Glasgow & West Scotland

New veteran facility opens in Glasgow's east end

Bellrock Close development
Image caption Bellrock Close aims to help struggling veterans with the transition to civilian life

A £6.7m housing development for UK military veterans has opened in Glasgow's east end.

The Duke of Gloucester officially opened the Bellrock Close development, a new 51-flat complex in Cranhill.

The facility, run by the charity Scottish Veteran Residences (SVR), aims to help struggling veterans with the transition to civilian life.

In 2012/2013, official figures showed that 1080 ex-service people across Scotland made homeless applications.

The applications were made to local authorities. 800 of them were assessed as priority homeless.

The housing development provides training, education, employment and recreation facilities for vulnerable veterans, many of whom are young men who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The facility includes 21 affordable rental homes which are exclusively available to ex-armed forces members and their families.

It also has housing where veterans struggling to cope can live independently but with support.

SVR also provides housing support services for veterans in Edinburgh and Dundee.

Image caption Former soldier David Timmins told the BBC that the facility is the first of its kind

'Homeless and unemployed'

Former soldier David Timmins said of the facility: "It's absolutely fantastic, it's purpose-built, state-of-the-art, the technology is absolutely wonderful.

"Unfortunately some of these guys leave school with poor exam results… they join the army to get away from poor family dynamics, and then they find themselves discharged, homeless and unemployed.

They don't want to go back to where they came from, so this is an ideal place for these guys to get 12 months to get their head together".

He told the BBC that the facility is the only one of its kind. "We are the guinea pigs... Hopefully if this is a success they'll start rolling these out elsewhere."

Maj Gen Mark Strudwick, chairman of SVR, said: "This facility is an important step forward in helping us address the very specific problems of young veterans who are in need of dedicated support, especially here in the west of Scotland where we have not previously had a presence.

"Twenty thousand servicemen and women leave the armed forces every year in the UK. While almost all make a successful transition to civilian life, a number will sadly struggle with poor mental health, unemployment, family breakdown and homelessness."

Image caption The housing development provides training, education, employment and recreation facilities for vulnerable veterans

'Crucial support'

Phil Cox, CEO of SVR said: "The Scottish government figures showing nearly 800 veterans are without a home only tell part of the story. We know from the work we do in other parts of Scotland that many more fall below the radar and never appear on any official register.

"As well as offering affordable housing for ex-service people and their families, the new development in Glasgow is focused on providing supported temporary accommodation for those veterans who have nowhere else to turn and giving them the crucial support they need to get back on their feet again."

Veterans Minister Keith Brown congratulated SVR on an "outstanding job".

"The Scottish government has contributed £2.3 million to the project, which is a terrific facility that serves as a prime example of accommodation for ex-service personnel that other organisations can follow."

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