Thankyou to the WOODLANDSTOCK 2023 event organisers including Joan Earnshaw for inviting HELP 4 HOMELESS VETERANS Charity to have a fundraising stand with you today.
Ably staffed by our own Chair John Healy and Trustee Eve Rose Keenan. So sorry I couldnt be there but hope to be fit for duty again soon.
Thanks also to the club for your ongoing support since Easter. I will come 1 evening to give a short presentation on the work of our charity helping local veterans in all Yorkshire and North/NE Lincolnshire Joani
Memories of Help 4 Homeless Veterans charity Exhibition van at AFD 2023.
Visited by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and MP John Healey.
Thanks to Tom, Darren, Andy, Diane and Cllr Eve Rose Keenan our Armed Forces Champion for helping to staff our stall not forgetting 1 of our most recent customers who came along to help us this morning.
This is my 8th year as the CEO. I am proud of the achievements this tiny charity has continued to produce. By every measure we, and how others use to judge our work, results have been bettered year on year, this reporting period more than any other in our history.
The charity has assisted 108 Homeless Veterans during this reporting period.
Last full 12 months it was 99
Previous year to that it was 90
Total around 900 since we began 10 years ago.
We have handled referrals from many sources in this time.
We reached a decision effective from the 1st February 2023 to restrict our support to veterans in future to those in the:
South, East, North & West Yorkshire and North and NE Lincolnshire
as the call on our service, the number of other regional similar charities that have grown and importantly OP FORTITUDE, MODs initiative for homeless veterans was due online wef 1st April to share the load amongst providers.
The FUEL SUPPORT GRANT was introduced on 1st October 22 in partnership with the Veterans Foundation. Since then, we have disbursed over 80 x £100 grants to veterans taking the total number of veterans receiving help from us to almost 1000!
The big news for us in the past 12 months was the opening of our new DROP IN Hub in Barnsley Town Centre without BMBC or anyone else’s help. We very recently celebrated its first birthday with a number of high-profile visitors as well as many veterans, some who have become regulars.
It is proving a useful resource with veterans visiting for hot food, Food Vouchers, comradeship, practical assistance and advice. It has a computer room that can be used by veterans. It is a focal point now for our activities and has become our Head Office.
We exchanged our exhibition trailer for a Van that was an RAF Recruiting vehicle in a past life just like me!
The other mechanical update is we have upgraded our 6-seater minibus for a 12-seater with disabled ramp access to use on Therapy farm and other days out we plan to introduce.
We recently restocked our Lock up store with essential items such as cookers, fridges washing machines microwaves kettles cups plates KFS etc ready for issuing to veterans in need.
Last May we donated a Remembrance Bench to RMBC Town Hall.
Therapy Farm visits began again on 21st March. Anyone who has already visited will tell of the enjoyment it gives. The funding for this project came from THE VETERANS FOUNDATION. That cash is virtually all spent now but the benefits to veterans, quite a few who have had more than 1 visit are immediately apparent.
Now some exciting news, H4HV profile is going to be lifted by the production of a TV series and the publication of a book of poems by our own ambassador Amber which was launched on 28th April at our Drop In birthday party.
This may be my final CEOs report; both age and illness are gaining on me, I need to start taking more time to help me combat the cancer illness and treatment. After my forthcoming discussion with the consultant, I will decide when I wish to retire.
I want to place on official record my enormous admiration for Tom Wood our Founder. Thank him also for giving me the opportunity in 2015 to take the reins of his charity.
I believe we have made a first-class team providing most of the front-line support to so many vulnerable veterans. See below for a selection of the thankyou messages received from grateful veterans who benefitted from our charity.
Thank you to our Chair Councillor John Healy who has been my sounding board for difficult decisions, Andy and Diane Martin who are the backbone of the Drop In and the rest of the team of Trustees past and present who have helped to make HELP 4 HOMELESS VETERANS charity the success it has become.
Finally, as always THANK YOU to everyone who has supported the charity by fund raising during the past 12 months. Without your help we would not be in such a strong position to continue helping the ever-growing number of vulnerable veterans seeking assistance from our charity.
