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THE FORCES IN MIND TRUST AWARDS ITS LARGEST GRANT TO DATE

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), established to help ex-Service men and women make a successful transition back to civilian life, has awarded a grant of £689,453 to Venture Trust – the largest award by FiMT to-date – to fund its Positive Futures project.

Venture Trust is an Edinburgh-based charity that helps people with disadvantaged or challenging backgrounds get back on their feet.  It does this through intensive wilderness expeditions and life skills development support, with the aim being to give participants the tools to make positive changes in their lives.  That could be anything from finding a home, gaining skills to enable them to get a job, going to college, or getting help with addiction.

During an initial three-year trial, the Positive Futures programme will provide additional support to as many as 120 ex-Service men and women from across Scotland who are struggling to adapt with the transition to civilian life.

This will include those who are unemployed or in temporary accommodation, who struggle with low self-confidence or who have a history of drug and alcohol misuse.

Participants will be supported through a three phase programme.  The first phase – referral and engagement – will consist of one-to-one sessions that will provide participants with advice on employment, personal development and, where appropriate, referral to partners such as drug and alcohol treatment services.

The second phase is a specially designed ‘wilderness journey’ – a programme of personal development and learning in the outdoors with frequent one-to-one and group support sessions away from the challenges of everyday life.  Over an intensive five day course, participants will be given additional support to develop the transferable skills they need to rebuild their lives and move towards independence and employment.

Participants in the third and final phase will benefit from ongoing support focused on priorities for development including funded internships, employment support and volunteer peer mentoring, particularly to support others to move forward positively with their lives.

The impact of the project will be independently evaluated, with researchers assessing its impact on participants’ lives and whether its methodology can be extended.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The ex-Service community has a diverse range of needs and it is important that they have access to the right kind of tailored support that can ease the sometimes difficult process of transition. We are delighted to be funding Venture Trust, which is our biggest award to date and our second grant award in Scotland.  We believe the Positive Futures programme will make a real difference to the lives of ex-Service personnel.

“The project will also involve an independent evaluation of the Programme to generate a robust evidence base. We are keen that the learning from this Programme is used more widely by other service delivers, ensuring that any men and women who have served in the Armed Forces and struggle with the return to civilian life get the support they need.“

Mark Bibbey, Chief Executive of Venture Trust, said: “As a former Serviceman, I recognised early on in my time at the Venture Trust that we had the potential to add significant value to the experiences of veterans who are struggling with the transition process, particularly some of those who are proving difficult to engage.  Our approach and methodology is unique in terms of what is currently available to veterans and I envisage working closely with the Veterans Scotland community in bringing the programme to fruition. I am very grateful to the Forces in Mind Trust for their support and I much look forward to working with them over the next three years to enable those who participate to realise their potential in society, and to add to our understanding of what works for those struggling to transition into civilian life.”

– Ends –

Notes to Editors
For more information, please contact:

  • Talia Cohen at The PR Office on tcohen@theproffice.com/ direct dial: 0207 284 6957
  • Jess Whistance at Venture Trust on Jessica@venturetrust.org.uk / 01209 844 644

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

  • FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (The Fund), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012. Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.
  • The aim of FiMT is to provide an evidence base which will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.
  • FiMT awards grants (both reactive and proactive) and commissions research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration. All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made. Read more about those FiMT have helped and reports they have published at the links below:

About Venture Trust

Venture Trust believes that people have the ability to make positive changes in their lives for a more productive future.  Venture Trust supports people who are struggling with complicated life circumstances such as being ‘looked after’ by Local Authorities, involvement in offending, homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse, caring responsibilities and other complications in their lives.  These situations are often compounded by lack of access to services or low educational achievement, leaving them isolated, marginalised or in poverty.  Venture Trust offers a three-phase personal and social development programme, working in communities across Scotland. The programme involves an intensive wilderness-based element, mentoring, and employability support which aims to help people unlock their potential. This may be better communication skills, consequential thinking and building positive relationships with others, growing in confidence and self-esteem, or moving towards education, training and employment.  For more information, please visit www.venturetrust.org.uk.

NATIONAL REVIEW ASSESSES NEEDS FOR VETERANS’ MENTAL HEALTH

At an event in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Patel of Bradford,  Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has today launched a report which, for the first time, provides a summary of the extent to which the mental health needs of military veterans and their families are currently being assessed and supported in England.  NHS England welcomes this report and will work with others to support the improvements recommended.

