TWO charity projects are underway to help change the lives of homeless veterans in the UK, spearheaded by a local man with a painful connection to the cause.
Hamworthy-based Helping Homeless Veterans UK is in the process of converting an empty property into six individual flats to provide temporary accommodation to veterans in need.
The flats, currently being furnished, will be situated above the old Royal British Legion Club in Winton.
Funded solely by a £75,000 grant from BCP Council and a £30,000 grant from Talbot Village Trust, the homes will keep veterans from being forced onto the street until they can find a steady income and a home of their own.
This project will be run in conjunction with another initiative called the Garrison Project at Rivo’s Hub in Hamworthy, where veterans who are struggling can meet up and learn transferable skills in vehicle maintenance and mechanics.
Charity CEO and Dorset Hero Award winner David Wood described the ventures as a “lifeline” for veterans in need and is motivated by his own devastating experiences.
David’s mother and brother both served in the military. However, they struggled with their mental health and would both ultimately take their own lives.
Set to make a difference, David told the Echo: “The idea is that we’ll use this as temporary accommodation for veterans instead of hotels or hostels. In December, we spent over £9k helping 17 veterans and nearly all was spent on hotel costs.
“This build project is unique in that we lease our building for £500 per month, so the costs are dramatically lower and it will eventually become self-sufficient.
“We bring them all together, veterans being veterans to bounce off each other – just like when they were in the forces. Then we’ll be there to address and help with any mental health issues they may have.
“Over 100 veterans took their own lives last year and we want to prevent this by offering the facilities at The Garrison Project.”
The charity is run completely by volunteer’s basis and has helped almost 200 veterans find a home in its 28-month history.
In addition to the current projects, the charity have been gifted a brand new hand built AC Cobra car by Tech Autos of Poole. The car, worth more than £100,000, will be given away by the charity to a lucky winner of a raffle. Eight thousand tickets are available to be sold for £20 each.
David added: “The idea behind this is, of course, someone could win car but even if they don’t win at least they know the £20 they donated is going to help veterans so it’s a win win situation.”
The Garrison Project is also self-funding, thanks funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Aviva. No public donations will be used on these projects, instead being used for the rehousing process.
Visit hhvuk.org/veterans-build-project for more information.