1. ITV Report

Former soldier calls for greater support for retired personnel after being forced to sleep in shed over Christmas

Rachel Shaw served Household Cavalry for five years. Credit: BPM Media

A former soldier has said more needs to be done to support servicemen and women, after she was left sleeping in a shed over Christmas.

Rachel Shaw left her partner shortly before Christmas. She had to stay in her friend’s shed for five days before sleeping on the streets of Nottingham for a night.

Ms Shaw, who is a transgender woman, has since been found temporary accommodation in a city centre hotel.

But she has called for greater protections to prevent former service personnel getting in a similar position.

She said:

I served my country for five years, I put my life on the line, and it just feels like people are turning round and saying you’re not our problem, you’re someone else’s problem, and I just feel that’s really unfair.

I’m a British citizen, and I should be entitled to some sort of help.

It’s had a massive effect on my health. I’ve come down with a massive flu, and I just feel broken. I feel like I’m at rock bottom, and that I can’t go on any more.

– Rachel Shaw, Former Soldier
Rachel Shaw said she knew she was transgender from a young age. Credit: BPM Media

Ms Shaw joined the army when she was 19, and she served in the Household Cavalry for five years.

She said she has known “from a very young age” that she was transgender, but that she “kept it hidden” because she was worried about what people would think of her.

I joined the army to try to change what people think, but it didn’t change how I felt.

I have never really had my own place since leaving the army, it’s always been shared accommodation and living with other people.

I’ve worked for the majority of my life, it’s only been the last year and a half that I’ve not been working because of the bullying.

– Rachel Shaw, Former Soldier

The Royal British Legion said help is available to veterans.

Any member of the Armed Forces community who requires support and assistance should contact the Legion on 0808 802 8080 from 8am to 8pm.

Launched last year, Veterans’ Gateway is another point of contact for veterans, their families and carers who are in need of support and is open 24/7 via 0808 802 1212 and via text 81212.

– Spokesman, Royal British Legion

A Government spokesperson said:

We are providing over £1 billion through to 2020 to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping.

We are also bringing in the Homelessness Reduction Act - the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier.

We are also delivering a range of initiatives under the Armed Forces Covenant to help veterans, including the Veterans Gateway, providing a single point of contact for veterans to identify the support they are seeking.

– Spokesman, Government