Why the Army Ben. fund needs your cash

This statistic has been known for some years. I think I'm right in saying that the problem is slightly worse for younger people than older people.

In my last year at Uni I lodged with a family, the mother a child psychotherapist and the father Head Honcho Psychiatrist for the Greater Manchester County (no, it wasn't to help me get through my finals..!  ;))

We used to discuss many issues (she would go down to Greenham Common of a weekend, he as a founding member of Medical Doctors Against Nuclear Weapons Campaign would go off to meetings - they were members of CND and were both Quakers - and I would go off on exercise - made for interesting Sunday evening discussions!).

One of the things that I learned that (at that time anyway - mid 80s) was that some 85% of SNCOs came from childrens homes. That some of her worst cases joined the Army - and that they, generally, were very successful whereas in civvy street they would probably have got into all sorts of bother.

This would also explain this some of 25%. We all know of the Aldershot Orphans - guys who stayed in Aldershot during Brigade stand down because they literally didn't have a home to go to.

I had a lad in my first troop who was adopted at the age of 5 from a childrens home - and then put back in by his adoptive parents aged 11 when the woman fell pregnant with her own child.......

It is without doubt a tragic situation for those concerned.
A very disturbing point which you have highlighted PTP.  It bears thinking about and if I'm honest (and selfish), I'd never considered it before mate.  Would it be worth asking the National Lottery for support?  I'm trying hard not to be synical when mentioning that organisation...or should we 'the serving' do something about it ourselves?  After all 'they' are still 'us'.


War Hero
Ineresting, but 85% of SNCOs from Childrens homes?  I think that as a statistic from 1880, maybe, but not 1980?!  I have served since 85 and can only think of 2 on my basic training of 100 coming from childrens homes.  Thinking of service since then, I can only think of a couple from homes, both SNCO or juniors.

I somehow feel that this is a massaged statistic from somebody with an alterior motive, a bit like the government unemployment stats or the Army Continuous Attitude Survey ;)
lol! Please don't think I am part of the Army Continuous Attitude thingy!! Yes, the stat is a bit jaw dropping. I did wonder if it might have had something to do with SNCOs in the mid 80s would have joined up in the 1960s, and perhaps boys were actively encouraged into the Army from there. It could also have not been SNCOs, but perhaps RSMs (and they obviously not being Army types would not have known the difference) which could perhaps have skewed the %.

However, I would tend to err on the side of believing them. That kind of statistic will be part of the overall reflection of British society as it was at that time, and of course, society is very much different now.

The psychology behind why these kids did so well in the Army was also interesting. Shenagh told me that it was because the Army gave these boys the very thing that had been missing in their lives up until then - not military training, but a Family, ie, a ready made band of brothers, a father figure (in the RSM),  clearly defined rules of behaviour consistently applied, public recognition of achievement (stripes, badges etc), a 'safe' environment in which they could make mistakes and be given the chance to learn from them.

These are the basic principles of sound parenting.

I wonder if we have lost something of that particular skill in basic training? But also, I wonder if BECAUSE most recruits don't come from such deprived backgrounds, they don't respond as well to the traditional military style of training.

Do you remember that thing about recruiting from prisons? Perhaps this is what we're trying to get back to...

Good point re. National Lottery Ma.

Without wanting to appear Right-wing etc etc etc, if Asylum seekers charities can enjoy large dollops of folding, then why can't a charity set up to care for Ex-Forces welfare?

After all, it's not just Army who are homeless.

I think the cash needs to be used from the moment the guy goes onto resettlement/short time etc.

If accomodation and employment/training can be implemented with these funds, then why not?

There also has to be a better welfare organisation. SSAFA, the Army Ben. Fund and the Legion all do a dynamite job, but I suspect recent demobbers, will want to try and work within a network of their contemporaries.

Let's face it, the command structure would all be there, and we ALL want to help ourselves by and large.

So really, we all need to do some investigation, to see what it is we can actually do for our oppos, or indeed, what's out there for them.

Identifying the people on the streets who are ex-forces, could be facilitated with a poster campaign, to get them to come in from the cold.

Yes I know that seems to discriminate against other civilians, but then again, I believe they will want to see themselves as a breed apart. If an organisation existed, that knew exactly how they thought, that they understood, and understood their PRIDE, which is one of the reasons, that so many do not seek help, then we could well have the start of something..

....and without going into detail, I know exactly what it's like, especially in the depths of winter.

So the next time you see a homeless person, just ask yourself, are they ex-forces?




