One in ten of charity’s clients are ex-forces

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Figures provided by Worthing Churches Homeless Projects estimate that one in ten people the charity works with are ex-forces – the charity has worked with more than 500 people in the last six months.

Graeme Bellwood spent six-and-a-half-years serving in the RAF and said problems tended to stem from the reintegration back into civilian life.

“There are huge problems because it’s a completely different type of life. I personally didn’t have a problem but I know many of my friends had serious trouble adapting to civilian life,” he said.

Rachel Blair, community fundraiser for WCHP, added: “We have definitely seen that through the projects. Going from having a timetable and meals provided throughout the day to organising yourself can be tough for people. It’s a change in structure.”

Before he became homeless, Graeme had never had a CV as he had always been head-hunted for work.

“When you have never been involved in this kind of situation it’s a very fast learning curve, such as how to deal with housing benefit for example, or Jobseeker’s Allowance.”

Bob Chalcraft, poppy appeal organiser for the Worthing branch of the Royal British Legion, said the charity had previously carried out a sweep across the south coast in the summer for homeless ex-servicemen.

The sweep, carried out by the RBL Welfare team, started in Cornwall before moving East along the coast.

Bob said: “It’s amazing how many ex-servicemen they found.

“For years you’ve got nothing to worry about. They supply you with your food, your clothes and your wages and when they come out they might not know how to cope..

“They should get more help, it is offered to them when they get out but you can’t help them all. They go their own way; they feel so isolated and alone.”

Janet Goldsbrough-Jones, chair of Worthing British Legion, added: “It is easier for ex-servicemen to fall into homelessness. Although they are doing a job that is very dangerous their lifestyle is protected.”

In addition to working with ex-serviceman, the charity has also helped others from careers not usually associated with someone who is homeless.

Rachel said: “We have had people using our services from every walk of life from architects, teachers, and business owners to builders, chefs and shop assistants.”

Relationship breakdown has been cited by WCHP as the most common cause of homelessness. It includes divorce, flat-mates falling out, bereavement or a family dispute.

WCHP has 57 members of staff and more than 200 volunteers.

It costs the charity around £1.7million a year to operate, with the fundraising team needing to provide more than £500,000 a year.