South Yorkshire homeless veteran charity facing 'unprecedented' demand

Video report by Helen Steel.

A South Yorkshire charity which helps veterans who end up homeless says demand has doubled, as it calls for more action from the government.

Help For Homeless Veterans has had 49 people need its services in the past six months alone - a record high.

Jason Emerson served his country in the army twenty years ago but ended up sleeping rough recently.

He said: "Years and years of being low but six months of being really terrible. Just didn't want to be here at all. Sleeping in fields in woods, drinking loads to self medicate - just to get it all out of my head kind of thing."

After six months of being homeless, in August he found the charity Help for Homeless Veterans who helped him find a council flat, paid the initial rent and furnished it.

He now volunteers for the charity.

Jason Emerson says Help for Homeless Heroes changed his life, after sleeping rough for six months

He said: ''It's turned my life around. Really has. Come from below nothing, below zero, nearly back up to full fighting fit again. It's been a brilliant experience."

The charity's founder Steve Bentham-Bates doesn't think enough's being done to help veterans when they leave the armed forces.

Jason was among the crowds paying their respects at an Armistice Day service in Rotherham today

He said: "I've been down to MOD 3 times now, I've met two veterans ministers. I was telling him - you should be making people like me redundant. We shouldn't be needed - but we are.

"We're there to honour the fallen - but we mustn't forget those who are still standing - who need help."

The Royal British Legion says it's received 100,000 calls for help this year - while SSAFA, another service charity, last year helped more than 79 000 people.

A government spokesperson said:

"No one, not least those who have served this country, should be homeless.

"There is a range of support that veterans can access, including receiving preferential access to social housing and through the Veterans Gateway.

"The government has spent over £800million on combating rough sleeping and homelessness this year to ensure that we build on the progress we have made."