Funded by a charitable grant of £75,000 from FiMT, and in collaboration with NHS England and Community Innovations Enterprise (CIE), the report provides a systematic national review of veterans’ and family members’ mental and related Health Needs Assessments carried out in England by local authorities.  This work was done in order to address gaps in knowledge and understanding and to help ensure the NHS’s valuable resources are spent wisely.  The primary focus of the review is on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) which provide analysis of the health needs of populations in order to inform and guide commissioning of health, wellbeing and social care services within local authority areas.

The report identifies three areas for priority action and a number of key findings, one of which highlights some methodological problems with JSNAs which has resulted in significant gaps in coverage of veterans’ health needs.  The importance of this finding is to ensure that the health needs of this group can be adequately addressed in Health and Wellbeing Strategies. The report also shows a fundamental need for organisations with specific expertise, including wider NHS partners, service providers, GPs and armed forces charities, to work together to encourage a more easily accessible and integrated care pathway (which is of particular relevance for those veterans presenting mental and related health needs combined with a complex range of behavioural problems and/or social care problems).

Highlights of the ‘priority for action’ framework include:

  1. Targeted and intelligent use of data and information

The variations in coverage of veterans’ mental and related health needs in JSNAs across England may mean that national guidance on how to effectively ensure these needs are addressed is required.  This could include specific advice on how to address the methodological issues identified in the report.

  1. Appropriate and sensitive evidence-based services

Specialist veterans’ mental health services should continue to form an important part of the care pathway but further development of appropriate and sensitive evidence-based services for veterans and family members, including reservists, will require care pathway improvements.  Such improvements may include less restrictive access criteria that can enable services to better respond to complex needs, and new liaison and partnership working between the various stakeholders by establishing forums, such as learning collaboratives, which could utilize a possible pool of clinicians who are veterans or family members of veterans working in the NHS and who may be willing to act as champions and lead advisors within a structured learning programme.

  1. Involvement and participation of veterans and family members

There is a need to further strengthen the involvement of veterans and family members in local area service developments to ensure that they have a strong voice.

Kate Davies, Head of Armed Forces Commissioning at NHS England, said:  “We welcome this report which will help colleagues in Public Health England, Local Government and Clinical Commissioning Groups to better understand the needs for the armed forces community in their local areas.  We will also work with service users, carers and providers from all sectors, including the charities, to improve services. This will be particularly for those with complex needs, for families and for other groups whose needs may not be as visible, such as reservists.”

 Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock, said:  “This JHNA further builds our evidence base and has given us not only an important insight, but a vital framework for the Military and Healthcare communities to better work together. This research complements our newly-launched Mental Health Research Programme and we look forward to working with the NHS and CIE on future projects.”

ENDS

For further information on Forces in Mind Trust or to interview Ray Lock, please contact Talia Cohen at The PR Office on tcohen@theproffice.com / mobile:  07887 512 840 / direct dial: 027 284 6957.

For further information on NHS England’s role, case studies or interviews,  please contact NHS England Press Office on england.media@nhs.net  0113 8250957

Notes to Editors:

Background

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have the overall responsibility for commissioning healthcare for veterans. However some mental health and prosthetic Services were funded by the Department of Health but these duties with their funding have been passed to NHS England since April 2013.  A review of which mental health services are best commissioned nationally under what arrangements will be carried out in 2016.

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

  • FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (The Fund), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012. Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.
  • The aim of FiMT is to provide an evidence base which will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.
  • FiMT awards grants (both reactive and proactive) and commissions research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration. All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made. Read more about those FiMT have helped and reports they have published at the links below:

FORCES IN MIND TRUST LAUNCHES A MULTI-MILLION POUND MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH PROGRAMME FOR EX-SERVICE PERSONNEL AND THEIR FAMILIES

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), established in 2012 to help ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful transition back to civilian life, is pleased to announce the launch of its Mental Health Research Programme with an annual disbursement of £1 million for up to 5 years.

Amongst the founding priorities of the Trust are ‘to promote better mental health and well-being’ and ‘to build organisations’ capacity to deliver evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation’.  Since then, FiMT has worked hard to develop an understanding of the mental health environment, and to identify where the Trust can best deploy its finite resources to maximum effect.  As a result, FiMT has established a Mental Health Research Programme in collaboration with the Centre for Mental Health and the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), part of King’s College London.

The Programme is being overseen by a steering group of experts, co-chaired by Professor Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, and Professor Sir Simon Wessely, co-Director of KCMHR, King’s College London, and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and incorporates strict protocols on handling the almost inevitable conflicts of interest that work in the field of veterans’ mental health throws up.  Other group members include representatives from Combat Stress, Mental Health Foundation, Veterans First Point, Anglia Ruskin University’s Veterans and Families Institute, University College London, University of Portsmouth and NHS England.

