans in getting back into work or training.

Sadiq, who praised the charity for the work it carries out, will be investing £180,000 in the ‘Welfare to Wellbeing’ programme over the next three years. This is separate to the £1.6 million that was provided by City Hall towards the £8.2 million refurbishments of the facility that has been operating in Tower Hamlets for 45 years.

Since the establishment opened in 1973, New Belvedere House has accommodated 1,500 ex-service personnel to prevent their homelessness. It can now take up to 66 residents at a time and will be accepting people from all London boroughs. The average stay at the center is nine months with the support staff staying in touch after a client leaves to ensure they are doing well.

CEO of Veteran's Aid, Dr Hugh Milroy, said: “We already know that we’ve had a profound impact on reducing the numbers of UK veterans on the streets – particularly in London – and are breaking the cycles of dependency that keep them there. Our commitment is to making homelessness among veterans a thing of the past.”

However, rough sleeping is still a huge problem on the streets of London, although some reports show a slight drop in the number of rough sleepers seen by outreach last year compared to the year before. Dropping from 8,108 to 7,484 which is a decrease of 8 percent, the first of its kind in almost a decade rough sleeping rates in London are still at an unacceptable level.

Sadiq warned that the levels of rough sleeping are at crisis point and although last week the Government announced London will receive £12.4 million in 2019/20 for rough sleeping services, with £3 million of that sum being managed by City Hall, it's still not enough. In fact, Sadiq Khan has consistently stated that, “We’re doing everything we can with the resources we have, and while we welcome an extra £12 million from Government this week, we know we need over £500 million to stand a chance of truly helping everyone who finds themselves rough sleeping in the capital.”