Whatever the future holds, the charity remains in a strong financial position to meet its obligations for at least another full operating period.
Steven Bentham-Bates BA Hons
Chief Executive Officer
Help 4 Homeless Veterans
Charity no 1148155 30th April 2023
Following serious discussions amongst the charity’s trustees, myself and the Founder, we have decided that due to the ongoing increasing calls for help from the charity, now double what they were only 3-4 years ago, plus the number of other groups offering similar support that have set up around the Country since our charity was created ten years ago:
from now we will concentrate our efforts supporting homeless veterans in the YORKSHIRE and North East LINCOLNSHIRE areas only.
This has not been an easy decision to make. We are proud of the fact that the charity has assisted over 800 veterans as far afield as The Channel Islands, Pembrokeshire, Cumbria, East Anglia and along the South Coast as well as our home area since we began working with vulnerable veterans.
But the sheer numbers now requiring assistance from our limited resources has caused us to make this difficult decision to change to our policy.
Last year we assisted 99 veterans, in the past 9 months we have already supported over 95 veterans facing homelessness as well as disbursing over 60 Fuel poverty support grants. We have also opened a new DROP IN facility in Barnsley and provided a number of veterans with days out at the Therapy Farm we work with.
This level of assistance is not sustainable for a small charity, hence our decision.
It has been left to as near as possible to the 1st April when OP FORTITUDE comes on line to alleviate too many veterans missing out from our help.
Veterans seeking assistance outside of our new areas of operation should contact the various other groups and charities working with homeless veterans.
Contact the VETERANS GATEWAY for other organisations that can help you.
Well here we are once again, another calendar year almost over and HELP 4 HOMELESS VETERANS Charity no 1148155 has again increased our activities in every way.
Since January 2022 we have provided assistance to 106 veterans throughout England and Wales facing homelessness including a street homeless lady veteran in Barnsley as well as a company strength body of sofa surfers and car sleepers. Whether its because our response times are better known in the veterans community or there are more homeless veterans the number we have assisted has year on year now for the past 4 years increased which is worrying.
Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Veterans Foundation, this winter we have so far delivered £4000 of Utility Bill Support to 40 veterans
The highlight of 2022 though has to be finally achieving our aim of opening a Drop In Centre in Barnsley Town Centre in April. This is now developing into a useful advice and support hub for local veterans culminating in the recent Christmas Party. We have been visited by 3 local MPs the High Sheriff and a number of local Councillors as well as other support groups who we have agreed to let them use our location to meet their clients.
Other achievements include running trips out using our Minibus. Indeed they are so successful we have arranged to upgrade to a larger bus with disabled access which will be available from Spring 2023. The Therapy Farm has been the main trip which has been enjoyed by around 50 veterans this year including our own Ambassador Amber and her son Brandon.
We also ditched our display trailer and replaced it with a purpose built exhibition Van which is ready to deploy to various fund raising events as opportunities arise.
We remain very grateful to every organisation and individuals who support our work. Without your help none of the veterans we have worked with would have benefitted from the range of support we continue to provide. Thankyou all and a Merry Christmas.
The Barnsley Drop in hosted some high profile visitors in November. We had the HIGH SHERIFF OF SOUTH YORKSHIRE Lieutenant Colonel R “Mac” McPherson MBE call in and chat to volunteers at the beginning of the month.
Later we entertained John Healey MP for Wentworth and Councillor Eve Rose Keenan the Rotherham MBC Armed Forces Champion to check out the Drop In facility to see if a similar facility can be created in Rotherham – Watch this space!
Finally, on Armistice Day just after the 11 o’clock 2 minute silence, Barnsley MP former Army Officer Dan Jarvis MBE MP came to view our Drop In set up and meet some Barnsley veterans taking advantage of a free “brew and bacon butty!
BLACKPOOL BASH 2022 This is a message to all involved in the BLACKPOOL BASH annual Fund raiser to support HELP 4 HOMELESS VETERANS Charity no 1148155. From all involved here at the charity from the Trustees, Founder, volunteers, myself but most of all the 60 veterans assisted since 1st May 2022 which brings the overall total helped since Tom Wood created the organisation in 2010, to over 750, please accept our GRATEFUL THANKS for all you do to raise funds to help the most vulnerable of our fellow veterans.
