Veterans Supported Back to Civvy Street
Former Rifleman Sam Price is celebrating his first anniversary living in his South Shields home and is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family.
Just last year, Sam was homeless, living in a tent in Oldham, having lost his job and experienced a bereavement.
The 28-year-old veteran contacted South Tyneside Homes' Armed Forces Outreach Service and within days, he was brought to the North East and supported into accommodation.
Sam was given access to the Housing Register for a two-bedroomed property so that he could regain shared access to his two children.
Sam said: "I got in touch with the Armed Forces Support Officer, and he got me a bus ticket up here and told me he would sort the rest.
"I wouldn't be here without the help I received. I'm living in a two-bedroomed house which means I can have my children as much as I want, I'm working again and looking forward to Christmas at home.
"Coming out of the Army was a struggle, going from being a soldier to the sudden lack of structure makes it really hard to adjust."
The team works with a range of partners including health, social services, the British Legion, HMP Service and armed forces charity, SSAFA to support and engage with veterans, helping them access training, education, employment and funding opportunities.
Peter Bill was also supported by the service, being moved out of unsuitable accommodation and into a resettlement property in Jarrow.
The 49-year-old, an ex-Royal Artillery soldier, has mobility issues and was struggling living in a house of multiple occupation.
He said: "I was in a basement flat and was having to be helped by other residents to get to the bathroom on the floor above.
"My sister contacted the Armed Forces officer who helped with my housing application and accessing benefits.
"I'm now in a ground floor property and have a support network around me, as well as more privacy. I'll have a year in this place before moving to somewhere more permanent.
"I'm really grateful for the support I've received, I feel so much more confident and settled."
South Tyneside Homes, in conjunction with South Tyneside Council, has a dedidctaed block of furnished flats available for affordable rent to servicemen and women as they leave the forces.
The 'move-on' scheme, in Laygate, South Shields, was developed to provide veterans with support to enable them to progress into a more independent life and employment, education or training.
South Tyneside Homes is also trialling accommodating veterans in dispersed properties in the community.
Cllr Ed Malcolm, Chair of the South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum, said: "We are committed to supporting the men and women who have served their country.
"We know that it can be a big adjustment coming out of the army and settling back into civillian life.
"Having a place to live, in a supported environment, can help ex-services personnel manage that transition and get on the right track to live an independent life on civvy street."
Targeting support to make things fairer is one of the Council's ambitions to help realise its 20-year vision.