Former Wigan solider given new chance at life
A former soldier from Wigan spent almost a year living out of a tent in a churchyard after hitting rock bottom.
The shocking case of Stuart, whose name has been changed, was revealed by EDs Homes, the local charity turning around the desperate lives of some of those who have previously served the country on the front line.
Stuart survived for months in the makeshift accommodation but could not lead a fulfilling life or allow his children to visit such a precarious place to live.
The search for a suitable property was the final piece of the jigsaw for Stuart, who had a job offer and was ready to go back to work and take on the duties of being a father once more.
Finally, though, Stuart was able to have a roof over his head again thanks to EDs and its partnership with charity campaign Real Change Wigan and Leigh.
EDs Homes director Jason Lloyd says that for many former military personnel having stable accommodation can be the toughest part of returning to civvy street.
Mr Lloyd said: “Deposits are hard to get together at the best of times, but starting from zero it can seem impossible. Landlords often require extra reassurance that people without a tenancy history will be able to pay their rent, leaving people like Stuart even more excluded from good housing.”
Stuart had already worked with EDs to find somewhere to rebuild his life off the streets and a place had come up in the borough, but a deposit and month’s rent payment was required.
That was where the intervention by Real Change, which buys practical items for people in the borough affected by homeless, came in.
Launched in October, Real Change Wigan and Leigh has already created a fund big enough to end homelessness for Stuart and 10 other residents.
He said: “Getting into a place of my own was an emotional moment and I have already decorated the flat to feel like home. I’m enjoying spending time there with family when I’m not hard at work in my new full-time job. I’m very grateful for the help EDs gave me.”
More than half of the people Real Change has supported so far were in similarly precarious circumstances to Stuart, living in hostels or sofa surfing with different friends on a day-to-day basis.
The campaign has also funded items such as new ID allowing people to register for benefits and support to maintain tenancies and travel tickets so residents can get to training courses which will help them back into work.
Real Change is calling for more support from Wiganers, with all donations going into a single pot to allow bigger items to be bought. Visit www.realchangewiganandleigh.co.uk or www.edshomes.org.uk