SSAFA Gloucestershire helps homeless veteran find safety

05 April 2024

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity recently helped an Army veteran who was living rough in Gloucestershire with his wife after losing his job and home.

Lemeki [not his real name] came to the UK two decades ago from Fiji to serve in the British Army. He saw service in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite being an excellent soldier Lemeki sustained an injury at work and was medically discharged.

Lemeki’s marriage did not survive his transition out of the Army and he and his wife divorced, leaving him with very little of the lump sum payout on medical discharge. Happily, he later met and married Klara [not her real name]. The couple moved into a flat, both having good jobs. However, during Covid, first one, then the other lost their job.

To add to their difficulties, their landlord effected a “no fault eviction”. With no money for a deposit for new rental accommodation, the pair were made homeless. Their local authority passed them to the YMCA, which housed them for three months, then they were referred to Veteran’s Aid, which moved them to various hotels more than 100 miles away. Life was chaotic, they were unfamiliar with the new area and could not find work in such circumstances.

Lemeki and his wife decided that they needed to return to Gloucestershire to find work, but when they got back, the local council said that they had made themselves “intentionally homeless” and would give them no further help. This is when they started sleeping rough.

A local homelessness charity referred them to SSAFA as Lemeki was a veteran. A SSAFA caseworker visited them immediately.

Their caseworker said: “They were living on rough ground outside a town, cooking on an open fire, with no running water or toilet facilities. Members of the public had called the police to complain, and the couple were being asked to ‘move on’.”

The caseworker sought immediate financial help to pay for emergency accommodation, clothing and food. The pair explained that they had been trying to save money to pay for flights to get back home to Fiji because there they would have somewhere to live and be able to get jobs.

The SSAFA caseworker assisted, contacting the High Commission and visa offices and the couple are now back in Fiji.

The caseworker said: “The couple were desperate and had had such a hard time. The administration needed to re-apply for passports and visas was so complex and expensive they were just not able to get it done alone. Lemki’s old regiment stepped up and offered financial help, which was wonderful. I am pleased to report they are safely back in Fiji with their families and are extremely happy to be home.

Lemeki and Klara were doubly entitled to help from SSAFA because Klara had been married to a soldier before she met Lemeki. I would really like to emphasise: if you are in trouble and have a military connection reach out to SSAFA.”

Please feel free to call our Forcesline if you need any support.

0800 260 6767

We are open 09:00 - 17:00,
Monday to Friday.

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