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Prime Minister Pledges Support for GBP20m Coming Home Campaign

- With Photo

LONDON, May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Prime Minister has pledged his support for a GBP20million charity appeal to give the UK's most grievously wounded soldiers a better life. The 'Coming Home' appeal was launched yesterday (May 18) by Haig Housing Trust to find and adapt accommodation for Servicemen left severely disabled by battlefield injuries.

Since the start of the last Iraq War in 2003 there have been 675 seriously injured or very seriously injured British casualties, many of whom have unique housing needs. Coming Home aims to meet that challenge and has already bought a suitable house for Marine Mark Ormrod who lost both legs and his right arm when he trod on a landmine in Afghanistan.

Mark, 26, whose wife Becky is expecting her first child, said: "If Haig Housing Trust hadn't stepped in to save the day then I'm not sure where we would have ended up once I left the military."

David Cameron said: "I am delighted to support Coming Home in its mission to find and adapt housing for seriously disabled soldiers. These brave men and women risked their lives for us on a daily basis and suffered life-changing injuries as a result. As Prime Minister I will do what I can to recognise the contribution of those who served in defence of our country, and in particular we have kept our promise to write the principles of the military covenant into law. But there is clearly more to be done on so many different fronts and so I wish Coming Home every success for the future."

Supporters and senior military figures attended the campaign launch in London's National Army Museum. They included General Lord Dannatt, former head of British Army and Christina Schmid, widow of bomb disposal expert Olaf Schmid. They heard the Chief Executive of HHT, Major General Peter Besgrove outline the horrific cost paid by the brave Servicemen on the front line. He said: "The past two years alone account for 300 serious or very serious injuries and the numbers continue to grow. We already have 55 people who are asking for help and are on our books.

"The GBP20 million raised will buy suitable properties for these disabled and will provide the secure, affordable and, above all, individually adapted homes in the right places from which our wounded can start their new lives.

"Many of our wounded are now surviving injuries that would have proved fatal 20 years ago. Given their injuries, rehabilitation takes much longer, sometimes as long as four years. Given the numbers who have been seriously wounded it is only over the past 18 months or so that we have begun to see them emerging from the rehabilitation system. For many the next step means leaving the Forces and starting their lives again. But some of these wounded simply have nowhere suitable to live once they are discharged from the Services. They had no plans to return to civvy street quite so suddenly, and certainly not in the disabled condition they now find themselves in."

HHT will work as the strategic housing partner for Help for Heroes, who was at the Coming Home launch.

HAIG HOUSING TRUST

Haig Housing Trust (HHT) was set up by the charity Haig Homes in 2008 to give more flexible forms of housing help to the Service community, and is regulated by the Charities Commission. Haig leads for the ex-Service charities on housing matters, and HHT now acts as "housing agent" for, amongst others, Help for Heroes (H4H) and the ABF The Soldiers Charity.

The charity liaises regularly with the Services through the Army Recovery Capability at Andover, the regional Personnel Recovery Units (PRUs) and DMRC Headley Court. HHT aims to give early advice re housing to the badly wounded and disabled and so possibly prevent them making costly mistakes. It also offers adapted housing on Haig's existing estates, or to buy and rent back individually sourced properties where they are needed, and can also provide a shared ownership scheme to prevent those with sizeable PAX and AFCS payments from having to sink all their money into bricks and mortar.

HHT already has more than 50 cases on its books, and is currently in the process of purchasing nine properties for or jointly with wounded Service personnel.

Haig Homes has so far generously funded these purchases but a major fundraising campaign is now needed to meet the likely demand over the next three to four years. This is estimated to be about GBP20 million.

For further information please visit: http://www.coming-home.org.uk

Note to Editors:

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