Frank is a veteran who suffers from Gulf War syndrome and PTSD. He was living in the Scottish Borders for 11 years when his landlord went missing. Housing Options Scotland ‘Military Matters’ programme helped Frank move to Dunbar where he is now settled.
Frank had been living in Kelso, Scottish Borders in a private rented flat for 11 years when his landlord went missing. Letters from the landlord’s mortgage company addressed to the proprietor said that the property was being repossessed. Frank contacted a lawyer who explained that he should be in touch with the mortgage company to let them know that he was living in the property. He recalls:
“The mortgage company just thanked me – they gave me no information, nothing at all. I had no idea of the timescale of the process so I started thinking, ‘I’m going to have to do something about this’. I didn’t want to end up on the street.”
Having a disabled veteran friend who had been made homeless previously, Frank first spoke to them to see what he needed to do. His friend passed him contacts for the Borders council.
“I was just trying to pre-empt everything” Frank said. “I’d been told by the solicitor that it takes a long time to put these cases through the courts and even then it would likely be a couple of months after the decision is made before I had to move. I didn’t know how long it would all take.”
Frank first contacted his local council in the Borders to register as a potential homeless person. His experience was positive:
“They were great – they gave me all the information when I met with them and put my mind at ease straight away. They gave me a feeling that there was an answer and that I wouldn’t end up in the street or in the back of a car.”
Despite the positive experience with the council however, Frank was in limbo. He knew that he wouldn’t receive support until he was issued with an eviction notice and officially homeless, but he had no idea when this would happen. In an attempt to avoid that situation altogether, Frank decided that he wanted to move to East Lothian to be close to a friend. He began to contact different organisations.
“Veterans First Point in Galashiels put me in contact with the Flora Hastings Trust in Edinburgh as well as Garden City. I also contacted Scottish Veteran Residences who offered me a place, should I be made homeless right away. Because that wasn’t the case though, I didn’t take it.”
“Eventhough I didn’t feelstressed, it was a lot of stress. I didn’t feel it emotionally, but I could feel my body reacting to it – it brought on the pain even worse. That built up and built up over the months.”
Trying to remain positive, Frank was then put in touch with Housing Options Scotland, though he can’t exactly remember how. He met Karen, Housing Options Scotland’s ‘Military Matters’ broker.
“That was three organisations who tried to help – one even coming up with a result for me as an emergency. Then Karen came on the scene – she was looking at a few places and gave a few suggestions.”
Karen came up with a group of 3 associations – Bield, Hanover and Trust and sent Frank a brochure. He remembers:
“I wanted to feel rural rather than inner city, away from people. So, I looked through it all and there was something about Dunbar – I liked East Lothian and I have a brother here.”
“I got a sense of hope from other organisations but with Karen it was as if it was building all the time. Her attitude was that ‘I’ll find you somewhere and I won’t stop doing this until I find you somewhere you are happy with’ – that was the attitude I felt from Housing Options Scotland.
If I was agitated about something I could call Karen and she would be so laid back and calming. She took away the agitation – particularly around me saying no when things weren’t right. It’s not nice to say no to someone when they offer you something but she was really good with it.”
Karen suggested a few properties to Frank which were not quite right for him but, as Frank explained, she persevered. Finally, Frank and Karen visited a property in Dunbar with Bield. Frank reflects:
“It had a great ‘feel’. Peaceful, quiet and East Lothian had a great draw for me – sunshine, seaside!”
Frank decided to register his interest for the flat after viewing it with Karen and was subsequently offered it. He has since moved into the property and is getting settled. Karen said –
“I’m delighted that Frank is settling in well in his new home. When we viewed the flat in Dunbar it did have a lovely feel to it.
The flat is let by Bield Housing Association. The staff at Bield kept in good communication throughout and further support from Poppy Scotland meant Frank’s move to his new home was as stress-free as possible.”
“The whole process has run pretty smoothly because of Karen being involved – setting things up, being the go between with the council and with Bield. She sorted me with their contact details and explained what I had to do”
He also offers some advice for anyone facing a similar situation to his –
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I didn’t know this, but there are organisations out there to help you. Initially, contact the council and they will put your mind at ease. Then, go straight to Military Matters! Housing Options Scotland know about all the other organisations anyway and will do the legwork for you in conjunction with them. On top of that, Karen gives you a sense of hope. She calms you down when the stress is building up and she won’t give up on you – I’m a prime example of that.”