ARMED forces charity UK Homes 4 Heroes has launched a new Dorset service to help re-house homeless ex-service personnel.

The branch is run by a group of volunteers, all ex-forces or of military families themselves, and is working in partnership with Bournemouth soup kitchen Hope for Food.

CEO Jimmy Jukes, who started the charity in London five years ago, said they knew of at least 11 former servicemen living rough in Bournemouth.

“We have been down here a few times already and have noticed a general problem with homelessness in the area,” he said.

“It is disgraceful that these boys go out and fight wars and then find themselves on the streets.”

Local co-ordinator David Wood said the charity provided its clients with links to treatment for mental health conditions – particularly post traumatic stress disorder – and education about managing finances and other everyday skills, as well as organising accommodation.

“We are all ex-forces, we have experienced what they have experienced, which helps them trust us,” said Mr Wood.

“Some are so institutionalised when they leave the forces they have no life skills at all. Local authorities have a duty to help them under the Military Covenant, but few of them are aware of that.”

He said they were currently building a relationship with Bournemouth council.

In a bid to get in touch with homeless service personnel in the area, UK Homes 4 Heroes will be working alongside Hope for Food at two of the latter’s three weekly soup kitchens – those on Thursdays at Richmond Hill St Andrews URC Church and on Saturdays at a new site near the Winter Gardens.

Hope for Food organiser Claire Matthews said: “I think it’s great what these guys are doing, we can really make a difference.”

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