Former Lancashire fusilier Rick is swapping the streets for a better life thanks to the Ex-Forces Action Network (E-FAN) – an initiative designed to help former service personnel in Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
Rick was street homeless in Manchester and sleeping in a park. His benefits had been suspended and he had no money. Suffering with anxiety, depression and alcohol issues, he had built up more than £200 worth of bank charges. Going overdrawn, he was charged £6 a day, unaware that he was not receiving his bank statements because he was living on the streets.
Isaac Smith, his probation officer, said: “Rick is 50 in December and Christmas is just around the corner. It’s great that this work has resulted in Rick being offered a new supported flat and his benefits are being reinstated. What’s more, that he will be spending his 50th and Christmas in his new property rather than in the park or sofa surfing.”
Isaac liaised with the Benefits department and re- started his claim for Employment Support Allowance. As a result, Rick has now received an advance payment and had an interview with a housing association to rent a property in the Oldham area.
“We attended an open day at the property and looked around a flat. I have spoken to Rick’s bank and they have refunded all his bank charges and he is now in credit. He has now moved in and is really happy with his new accommodation. We also organised food parcels and other bits and pieces to get him started. His future is looking much brighter now,” said Isaac.
Rick said: “I don’t know where I’d be without the help I’ve had from E-FAN. I’d either be in prison or dead as it was getting so cold sleeping outside.”
Note for Editors
The Ex-Forces Action Network (E-FAN) is a new initiative, the first of its kind, which aims to provide a unique and comprehensive service that will connect ex-forces personnel, who’ve had any contact with the Criminal Justice System, to a wide range of services tailored specially for those who have served in the British armed forces.
E-FAN is funded by the MOD’s new Covenant Grant Fund and forms part of the Government’s long-term commitment to supporting schemes under the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served are treated fairly.
Cheshire and Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC) is responsible for delivering E-FAN in partnership with the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS).
Although there are significant resources available to former service personnel a lack of awareness about how and where to access them, and in some cases a reluctance to ask for help, can lead to some veterans missing out.
E-FAN aims to tackle this head on by providing an individual assessment for each client and referring them to specialist help and assistance, as well as providing access to a number of entirely new opportunities created by E-FAN to support clients.
Any former member of the British armed forces who have had contact with the Criminal Justice System and live in Cheshire or Greater Manchester are eligible.