THE candidate standing for Tees Valley Mayor launched a new veteran policy today.

Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour's candidate met veterans in Hardwick House, Middlesbrough, a supported housing project for single ex-service veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming rough sleepers.

One of the veterans that Ms Jacobs met, John, said: "I served my time in the Scottish regiment, then I moved from Newcastle up to Scotland, moved in with my now ex-girlfriend. I then tried to go back to the place I was in but they wouldn't let me back in. So I phoned this place, and they said get yourself down, so I came down on the 19th February this year.

"In effect I was homeless. Up in Scotland, by law they have to rehouse you, so I did have a flat there but I was stuck by myself and I do need help from my experiences in the British Army. I appreciate the support from this place, I've only been here two months and I'm already in with the mental health services."

Ms Jacobs said: "Whether they have served on the front line in the military or on the front line during the pandemic, there should be good housing for all.

"The Tees Valley will thrive when we all thrive and this means ensuring we don't leave people behind, particularly those who serve their communities and their country.

"Politicians pay lip service to our veterans and made a big show of clapping for key workers during the lockdown but they need more than that. The best way we can reward them is with access to decent, secure and affordable housing."

In response, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Our veterans have served our country with pride and distinction; they have kept us safe and secure while willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, so it is only right that when they return to civilian life we do all we can to make sure they are looked after.

“As Mayor I have worked with the Royal British Legion to support of hero veterans who have found themselves homeless, and I’ve provided funding so the charity can deliver dedicated advice and support to former members of the Forces and their families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“As we breathe new life into the former steelworks site as part of my plan, veterans are guaranteed an interview for the jobs we are creating. 

“As long as they meet the relevant criteria for the post and are within 12-weeks of their discharge date or have the armed forces as their last long-term employer, they will be given an interview.

“With Teesworks we’re building a bright future for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and our ex-service personnel are absolutely part of it.”