Former Letchworth solider left homeless
- Credit: Archant
A FORMER soldier who served on two tours of Afghanistan has been refused a place on a council’s housing register as he has no local connection, despite having two young children who live in the area.
Dale Hitchcock served in the military for eight years, from 2003 to 2011, but since coming back from the war zone has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It led to the breakdown of his marriage, forcing him to move out of his home in Letchworth GC a year ago. He has since been lodging with a friend in Clifton.
The 32-year-old said: “I have paid my way in life and gave up my life for eight years in the service of this great nation. I have completed two six-month tours of Afghanistan, but it seems to mean nothing when you want something back from your own country.
“North Herts District Council (NHDC) will not get me on the housing register because they say I have no adult local connection. This is disgraceful. My children are my family, they are my blood. How is that not a local connection?”
The father-of-two said he wants people to know how ex-servicemen are not being supported and said more should be done to help them settle back into normal everyday life.
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He said: “I just think it is disgusting that NHDC will not support me. There are so many people who do nothing with their lives, live off benefits, and seem to get all the support they need.
“All I am asking is to be placed on the register. I am aware I will be a low priority, but at least I would have my foot on the ladder. My children are the only thing that keep me going. I want to be close to them and not have to travel miles to be with them or for them to be with me.”
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Mr Hitchcock, who works for an environmental company but is currently on sick leave due to his PTSD, said he cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom house or flat privately – something he would like to have for his children to be able to go and stay with him.
“I am a 32-year-old man,” he added. “I now have no choice but to go and live with my mum in Henlow. This is not how it should be. I am not asking for a lot, I’m just asking to be helped so that I can work and pay my way and see my children.”
Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for housing and environmental health, said: “Mr Hitchcock does not currently meet the criteria for a local connection on the housing allocation scheme, however we are always happy to consider applicants who may have another special reason why they qualify, so we would advise him to continue with his application, advising of his particular circumstances.
“We would also advise current or former members of the armed forces to apply even if they do not have a current local connection, as under the new Common Housing Allocation Scheme, due to go live in November, they would receive an automatic local connection.
“We would be happy to talk directly to Mr Hitchcock to discuss his case further and include his special circumstances, should he so wish.”