I have spoken to Julie Heeney and Phil Heeney this morning to assure them that their efforts organising the event every year, now in its 8th I believe have made an amazing difference to many Veterans lives. Only this morning I was at the bank paying rent and a bond for an ex soldier in Sheffield so he can get the keys to his own place this afternoon.
ONLY POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE BLACKPOOL BASHERS GO ABOVE AND BEYOND EVERY YEAR WITH YOUR ANNUAL FUND RAISER. It has brought in many thousands of pounds over the years.
Those of us who have not served in the armed forces will never fully understand the sacrifices made or the depth of scars faced by soldiers, sailors and airmen. But we can ensure that we never forget the service of our veterans and support them in their own time of needs.
Help 4 Homeless Veterans is a Barnsley-based charity dedicated to helping the nation’s veterans who are facing homelessness.
The charity was started in 2010 by former 22 year Infantry Soldier, Tom Wood, after he found a homeless veteran begging in the street. Together with his wife Jean, he made a pledge to get as many veterans as he could off the streets and since then the charity has supported over 700 veterans nationwide.
Every year, thousands of vulnerable veterans end up sleeping rough, sofa surfing or living in unsuitable hostels because of barriers to accessing social housing. They deserve better.
It’s recently been enshrined in law under the Armed Forces Covenant that nobody should be disadvantaged due to being in the armed forces. As their former employer, the Ministry of Defence, are obligated to provide the resources to help ex-service men and women access the support and services they’re entitled to.
Under the covenant, local authorities should be proactively trying to find homeless veterans and help them into housing. It is vital to establish if a person has served in the Armed Forces so they can access the enhanced provision that is available to them. But small charities like Help 4 Homeless Veterans are still having to pick up the pieces and support ex-service personnel who slip through the net.
“Two generations ago, virtually everyone had some connection to the armed forces. But currently there are around 160,000 people in the British military and 2.4 million veterans who make up a small slice of society. There needs to be more education around veterans and why they might find themselves homeless and how this can affect employability and relationships,” says Tom.
At Help 4 Homeless Veterans, they do all they can to help veterans transition from Armed Forces environments to civvy street. This might be by paying for emergency accommodation, subsidising bonds or the initial rent for private housing, sourcing new furniture and appliances, or paying for food shopping.
They also run monthly visits to ex-soldier Jamie Quinn’s Lincolnshire farm for therapy which helps veterans struggling with mental health or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Earlier this year, Help 4 Homeless Veterans opened their first drop-in centre in Barnsley town centre thanks to a bequest from an ex-soldier who served with Tom. It has always been a dream of Tom’s to open a hub where comradeship can thrive, and now Help 4 Homeless Veterans can widen their support network to those who aren’t facing homelessness but still need help.
Tom is now joined by a team of fellow veterans from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force who volunteer their time to supporting their comrades, sharing their experiences forged in the military and after retiring from the armed forces.
The volunteer team can provide advice around benefits, debt management, accessing hardship funds, or where to get mental health support. They’re also on-hand to help with form filling, creating CVs or applying for jobs, and can chaperone veterans to appointments if needed. Mainly, the hub is a place where the military community can pull up a sandbag, have a brew and be part of this new unit.
Charity CEO Steve Bentham-Bates served in the RAF for 24 years before working as an employment advisor for the forces’ employment charity, RFEA, for 18 years. Newest recruit Julie Grayshon has invaluable experience in benefits and housing applications, having worked in council rents after 12 years’ combined service in the Women’s Royal Army Corps and Riyal Signals.
Some of the volunteers have been on the receiving end of the charity, sharing their perspective of experiencing first-hand the life-changing work the team does. They’ve known the natural dangers that come with life in the military, but also the camaraderie, stability and discipline that’s hard to replicate in civilian life.
Former Royal Anglian, Andy Martin, was helped by the charity in 2015. He served in the army for eight years before being medically discharged for back surgery. Due to complications, he later became paralysed from the waist down. Soon after his marriage broke down and Andy found himself homeless. The charity helped Andy apply for a ground floor council flat which he says has helped turn his life around. He volunteers to share with other veterans how they too can make civilian life work for them if they get access to the right services.