War Hero
How about assiting some of them by allowing limited use of MQ's that have been empty for long periods of time?  Could be tricky, but still, if planned well could be an option.
Well the problem there, seems to be there aren't enough MQ's? Can someone with more knowledge comment on this?

However, there are several MOD bases in a good state of repair.West Raynham springs to mind for example.
So if you could have those buildings inhabited on a "short term let" then why not, if they're not being used?

Ma, you probably know more on this

I can't profess to be any great authority on the matter of MQ's (I've always had my own place).  

I know that they sold off a load of old dilapidated MQs to Annington Homes, in York, Strensall, Catterick, Colchester, Aldershite and Tidworth I think, but they were replaced by new style MQs.  Annington refurbished the 'old ' MQs and flogged them off.  Squaddies got first knock and a discount.  The development is an ongoing concern and it is rumoured, that Annington may rent some of the MQs back to HM Forces as there is a shortage of MQs.  

There were rumours (there's that word again) that several local and neighbouring county housing authorities had their eyes on the Annington set up, with a view to buying and then renting to non service families (the sh*te that they want out of there hair basically), but that has yet to materialise.

I think that you're more than aware mate, that housing throughout the country is in shortage, hence the outlandish costs of rent and the high property markets (I'm not complaining about the latter).  

What about old RAF bases etc? (those you've never heard of like RAF Biggles in the Wold, etc).  The Government seem to find them easily enough when they want to house several hundred immigrants?  

Ex squaddies are used to living in 'the block', they could provide 3 square a day and how about the British Legion setting up more 'work shops' within the facilities?  Maybe the inconsiderate b*stards at the National Lottery would kindly consider giving the RBL some money towards it?  

I pay one days wage annually towards the Regimental Association, as do most if not all of us.  The money is meant to go towards those ex who are down on their luck, through non interest loans (they have to apply first) My daily wage is enough to feed and house some poor bugger for a week and then some.   What if the Army (and Crab Air, Pugwash & the Royals, if they have a similar fund) were to redirect even one years worth of that money to help those homeless ex serving?  

I would imagine that such a sum of money would be enough to set up several centres, incorporating accommodation, feeding, training facilities etc.  Who knows, some of them might just want to join up again?

We could be seen as helping our own and perhaps reversing the retention problem to a greater or lesser degree?

What about the Regimantal Associations......what the are they doing...are they aware of the plight of their ex members? (I'll not give my true opinion on this)

There you are PTP............problem solved!   Vote Ma in the next elections.  Ma_Sonic.......man of the people!


I am astonished. As was said earlier I had never really thought about it before. It really shames me to think that so many of my former comrades in arms are in such dire straits and nothing appears to be happening to prevent it or help them! Surely as a nation we owe so much more than this (85 fcuking% are ex-army!) to those that have served?!

Is there recognition of this problem within the service? If not why not? And what can we do to help?
I know how difficult it is to adjust to civvy life, happened to me.

Left after 10 years from juniors to grown up army. On leaving took everybody at thier word and was ripped off when working overseas. Had a posession order on the house, pride wouldn't let me speak to parents etc, didn't even have 50p for a can of food for my dog.

An ex colleague gave the british legion a call, a chap came round made me feel at ease, within 30 mins he had called his boss, raised a cheque and cleared the mortgage arrears, arranged for a £300 shopping trip for the family etc etc.

Regimental subs etc  is by far the cheapest and best insurance policy you can ever carry.

Over the following 18 months I picked myself up and went into business for myself. One of the biggest buzzes and proudest moments was giving back the £4500 they had GIVEN me.

Its all to easy to fall flat on yer fud, don't know what preperations they make now for the lads leaving.

Six years on things are cushty and business thriving but it could have been very different
That's central to the point I'm trying to make Doh_Nut.

An ex-colleague helped. You networked. Which is the best way to help these guys and girls. Perhaps, when questioned, the agencies will say the same thing? "If they come forward, we will help, but, we have no pro-active arm, that can seek them out"?

Nice idea from Ma, re. subs.

The news coverage, from one years worth of subs being devoted to homeless ex-forces would be immense...

Line_Grunt, what's your feeling on that?

Oh, and here's the link that tells you where all the MQ's went.... http://www.defence-estates.mod.uk/disposals/modsurplussites.htm
There are several, very difficult, issues that factor into this situation.

The ex-forces who are homeless have much deeper and more fundamental problems than just not being able to find an address to live at. They have deep rooted psychological problems. Those that leave the Forces who encounter difficulties, but who are basically sound in mind, can be helped by mates, the Legion and by the (occasionally useful - I say no more than that) Welfare System.

