Royal Marines veteran, 60, faces being homeless at Christmas after being left to ‘waste away’ by council bosses

A ROYAL Marines veteran is facing homelessness this Christmas after being refused social housing.

Robert Davison, 60, has been sleeping on his daughter's sofa in Saltash, Cornwall, for the last nine months after a cerebral stroke left him unable to live alone at his home in Plymouth, Devon.

He had his stroke in October last year, but was rushed to hospital again in February after his daughter Kelly found him lying on the floor of his front room.

The 42-year-old said the war hero, who completed five tours of Afghanistan and served in the Falklands, had deteriorated and although he had regularly messaged her to tell her he was fine, he had "wasted away" smaller than her 14-year-old son.

Kelly took her dad home to care for him in Saltash and has been trying to find him social housing under the Armed Forces Covenant ever since.

But despite the covenant, which allows veterans to apply for social housing in areas like Cornwall where a local connection restriction applies, Mr Davison is still living on her sofa.

"My dad deserves a home and a bed to sleep on for Christmas," Kelly told The Sun Online.

"He did 37 years of service from when he was 17 years old. All he’s ever known is the Royal Marines. 

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“He gave up his life gladly, he served his Queen and country proudly.

"But now he’s just feeling very worthless that Cornwall Housing has denied him the protection of the Armed Forces Covenant."

Authorities in Cornwall usually require a person looking for housing to have a "local connection" to the area – someone who has been there for more than five years.

But the council says this restriction is waived for veterans like Mr Davison under the Armed Forces Covenant.

Kelly, who now works half time for her cleaning and maintenance business to look after her dad, explained: “Under legislation for the Armed Forces Covenant a service person has five years from the date of their discharge to make an application to social housing of their choice. 

“He was discharged (from the Marines) in October 2016 and he made his application in March 2021 – which was within the five years.”

The mum-of-eight said her dad has been sleeping on her sofa to be near her bathroom downstairs, which he wouldn't be able to get to from her room due his mobility issues from the stroke.

And she said he was denied a room in a Travel Lodge, which the council usually uses for temporary housing, because of his mobility needs.

Of his situation, Mr Davison said: "It’s like being a foreigner in the country you were born in. It’s uncomfortable, you don’t get a proper night’s sleep."

Kelly added: “I would give up my bedroom in a heartbeat but the bathroom is downstairs and because of his mobility he needs to sleep on the sofa.

He would do anything to support our servicemen and veterans. So for the housing to treat him so disgustingly and say we don't want you here, I find it disgraceful.

“It’s very uncomfortable. Where he’s been sleeping on the sofa for nine months it’s got a big dip where he lies.

“I’m absolutely disgusted that they have not just done this but allowed it to continue for nine months.”

Kelly said she has considered moving back with her dad to Plymouth, where he has lived most of his life, but does not want to uproot her kids who go to school in Saltash.

She also says her dad is constantly bumping into people he knows near her home and her kids “love having their grandad around”.


She has now vowed to fight as long as it takes to get her dad a home near her.

"He would do anything to support our servicemen and veterans," Kelly said.

"So for the housing team to treat him so disgustingly and say we don't want you here, I find it disgraceful.

"I will fight until my last breath to get my dad a home here."

Cornwall Council, which owns Cornwall Housing, said it is aware of the Armed Forces Covenant and says it tries to support individuals to find housing without the need for temporary accommodation.

A spokesperson from the council said: "We sympathise with the position that some residents are finding themselves in as Cornwall faces extreme pressure on the availability of housing, with around 20,000 households currently on the Homechoice register.

"Cornwall Housing has an early intervention service, which provides information and advice on housing options, and a statutory prevention duty under the Housing Act is applicable to assist anyone threatened with homelessness within the last 56 days of their tenancy."

On helping veterans, it added: "The Armed Service Covenant exists to ensure that veterans are not placed at a disadvantage in accessing housing.

"For example, veterans have the same level of priority as those with a local connection – this means that we do not apply local connection criteria for people in this position, as we recognise that forces personnel are posted to various locations, and this is out of their control.

"We also follow and apply statutory guidance that aims to improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces.

"Any person who falls into a priority category under homelessness legislation is entitled to request temporary accommodation if they have been served notice by their landlord and once that notice has expired.

"Wherever possible, however, we try and assist people to stay in their accommodation or to move to another home without the need for temporary accommodation."  

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