Richard Parker is another volunteer who has had to cope with the physical and mental strain of being discharged early from the military due to medical grounds. After joining the army at 16, Richard says he never imagined leaving but was medically discharged after 21 years in the artillery after his section’s vehicle hit an IED in Iraq. With a young son at home, Richard lived with painful injuries to his legs for many years before it led to a heart attack in 2014 due to pressure on his arteries. Last year he finally had his leg amputated after the operation was cancelled four times.
Although he had help from military housing, Richard says it was just an empty shell with no furniture or belongings so he found himself sofa surfing up and down the country.
“People didn’t know but I had PTSD, was going through a breakdown and had attempted suicide. During lockdown Steve got in touch to ask if I was struggling and if I wanted to meet for a coffee. Within an hour and half, he had got a bed for me and my son, kitted us out with appliances, plates, towels, everything we’d need. It broke my heart. I’d previously contacted big military charities and have finally heard back 19 months later. Team means together everyone achieves more and without that team I wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for people like Steve and Tom us veterans would get left on the wayside.”
Last year, the charity helped 99 people across the country in various ways, with the figure set to grow as the cost of living crisis tightens its grip on the most vulnerable in society. The volunteers work tirelessly to make sure nobody is forgotten and have received numerous awards for their work, including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020 and an MBE for founder, Tom.
But it is by their deeds that they’re known.
“Money is our lifeblood and we have a constant battle for fundraising. It was particularly difficult during Covid but we have reserves for the next 12 months to fund the new premises. It will cost us about £12,000 a year to run but it will be money well spent if people benefit from the support we’re able to give,” says Steve.
With no funding from government or local authorities, Help 4 Homeless Veterans are indebted to the generous donations they receive from the community. This year, they were one of two chosen charities at the annual Match 4 Heroes football event which Rotherham referee, Mick Webb, is involved in organising.
“I’m not a veteran but these guys give their lives for us so every bit of help is good help. The event was originally set up by the parents of fallen soldiers in Huddersfield so it’s always had a military connection. This year we had an army team, police team, Huddersfield legends team and a local team from Golcar where the match was held. It raised £13,000 which was split between Help 4 Homeless Veterans and the Yorkshire Regiment Benevolent Trust.”
The drop-in centre, based on Regent Street South in Barnsley town centre, is open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am until 2pm, but there is always someone at the end of the phone if help is needed.
HELP 4 HOMELESS VETERANS charity no 1148155 hosted a visit by local MP and Shadow Minister for Veterans Stephanie Peacock MP this lunch time at our new Barnsley Veterans Drop in Hub.
She spoke to Founder Tom Wood MBE and volunteers Andy and Diane Martin and myself about our work, how we support veterans, the Veterans Strategy Action Plan points relating to homelessness. We discussed cross referals to food banks.
We also suggested engaging with other local MPs like John Healey MP Shadow Defence Secretary and Dan Jarvis MBE MP, the new South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard to raise awareness of our new Drop In facility to aid ALL Veterans in the area.
Finally Stephanie expressed an interest in visiting our Therapy Farm Project so I warned her to bring her wellies!
Thankyou for taking the time to visit our charity today. #veterans #homelessness
Today 12 years after Tom Wood MBE and his wife Jean created Help 4 Homeless Veterans, their long-held aspirations to open a Veterans drop-in centre in their hometown of Barnsley came to fruition.
With the help of money bequeathed to the charity promised specifically to assist with the aim of creating this centre, and after a 2-year delay because of the pandemic, today it has finally opened with The Vice Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Mr. John Holt DL cutting the ribbon.
Tom and volunteers will staff the shop at 11 Regent Street South just yards from the Interchange entrance 3 days a week initially to offer advice and practical assistance to veterans.
The charity’s rapid interventions assisting around 700 veterans, nearly 100 in the last 12 months alone has attracted Royal recognition with the award in 2020 of The Queens Award for Voluntary Service as well as a number of other community service awards along the way.