News

Military families at risk of homelessness, says senior nurse

Scale of the issue is not fully understood, says Wendy Nicholson.
Homelessness

The number of military families experiencing homelessness is a hidden problem, although the scale of the issue is not fully understood, a senior nurse has said.

Public Health England national lead nurse for children, young people and families Wendy Nicholson said statistics illustrating the scale of the issue were hard to obtain. However, she added that it was a recognised problem that military families were vulnerable to homelessness.

A number of families coming back from being part of the military are in debt and experience difficulty finding a home, Ms Nicholson told delegates at an event on healthcare for homeless families, which took place in Birmingham on 17 March.

Temporary accommodation

Ms Nicholson said military families were a hidden homeless group and many found themselves in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts or shelters, after active service was over.

The number of military families experiencing homelessness is a hidden problem, although the scale of the issue is not fully understood, a senior nurse has said.


Picture: iStock

Public Health England national lead nurse for children, young people and families Wendy Nicholson said statistics illustrating the scale of the issue were hard to obtain. However, she added that it was a recognised problem that military families were vulnerable to homelessness.

‘A number of families coming back from being part of the military are in debt and experience difficulty finding a home,’ Ms Nicholson told delegates at an event on healthcare for homeless families, which took place in Birmingham on 17 March.

Temporary accommodation

Ms Nicholson said military families were a hidden homeless group and many found themselves in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts or shelters, after active service was over.

‘Houselessness’ – sleeping in temporary institutions or shelters, or living in insecure or inadequate housing – is as much a definition of homelessness as sleeping rough is, she said.

‘Many families find themselves in temporary accommodation and can’t find a job.’

A Sunday Mirror investigation in 2013 found that about 9,000 homeless people in the UK, about one in 10, had a military background.

Risk factors

Ms Nicholson said: ‘Quite often within military families, there can be a high incidence of domestic violence, alcohol misuse and debt.’ She added that these factors are all risk factors for homelessness.

‘Depending on the particular branch of the military, there can be constant moving around with no connection to local communities. And there is a certain amount of stress if a partner is going off for a tour.’

Ms Nicholson said children from military families who have health needs can be put at a disadvantage because every time the family moves, the child goes to the bottom of the waiting list for appointments with specialists.

The event, organised by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, was part of a programme aimed at improving community nursing care for people experiencing homelessness.


Further information

Government resources and guidance on homelessness


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