Local News

Veteran Hit By Orkney Housing Crisis

The housing crisis hitting the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is affecting countless numbers of people. Some of those are our military veterans.

James Wyllie, who served with the Royal Marine Commandos, came to Orkney seeking a quiet life, somewhere he could be at ease after what he has been through in both his personal and military life.

Unfortunately for James he has been caught up in the shortage of affordable housing there is in Orkney.

Currently James is living with his support dog, a beautiful collie, in a caravan in Hoy. He has applied to both Orkney Housing Association (OHAL) and Orkney Islands Council but there is a large waiting list.

James has contacted local Constituency MSP, Liam McArthur about his situation. He is also awaiting letters from his doctor and the organisation Combat Stress, in support of his housing application.

We all know of at least someone who is either waiting on the housing list, or has been through the years it can take to get somewhere permanent to live.

Although unable to comment on individual cases Craig Spence, Chief Executive at Orkney Housing Association, said:

“There are over 900 households on the housing list in Orkney presently. As a local, independent housing charity, we strive to do our best to have good options available for the people in Orkney in the highest levels of housing need.

“All of our properties are allocated via our “Choice-based” lettings system. This enables any applicant, or someone supporting them to bid for any advertised property. The property is generally then allocated to the applicant with the highest housing need who requires that property type.

“Military veterans are one of the groups which have additional housing priority, as do people who are homeless, those who are inadequately housed or have a need to live in the area for work. This is all published in our Rented Allocation Policy.

“Through our ongoing programmes of building new housing for social rent and affordable sale – and upgrading existing housing stock, we continue to improve options available every year.”

The support organisation Combat Stress has seen a 71% increase in referrals from veterans in the last few years.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served, and their families, are treated fairly. This commitment is made in recognition of the sacrifices they make on behalf of the country. The Armed Forces Covenant is not designed to give the Armed Forces, Veterans and their families’ preferential treatment compared with other citizens but it should ensure that they get a fair deal and are not disadvantaged because of their Service. 

Veterans Scotland

Click on this link for: Veterans’ Gateway – information, advice and support for veterans and their families

Click on this link for the Facebook page of : the Orkney Armed Forces’ and Veterans’ Breakfast Club (OAFVBC)

Fiona Grahame