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Q&A - meet the lettings professional doing his bit for army veterans

The property industry often gets a bad rep, despite all the work that agents and others in the sector do for good causes. One of the standout examples of this - for his work helping army veterans - is Craig Phillips, managing director of Barnsley-based lettings agency and property management firm G8 Property and a former armed forces veteran himself.

He is dedicated to improving the lot of armed forces personnel who have fallen on harder times, and raising awareness of the issue so that more homeless veterans can be rehomed.

Here, in this exclusive interview, we chat to Craig about his background, the work he does to help former members of the forces and whether the property industry could be doing more to both rehome and employ veterans. 


First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the property industry? 

I served in the Coldstream Guards [before entering property]. I have been involved in the renewable energy sector before starting a cold business in the lettings industry. G8 Property has now been going for seven years.

We know you've been doing some brilliant work for veterans with G8 Homes for Heroes - can you tell us more?

I came into work one day and there was a homeless man asleep in the car park to my office. I thought nothing of it, went into the office, turned the lights on, etc, made a brew and asked if he wanted to come in for a warm up before the staff arrived. We sat talking for some time before I realised that I served with him in Bosnia.

It was such a shame that he had ended up in this situation, but I put that down to not having the support after leaving the army. Many of the lads suffer in one way or another, but there is no help for them. With that, I paid for his rent personally, got him a new set of clothes and toiletries. I also got him help with his mental health. All of this was great and he did really well. But when Covid hit, he could not deal with the isolation and being alone and he commited suicide.

There was another guy that I helped after he was discharged from the forces after having a heart attack. We looked after him for seven years to the point where his health got so bad that we really needed help from other agencies, but the local authorities were just not interested. I then spent the next year complaining to anyone who would listen, to get this guy help.

It was only when he fell through a glass shower door that he ended up in hospital and it was reported. When he was waiting for an ambulance to take him to hospital, he had another stroke. From then, over 15 different agencies were involved in his care and to get him sorted, and I’m pleased to say he is doing really well. All this hard work was paid for by myself in time and supporting him. I even paid for my staff to go and sit with him so he had someone to talk to.

We also get female homeless veteran. The most recent one - I got a call on a Saturday night to say there was a veteran (female) sleeping outside the train station. While I was getting ready to go and find her, my wife but together a ladies toiletries bag for her with a towel (something I wouldn’t have thought about)

Dan Jarvis [the Labour MP for Barnsley Central since 2011, the current Shadow Minister for Justice and a former British army officer] has been very supportive over the years. He has even sent veterans to our office to see if there is any way that we can help. He attended my office to highlight the issue of homelessness in veterans, when I had some art painted on the side of my office. This went viral on social media with over 162,000 shares and thousands of comments.

What more can the sector, and the government, do to ensure army veterans aren't left homeless?

It's great that since it was first reported about the work I have been doing with veterans, other property investors have offered rooms and houses for a period of time for free. However, it is very few and far between. But I have continued to support them personally with no help from outside agencies. I don’t think that the government has an idea of how bad the situation is, and the burden that ex-veterans carry in their personal life day-to-day.

Are there potentially jobs/employment opportunities in the property world for ex-army personnel?

I have a number of companies that are willing to offer jobs to the veterans, but it needs to be a lot bigger than what’s on offer. I was talking to Mark Billingham [a former SAS solider and star of Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Wins] and he has a contract working on the railways. He is very proactive in helping veterans and has also said that the work I have been doing is fantastic.

How do you view the market at present? And where do you see it being a year from now?

My company manages a lot of HMOs and we have a good grasp on the market. The only issue for us is we can not get enough single lets, we have now been full for over two years and as soon as we get them on, they are let within a matter of hours. We have a waiting list that is only getting longer. I think the investment market will almost grind to a halt with the current mortgage situation.

Are you concerned about the impact rental reform, when it's eventually introduced, could have on the lettings sector?

No, not at all, things have changed a lot over the years and will continue to change, it’s about managing the changes and working with them.

Are you ever confused with Craig Phillips, Big Brother's first winner, who also has involvement in the property industry? 

At the beginning, yes, but now I think pretty much everyone in the industry knows who I am and the work I do.

Away from work and your charitable endeavours, what do you do to relax?

I love to go to log cabins in Yorkshire with my wife and dog (Daisy). We enjoy walking. I am going this weekend and taking my branch manager (to discuss work and plan the future).

*You can find out more about G8's Homes for Heroes initiative here

  • icon

    full of admiration for you Craig, truly wonderful work


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