A well-known veterans campaigner has come up with an ambitious plan to get homeless ex-personnel off the streets and back on their feet.
John Magee, who runs the borough’s branch of National Service RAF, has a vision for a one-stop centre in the borough which could provide accommodation and training for those who end up sleeping rough.
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Mr Magee started thinking about the issue of former armed forces members falling through the cracks after seeing the story of an ex-SAS trooper who took part in the Iranian embassy siege having to sleep on his daughter’s sofa, because his local council could not find him a house.
He initially wondered if existing MoD bases for cadets and reserves could be transformed into rehabilitation and rehoming centres, but was told this would not be possible for legal reasons.
Instead he has suggested that mills or other unused buildings in the borough might be suitable for his radical idea, and would be interested in hearing from anyone wanting to discuss the project.
Mr Magee said: “The homelessness issue among veterans needs sorting out and this is my cure for it. If we had something like a mill it would be big enough to have shops and units downstairs and then flats upstairs.
“People there would have accommodation taken care of and they could stay there to retrain for around six months. After that they could go and get their own flat, and then there would be another space at the facility for someone else.
“It’s about getting people back on their feet after they have been through a rough period. They need someone to help them through the routine of getting up and ready first thing in a morning, getting out there and getting to a job.”
Mr Magee says he has contacted GM Mayor Andy Burnham’s office and hopes the idea would be supported by politicians. He suggests the place would need to be staffed by people familiar with the military to get the ethos right, and the veterans could train in practical skills such as painting and decorating.
Homelessness among ex-veterans has caused increasing alarm in recent times with a number of organisations and charities in the borough attempting to tackle it.
Leigh-based Shoulder to Soldier has devoted more time and effort to getting veterans off the street and property businessman Jason Lloyd co-founded EDs to provide properties for those living on the streets.
Anyone who may be able to help Mr Magee can email firstname.lastname@example.org