What we are looking at here are people whose fragile mental and emotional systems were given support and strength by the military structure and culture (as I described in my earlier post). But I bet quite a few of these cases didn't perform adequately as soldiers (if they had, they would probably have stayed in, gone on courses, been promoted eventually etc etc) and perhaps for some of them, they didn't feel comfortable within the military.

Some of the reasons they may have felt uncomfortable was because they were being forced to address their own fears, terrors, inadequacies, through the normal process of field exercises, barrack room banter (which can be incredibly brutal!! I read some of the banter on this site and I just shake my head!! And you guys think it's funny - bizarre).

Do you see what I'm driving at here? These guys (and I suspect that the majority are men) need an awful lot of help. This is not to say that we, serving and ex-serving, haven't a role to play. Just thinking off the top of my head, a number of 'half way' houses, partly funded by the Legion, partly by Govt, partly through Regtl Assocs, where individuals identified as vulnerable could stage through on their way to a civvy existence. These could be manned by a combination of professionals and volunteers like us, who could act as mentors and just someone to talk to, who understands where they have just come from.

Because when you go into civvy street, you have to reverse a very powerful socialisation process that the military put you through to get you to fit in (OK, some of us resisted that the whole way, but I know, even now, that I have been irrevocably changed by having served - I then lived with it, married it and so felt like I'd never left - and even I found it difficult to adjust back into civvy street for a while). This is hard for mentally stable people, think how difficult it is for people who hated what they were before they joined (and perhaps still do).


This is not a new statistic guys.  It was common knowledge when I attended an RCMO course a couple of years back.  Dare I say that it is one more iron in the "retention golf bag".  

You can almost identify the individuals who sign off who may end up on the streets.  Invariably he is single, comes from a broken home, has no clear exit strategy and thinks something will come up after staying with one of his parents for a while.

Single soldiers leaving the service can be found temporary accommodation through the service, but I doubt there are sufficient of them in the right location to be anywhere near enough.
Just wanted to add my voice of support for an enhanced leaving scheme for the armed forces.  It seems a pity that all the surplus quarters were flogged to Annington, as they could have quite easily become homes for essential public sector workers - eg firemen, police, nurses and teachers, rather than generating huge profits for Annington.  To add to that, maybe the LSAP could be enhanced, so that soldiers would be encouraged to buy properties at preferable rates, either using the MOD or a Services Housing Association.  That way, at the end of a career, there is at least bricks and mortar.

By the way, there was a huge drama at Arborfield the last time quarters were flogged off.  Loads of civvies camped out for weeks on end to purchase the army properties.  On the day, there was a near riot as the military chaps all turned up to buy the properties.  Some civvy tipped off the local MP - John Redwood, who came down and stuck his neck in.  It ended up with guys (some that had flown from Germany/Cyprus) there to purchase properties being turned away.  The irony is that the civvies later put in a petition to get the military banned from the Spar shop on the patch, as they found their presence to be intimidating.... unfortunately for them, we owned the Spar!
Absolutely sickening situation.  There's a statistic which is being bandied about claiming that the average life expentancy of an ex-squaddie is in his forties.

Now I dunno how accurate this is or from where it's came but it frightening.

I reckon Spanner has hit on an important point about LSAP.  Around 90-odd % of the homeless ex servicemen are ex-army.  I reckon if the army weren't effed around with stupidly restrictive LSAP age limits these figures might not be so bad.

Quite frightening really.

I must add though - I dunno why so many end up in London.  Hardly the place to be able to restart your life or be given compassion!!


I have a couple of questions about this, exactly who are these people on the streets, are they brave comrades in arms fallen on hard times?, or just the wasters the Army got rid of, and how long did they serve anyway. I would suggest that anyone who has served in the last five odd years cannot have failed to see the wealth of support lines and confidential lines in Soldier magazine etc.

Yes i have sympathy with those that have gone through a traumatic time and are affeced by it ( again how have they slipped through the recent safety nets, after Op grapple 3 I was put in front of the trick cyclist along with all my collegues)"

If they were getting out why didn't they see what was on offer, seem's a simple choice to me Homeless or Army (food+warmth+money etc).

Again let me repeat if you were before the recent tree hugging then I have every sympathy, but these days, come on, there are safety nets whatever your problem, (not to mention suing the Army for something as well !!!)

Yes it is a tragic situation, however it seems to me that if a 1/4 of the homeless are forces why have the ABF got £60 mill in their coffers (2001 Annual report).

