Gulf War veteran pitches up at Hawley Square for Great Tommy Sleep Out in aid of homeless ex-service people

Ian is raising funds and awareness for Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI)

If you walk by Hawley Square in Margate today you will likely notice the tent and sleeping bag with a Great Tommy Sleep Out  flag has been pitched up on the grass.

For tonight (March 13) this will be the home of service veteran Ian Warrington as he raises funds and awareness for the thousands of ex-military people who are currently homeless.

The 57-year-old served with the Royal Engineers and is a Gulf War veteran as well as postings to the Falklands and Germany.

Ian is from East London but moved to Thanet in 2002 and still has family on the isle. He has experienced homelessness and is now living at the Royal British Legion village in Aylesford which provides housing, welfare support and care to over 300 members of the Armed Forces community.

The dad-of-two, who served in the forces for just over 10 years, said: “I am an ex-serviceman and I have been homeless. The Great Tommy Sleep Out is to make people aware and raise funds to help for between 5,000 and 10,000 ex-service people who are living on the streets.

“Many are there because of PTSD, drug or alcohol issues or going through a divorce with nowhere else to go and of course with rent going up so much many can’t afford to live in a proper building.

“The funds will provide food, clothing, sleeping equipment if needed and help get people off the streets and help them with their disabilities.”

Ian, who attends the Royal Engineers association meetings held at Ramsgate’s Royal British Legion club, says marriage break-down led to him sofa surfing and even sleeping rough.

He was able to move to the RBL village last September and it was through that community that he learned of the Great Tommy Sleep Out and decided to help others going through the difficulties of being homeless.

He said: “I know what that situation is like. It was the Royal Engineers Association, which I am part of, that sent me information about getting a place in the ‘Poppy’ village and they help with finding a property, finances – they are there to help you help yourself. I knew the village existed but didn’t think I would be living there one day.

“I’m doing the sleep out in Hawley Square, opposite the council offices, and have a big flag up. If anyone wants to come along, I also have a donation bucket.

“This is being done by people up and down the country for the whole of March.”

The money raised is in aid of the Royal British Legion Industries which provides safe, warm housing and ensures people have a fair opportunity to gain employment, regardless of health conditions or disability.

Donations can be made until the end of March at:


  1. thats an issue for the goverment not the public , we cant do much about it ,and we didnt employ them , they joined up at thier own free will

    • Real World – you are a most ignorant article. Keep picking up your benefits as I doubt you are employable. I give my thanks to those that serve or served and defended me.

  2. Asylum seekers arriving by dinghy are not housed in tatty hotels or barracks out of concern or compassion. Its all about control, even if many have friends or relatives in the UK who are willing to accomodate them.
    But finding homes for ex- services people requires the government to show concern and compassion. So they don,t get anything!!!

    • There are international laws giving asylum seekers a certain amount of care, but sadly that is not the case with the people who defend our country.

      • It’s not that simple.
        Service men and women spend over 20 years in a tight-knit community, where every waking and sleeping breath is organised for them. The way of life many of them experience is quite alien compared with most of us; their main focus is killing an enemy.
        When the time comes for them to return to Civvy Street, the Army (Navy, Airforce) spends some time in helping them to adopt to civilian They are offered training in civilian jobs. They have a careers service.
        But some people find it difficult to change. After 20 years of a pretty intense way of living, suddenly they are on their own (literally, all too often). Despite paying off with a reasonable lump sum and a pension ( enough to rent a flat, at the very least), some ex-service people just can’t cope, and go off the rails.
        I have seen ut happen all too often, sometimes with tragic consequences.
        I think that the armed forces, having spent years training people to a very peculiar life style, need to do rather more than spend a couple of weeks reorientation and handing out a few careers pamphlets.

        • Indeed. I remember Battery Sergeant Major Williams in ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ finding everything a bit of a come down.

          • “It Ain’t Half Hot …” is a fictional comedy.
            Ian Warrington, on the other hand, is talking about real people.

  3. Ex service staff should be given any help they need ,without thought Maybe real world should thank ex service staff ,for the freedom he/she has today .I bet that person has served or thought about doing so, I’m back comes to mind ,ignorant person.I would like to post worse but it wouldn’t get published

  4. Shame he isn’t Ukrainian or Afghan as he would have been in with a shout of a brand new house at Westwood courtesy of our inclusive Council. Unfortunately serving our country doesn’t seem to count for much.

    • Having served our country, a serviceman would retire from the Forces with a lump sum and a decent pension.

    • Perhaps if “serving our country” doesn,t get you many benefits, perhaps we should urge young people not to risk it and to get a civilian job instead. There don’t seem to be all that many Army jobs available anyway. It doesn’t require many people to watch a screen and then push a button. As long as we don’t make the mistake of actually sending people to the other side of the world, we should be fairly safe. Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland weren’t exactly great successes, after all.

      • You know nothing about the military,to come out with a statement like that.Who do think looks after you

  5. Maybe it’s time for government to consider offering ex-sevicemen (and women!), accommodation in the barracks which the asylum seekers don’t want! Surely some of the now unused barracks could be revamped and offered at low rents for ex-service people. Better than being on the streets.

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