New hotline for homeless veterans launches across UK amid government plan to end rough sleeping this year

4 July 2023, 00:23 | Updated: 4 July 2023, 10:51

Government estimates suggest veteran homelessness will end this year
Government estimates suggest veteran homelessness will end this year. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A new hotline has launched across the UK which aims to help the government in its aim to end rough veteran sleeping in 2023.

The policy, dubbed Op FORTITUDE, was launched by Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer, who previously vowed to end homelessness amongst Armed Forces veterans this year on LBC's Breakfast show with Nick Ferrari.

Projections previously suggested rough veteran sleeping could be eradicated by the end of the current Parliament, in 2024, but the government believes new funding will speed up this process.

As part of today's package, the government has pledged £8.55 million, which will aim to bring "wraparound support services" to help around 1,300 veterans.

Johnny Mercer doesn't want to see a 'single' involuntarily sleeping rough homeless veteran

The veteran hotline will aim to give rough veteran sleeps a single contact number they can use if they ever need to.

They will be offered a vast array of support, the government says, including referrals to nearby housing options and charities.

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Mr Mercer said: "Everyone deserves a place they can call home, not least those who have served their country.

"Today’s launch is a huge milestone in ending veteran homelessness and a clear demonstration of this government delivering on its promises.

"There is a lot of great work being done across the country to help veterans get the right level of support.

"Op FORTITUDE is about bringing all of this together, so any veteran has a clear pathway to get local and customised care.”

"Transitioning from the armed forces remains a challenge for some.

"The programme has been designed to support 1,300 vulnerable veterans over two years across almost 60 housing complexes, ranging from apartment blocks to shared houses."

Nine housing providers are expected to be able to take calls from struggling vets from around September.

Johnny Mercer aims to end veteran homelessness

Lee Buss-Blair, Operations Director, Riverside Group added:"Riverside are honoured to be the organisation chosen to deliver the Op FORTITUDE pathway.

"Its mission, to end veteran homelessness, is one that we are extremely passionate about.

"Every veteran, including the most vulnerable, has the potential to make a positive contribution to their communities if given the right support. Ultimately our goal is to ensure that these veterans receive this support and can go on to fulfil their potential.

“This is the first initiative designed to end veteran homelessness, and while the task is a big one, we think that the levels of veteran rough sleeping are such that it is one that we believe can be achieved with collaboration across many sectors.

“There are still many things that we do not know, including the level of demand we will be faced with. But Op FORTITUDE is an opportunity for us to develop a clear picture of the level of need which will support us to make sure that the veteran sector is structured to be able to effectively respond."