I'm not unsympathetic to genuine problems, i just don't care about life's wasters whatever they used to do.


War Hero
i just don't care about life's wasters whatever they used to do.

A pity.  :(

Another very frustrating angle on the ABF is that it is a charity for the Army, and yet we cannot be seen to fund raise for it, or missapropriate military equipment or estate for the  benefit of raising money for our charity. Commanding Officers do get round this and quite right that they do.

The ABF does sterling work and long may they continue to provide support to those who fall on hard times.

Mr Happy

I've heard this stat some years ago and I have a limited sympathy.  

It's not a good thing but ex colleagues who have slept rough before know that sleeping rough isn't the end of the world and there are support elelments to get them back on their feet.  I'm sure the Salvation army helps push ex-forces guys in the directions of the specific help groups, etc.  

So if the 25% stat is correct, I would suggest that as a percentage of longterm streetpersons our colleagues are probably a much smaller percentage.  Hell, even I've slept rough for a few nights because of being thrown out of one accomodation address but it wasn't as if it was going to be a longterm thing and the situation got sorted.


Below is an article from 'The Times' on Mon 21 Apr; if you can't be bothered to read it then the basis is that The Prince of Wales has set up an organisation to help find homes fro servicemen who sleep rough.

I think it is terrible the number who are homeless; remember that it is easy to join either the ABF or RBL and even easier to make a donation.

THE Prince of Wales has set up a new organisation to help to find homes fit for heroes after expressing “dismay and alarm” at the number of ex- servicemen who sleep rough.
He believes that the “finest Armed Forces in the world” have again demonstrated their excellence in Iraq, but that society often lets them down when they enter civilian life.

The new venture, funded by the Prince’s Business in the Community charity with help from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Training for Life charity and the Ministry of Defence, began operating in London last month as British forces were invading Iraq. Already the Ready For Work Programme has helped 38 former members of the Armed Forces.

According to the charity Shelter and Downing Street’s social exclusion unit last November, one in four homeless people is a former serviceman. The Government estimates that about 20,000 former members of the Armed Forces are sleeping rough or staying in hostels and squats.

The charity Crisis has suggested that the true figure could be as high as 100,000 if those living in temporary accommodation or bedding down on friends’ floors are taken into account. Some complain that local authorities give higher priority on their housing lists to former prisoners or asylum-seekers.

One recent survey showed that 264 Falklands veterans have committed suicide, nine more than were killed in the conflict. Those who have seen military action often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition once known as shell shock. A high proportion also have drug and alcohol problems, while still more do not know how to live independently after growing up in local authority care.

The Prince of Wales has sought to avoid political controversy since the leaks of letters he sent to Tony Blair and Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor, last year opposing the proposed ban on foxhunting and attacking “politically correct” policies. Although his latest intervention is supported by ministers, it is understood to reflect his private criticisms of successive governments for failing to do enough to help former servicemen.

The Prince has not sought publicity for his new venture, which has included writing directly to Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, and holding meetings at Highgrove with MoD officials. The Prince, who is Colonel-in-Chief of several regiments, has previously demonstrated his interest in the subject by visiting a West London housing block run by the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation, where two dozen exservicemen found accommodation.

On this visit 18 months ago he expressed shock that so many former members of the forces were homeless, and argued for more help to prepare them for civilian life.

The Ready for Work programme offers advice on finding housing and jobs, as well as counselling and personal development training. It has been visited by Sir Kevin Tebbit, the Permanent Secretary at the MoD, and Lieutenant-General Anthony Palmer, the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.

Patrick Lyster-Todd, a former Navy officer who is co-ordinating the programme, said that he had dealt with ex-servicemen who had seen action in Northern Ireland and Kosovo: “Many servicemen are suffering from stressrelated illnesses which were not recognised when they left the Armed Forces. A large number feel lonely and isolated when they come out of the services.”

A spokeswoman for St James’s Palace said: “The Prince has been deeply concerned about this issue since visiting hostels and discovering that there were so many servicemen living in them.

“He has always had a deep concern for the welfare of the Armed Forces and, while he knows a lot of work has already been done, he was anxious to see whether his charities could assist.”

After the wars

Accommodation for ex-servicemen was first given at the Army and Navy hospitals in Chelsea (1682) and Greenwich (1691)
Florence Nightingale led the drive for trained nursing during the Crimean War
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association was founded in 1885, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society four years later. They merged in 1997 as SSAFA Forces Help
The British Legion (1921) adopted artificial poppies to raise funds and provide jobs



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