A NUMBER of Longlevens residents said this is the “wrong place” to help alcoholic or traumatised war veterans adjust to civilian life.
Christian charity Alabare wants to house eight ex-servicemen on Church Road where they can receive the support they need to address the issues that have rendered them homeless.
A heated meeting was held at the library where campaign director Geoffrey Willis attempted to address concerns, which ranged from the tenants’ ease of access to alcohol to fears they may lash out at children.
Apparent supporters of the scheme say they were left disappointed by some residents who were kicking the very people who have fought for their freedom “in the teeth.”
Mr Willis said the charity helps 249 veterans in 16 homes in residential areas across six cities, from Plymouth to Salisbury, and there have been no complaints in five years.
He said: “What you fear has not yet happened. Your community is a good one and with your support the service will be even better.
“Everything we do as a charity is geared towards moving the people through that home and allow them to live independently.”
He said a number of former soldiers they help deal with debt issues, depression and anxiety which he said is often borne out of coming from an institutionalised environment. But the ‘move-on’ rate to homes with a lesser degree of care stands at 90 per cent.
Mr Willis said each tenant will have to be assessed on their suitability for the accommodation and must make a “commitment to engaging with support workers” before moving in to the home, where they will stay for a maximum of two years. Concern was expressed about how the property will be used once the former soldiers have left.
A number of tenants in other areas have also ended up working in charity shops before entering paid employment, the meeting heard.
One resident told Mr Willis: “We have hundreds of children going backwards and forwards past this house. Some of the ex-servicemen are mentally scarred. It is quite possible one of these children could be out and bump into one of these people, who may lash out.”
Others expressed fear that those who depend on alcohol may drink on the street or in parks and start a fight on their way back to the home, which will be staffed from 9am until 6pm. There will be a 24-hour call out service in the event of emergency seven days a week.
One woman said: “I have to say these men are human beings and not aliens from Mars.
“What makes them any different from any other people walking up and down the road? These men deserve the right to be put back into society.”
A number of residents with opposing views clashed; some were described as ‘Nimbys’ and a few were told each other to “shut up.”
The charity has submitted a planning application to Gloucester City Council to change the use of a property, which it has not yet bought, from a dwelling house to a property accommodating eight non-related individuals.
Mr Willis added: “We want to reintegrate these people who may be are not as extreme as you are imagining.
“We want people to lead ordinary lives and have ordinary jobs – we can’t help them do that on the remote deserts of Dartmoor.”
Alabare specialises in reintegrating vulnerable veterans back into civilian life and operations director Janet Herring said relationship breakdowns are the main reason why these people have become homeless.
The charity already has a smaller home for veterans at Alexandra Road.
Conservative leader of Gloucester City Council Paul James residents have until March 31 to make their views to the council.