By Robbie McAvenue, HOS volunteer
Housing Options Scotland’s latest project, ‘Military Matters Veteran Volunteering Program’, has been in the works since last November. Led by Development Worker Gina Wilson, the project is tailor-made to suit the needs of ex-military clients who are struggling to reintegrate into civilian life without the support, shelter and camaraderie that being in the Armed Forces offered them.
Due to the pandemic and the on-and-off restrictions it has brought about, not only has this tricky reintegration period been prolonged, but the search for suitable accommodation has also been made significantly harder. As a result, services like HOS have been in very high demand.
According to our 2020-2021 annual report, HOS now supports 266 Military Matters clients, a +127.4% increase on last year, and a staggering +255% increase on 2016.
For Gina, Military Matters is a project that hits particularly close to home. Having spent eleven years in the Armed Forces herself as both a regular and a reservist, she’s very familiar with the challenges many veterans face upon rejoining society.
Before joining HOS, Gina, along with her two daughters, were made homeless after moving back to the U.K. from Cyprus. Although they did stay at a friend’s for a while, household pets began to cause Gina’s daughter’s allergies to flare up, which meant the accommodation was no longer suitable for them.
Fortunately, after being put in touch with Housing Options Scotland’s Military Matters service, the project’s hands-on brokerage team managed to find Gina and her daughters a flat in Edinburgh, which they have been lucky enough to call home ever since.
Through lived experience, Gina is hoping she, and her team of volunteers, will be able to find common ground with Veteran clients.
“Military Matters Volunteering Program” is currently seeking a team of six volunteers who know what it’s like to have spent time in the Armed Forces. Gina hopes the shared experience between clients and volunteers can forge strong connections and allow for a better understanding of clients’ needs than the normal service would provide.
If you’re wanting to get involved, send Gina an email at email@example.com. You can also read more on the project here, on Gina’s story here, and if you’re a veteran seeking support, you can get in touch here.