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EDITIONS
Friday, 8 November, 2002, 14:06 GMT
From ranks to rags
homeless people
Many homeless people are ex-servicemen
At least a quarter of people who leave the armed forces in the UK end up sleeping on the streets at some point after entering civilian life, according to research commissioned by the charity Shelter. Here are some of their stories.

David, 22, joined the army when he was 18, after being in care as a child.

But things did not work out for David in the Army.

He finally went absent without leave (AWOL) after being assaulted by other soldiers.


I felt isolated and depressed - I had no job, nowhere to live and no family to turn to

David
He was caught, and sentenced to serve time in the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) - a military prison in Colchester, Essex.

David said: "I was really worried about what would happen when I was discharged.

"I felt isolated and depressed. I had no job, nowhere to live and no family to turn to for support.

"I'd have ended up on the streets if it hadn't been for Shelter's hard work.

"Having someone there to talk me through how to get accommodation and to fill in the relevant paperwork helped a lot."

Peter Kerr in a London hostel
Peter Kerr has been homeless since leaving the Army 30 years ago
David worked with the Shelter Armed Forces Project while in the stockade, while Shelter liaised with David's local council to ensure he would have a home to go to when he was discharged in June 2002.

'One of lucky ones'

David now has a flat, which the Army Benevolent Fund is helping him to furnish.

Things are looking up for David, and he has started work again.

Rachel Fletcher, of the Shelter Armed Forces Project, said: "David is one of the lucky ones - Shelter was able to provide him with help and advice, and approach the council to make sure that he could get housing.

"But many people leaving the forces have gone onto the streets."

Ashley is 20 and lives in Devon.

He grew up in a care home and then - after a short time sleeping rough or on friends' floors - joined the Army.

While on leave he was convicted of affray and served three months in prison, followed by a short spell in the military prison for going AWOL.

Once discharged, he was homeless for some time and slept rough.

Edwin Linton in a homeless hostel
Edwin Linton, a former sergeant major, is now homeless

Ashley went to his local authority and asked for help finding a place to live, but they turned him down.

He slept rough until July this year, when he applied again at Shelter's suggestion, and was found accommodation under the Homelessness Act.

He has now been offered a council flat.

Andrew joined the services 10 years ago and served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kenya and Hong Kong.

Eventually he decided he wanted to leave and signed himself off.

While waiting for his discharge to come through, Andrew got into an altercation and was sentenced to spend time at the MCTC in Colchester.

He was married with three children and his wife was heavily pregnant with another.

She was given 93 days' notice to move out of their married quarters home.

His wife was eventually rehoused by the local council, but the marriage broke down and Andrew became homeless.

As a result he was unable to get a job.

Eventually Shelter and the Royal British Legion helped him to get and furnish a flat.

He has since got a job as a lorry driver and is very grateful for the help he was given.

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