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Veterans Aid is a UK charity providing immediate, practical support to ex-servicemen and women in crisis, regardless of age, ethnicity, rank, religion or length or service. (Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, RAF or Merchant Navy).
It operates from just two locations: a Drop-in Centre/Head Office in Central London (Victoria) and a residential home (New Belvedere House Hostel) in East London (Stepney).
The charity's core business is averting and/or addressing crisis, particularly where it threatens to lead to homelessness. Its Welfare to Wellbeing © pathway is a commitment to providing long-term, sustainable solutions to destabilising life problems.
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Veterans Aid was established in 1932 (designated originally as EFC – The Embankment Fellowship Centre) as a direct response to the homelessness caused by poverty and unemployment among the ex-service community in London.
It was founded by Mrs Gwendoline Huggins, whose husband was Adjutant of The Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1932–35. Deeply moved by the sight of men who had served their country sleeping on the capital’s streets and along the Thames Embankment, she decided to do something practical to remedy it. This led to the opening in January 1932 of H10, a canteen and recreation room for destitute ex-services personnel in Lambeth, South London.
In 2007 the charity was renamed Veterans Aid, and its remit extended from homelessness to all issues affecting veterans in crisis.
In general terms, all the charity’s activities revolve around helping ex-servicemen and women in crisis. Specifically it deals with all the factors that contribute to crisis, especially those leading to homelessness. Because homelessness is considered both a cause and an effect of dysfunction VA's activities are diverse. The charity's aim is to restore veterans in crisis to a point where they can sustain productive, independent living.
Veterans Aid's interventions are rapid and practical. In terms of rough sleeping its commitment is to 'No First Night Out'. The charity will provide food, new clothing and safe accommodation immediately to those seeking, and qualifying for, its help.
Subsequent interventions can include counselling, addiction treatment and rehabilitation, debt management and, where appropriate, access to education, retraining or the acquisition of a new skill. Help is given to identify employment opportunities and, when veterans are considered ready, help is provided to source appropriately decorated and furnished homes.
The charity’s relatively flat structure, open-door policy, extensive network of contacts and well-tested processes ensure that rapid and informed decision-making is routine. Its achievements have been acknowledged by an Institute for Turnaround Award.
In 2014, The Centre for Social Justice commended Veterans Aid's Welfare to Wellbeing model:
"The model of 'moving from welfare to well-being', as proposed by Hugh Milroy and Veteran's Aid is important example of what can be achieved. (…). Veterans Aid programme of proactive intervention coupled with long-term commitment and support is designed to not only get veterans into housing, but into sustainable, long-term employment, and has enjoyed great success. The CSJ applauds this effective model and recommence its adoption for other charities engaged in all aspects of this complicated transition experience."
- "War artist's cartoon resurrected by Veterans Aid in WW1 centenary year". Veterans Aid. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
- Veterans Aid History Archived October 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "History - Veterans Aid". Veterans Aid. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
- "What we do - Veterans Aid". Veterans Aid. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
- Justice, The Centre for Social. "Doing our duty? Improving transitions for military leavers - The Centre of Social Justice". The Centre of Social Justice. Retrieved 2017-01-05.