Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Positve Outcomes from Alabare's Work with Ex-Military Personnel

In previous blog posts I highlighted the positive work of the Royal British Legion (RBL) and Alabare Christian Care supporting military veterans in Plymouth. So far fifteen ex-military personnel have experienced the support from the 'Mon Abri'(Safe Haven) half-way house and its staff. Of these, seven have subsequently left and rejoined society to forge new lives, three returning to their family home.

All had previously experienced military conflict in one or more recent operations - Northern Ireland, Falklands, Balkans, Cyprus, Gulf War and Iraq. Most were previously suffering with various levels of PTSD, depression, substance misuse and personality disorder; two had been suicidal. With the current scale of operations in Afghanistan, the number of military veterans suffering similar symptoms is anticipated to grow significantly.

A failure to provide similar support will inevitably result in many ex-military personnel eventually entering the criminal justice system with its increasing associated costs and waste of otherwise productive lives - (currently 20,000 of which 8,400 are in prison).

The anecdotal evidence is clearly demonstrating that the Plymouth project is effective and if delivered on a larger scale in other parts of the country would ensure that many other military veterans could be helped. One of the former clients is Adrian. He admitted that it had taken hard work to get where he is now, but without the support of Mon Abri staff and the RBL/SAAFA, he is not sure he would have made it. Other former residents have made similar claims.

With 5 homes, each with 7 bedspaces, Alabare anticipates supporting 70 people per year / 350 over 5 years. For this and the improvement of its existing drop in centres, floating support services and training services, it has has estimated the total funding required is £4.8m. Compare that with the cost of prison @ £40,000 per person per annum, with a 60% re-offending rate and all the associated costs - more crime, cost to victims, police, courts, health, probation, prison and ongoing unemployment, housing and other benefit payments. If we are to reduce re-offending and provide the support needed for those ex-military veterans who temporarily fall by the wayside, this model has surely set the precedent required. Let us hope the Government will support it.