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War veteran Ryan Grieves calls for ex-servicemen and women to jump housing queue
A father-of-two is calling for ex-servicemen and women to be put to the front of the housing queue after finding himself homeless three months since leaving the British Army.
Ryan Grieves, 23, has been sleeping on friends’ sofas and in his car since quitting the army where he served in the Two Rifles for six and a half years.
Mr Grieves, who grew up in Barnet, said: “I could only get home once every two months for two to three nights.
“I really missed my family and I was missing out on seeing my kids growing up so I decided to come back home to be with them.”
Six months before leaving his barracks in Northern Ireland he contacted Barnet Homes, which manages 15,000 council houses in the borough, asking them for a home for himself, his girlfriend Katie Richings, 25, and their two children Archie, three, and Taylor, eight.
The couple fall into the Band Two waiting list, which prioritises people who have made a “community contribution” – but when Mr Grieves returned home in January he still did not have the security of a roof over his head.
Miss Richings, a beauty student at Barnet College, is staying with her father, who will not let Mr Grieves stay at the house because of a family feud, and his own parents have no room because seven of their nine children are living at home.
Mr Grieves, who is due to start working as a gardener for Barnet Council, said: “I don’t have anywhere to go, all my stuff’s in storage and I’m living out of a bag.
“I’ve been fighting for the country for years – I’ve been to Afghanistan, Kosovo, Kenya, Cyprus and Belize.
“It’s really bad when you’ve been serving the country that you don’t get looked after when you leave. I think more should be done.
"I should be able to bath my kids and get them ready for bed, but I can’t do that. It’s really hard.”
Miss Richings said: “I was looking forward to having some support and building a home together. We should be living together as a family. The kids are really proud of their daddy, they tell everyone he’s a soldier, but they miss him so much.”
A Barnet Homes spokesman said: “Mr Grieves' service in the army means he is a higher priority case for us and we will seek to find him and his partner and children an appropriate property as soon as possible from the very limited number of properties available to us.
“It is highly likely that he will have to wait for some time, in common with other housing applicants of a similar level of priority, and we would ask him in the meantime to keep us informed about his housing situation or if he needs more urgent assistance.”