The steering group recommends the Programme’s strategic direction, and provides expert assessment to FiMT of relevant project proposals.  A key output from the steering group is the programme’s top 6 research priorities, which have now been published (in equal rank order) by FiMT as follows:

  • Alcohol and substance misuse, including effective and appropriate interventions.
  • The usefulness of services aimed specifically at veterans (including peer support workers).
  • Methods to improve help-seeking rates, and barriers to help-seeking.
  • The efficacy of military and veteran charities to provide effective mental health support.
  • The effectiveness of a ‘Recovery’ based model for the veteran population, including a wider focus on employment and debt management.
  • Impact on families, including aggressive behaviour, violence and domestic abuse.

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, said: “We know that most Armed Forces veterans make a successful transition to civilian life, but that some face a range of mental health difficulties for which they need extra support.  We are delighted to be working with the Forces in Mind Trust to develop research that will build the evidence base about how best to support ex-Service personnel and their families with their mental health needs.”

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London, said: “King’s College London is delighted to be assisting the Forces in Mind Trust on this task.  It is very difficult to over emphasise the important role of research in improving the health and well being of ex-Service men and women.  Everyone wants to help and support our veteran community, but knowing what actually helps, for how long and why, remains crucial.   And that is why we need research to guide investment for the future.”

The formal launch of this new Mental Health Research Programme coincides with the announcement of the first two awards.

  • FiMT has awarded a grant of £396,828 to Ulster University:

Dr Cherie Armour of Ulster University will conduct a 3-year study into the mental health needs of ex-Service personnel living in Northern Ireland, and the associated services delivered, entitled: ‘Mental Health Needs of the ‘Hidden Veteran Community’ in Northern Ireland’.  This research will directly address the mental health needs of veterans living in Northern Ireland by developing and implementing a large scale survey, which will assess not only mental health factors but also aspects such as coping styles and help-seeking abilities. The survey results will, for the first time, directly inform policy makers and service providers in Northern Ireland in relation to veteran mental health concerns and associated factors.

  • FiMT has awarded a grant of £190,595 to King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) at King’s College London:

Dr Sharon Stevelink from KCMHR will undertake an 18-month study into the internal and external barriers experienced by ex-Service personnel accessing mental health services.  Dr Stevelink’s study will draw on KCMHR’s MOD-funded longitudinal cohort project, and the findings will be used to inform policy makers and service deliverers across many aspects, such as anti-stigma information campaigns, and inter-agency handover procedures.

Dr Armour, Ulster University, said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding under FiMT’s newly established Mental Health Research programme.  Securing this funding provides us with an opportunity to examine the mental health needs of the Northern Irish veteran community for the first time ever.  Directly in-line with FiMT’s objective we will be able to promote better mental health and well-being in the Northern Irish veteran community by providing an evidence base which will inform policy makers and service providers who in turn can ensure that service provision is matched to need.  We look forward to working with service providers and veterans in Northern Ireland and we look forward to developing a clear evidence base which will influence and promote positive change for veterans living in Northern Ireland.”

Dr Sharon Stevelink from King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, said: “We are delighted to receive this award and look forward to working together with FiMT to facilitate the smooth transition of Service personnel into civilian life.  A substantial amount of work has been carried out exploring the impact of stigma and barriers to mental health care services among those currently serving in the UK Armed Forces, but as yet, we know relatively little about this important topic in the veteran population.  The KCMHR is therefore pleased to be able to work with FiMT to carry out research into this subject which we very much hope will lead to substantial benefits for the way veterans’ mental health care is delivered in the UK.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “As with the approach we take to all our work, we have first invested time, intellectual capacity and modest sums to make sure that we understand how best to use our resources to effect positive change.  Our new Mental Health Research Programme will deliver robust and credible evidence that, by influencing policy makers and service deliverers, will make a significant contribution to the mental health and well-being of ex-Service personnel and their families.  The role of King’s College London and Centre for Mental Health in consolidating and distilling the expert steering group’s views, has proved to be the critical enabler for this work, and we are absolutely delighted to be in partnership with them.”

“The awards to Ulster University and the King’s Centre for Military Health Research, between them totalling almost £600k, really demonstrate the capacity Forces in Mind Trust has, and is willing to use, to improve mental health and well-being, and in particular for those who are most vulnerable.”

– Ends –

Notes to Editors
For more information, please contact: Talia Cohen at The PR Office on tcohen@theproffice.com / direct dial: 0207 284 6957

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

  • FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘The Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012. Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.
  • The aim of FiMT is to provide an evidence base which will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.
  • FiMT awards grants (both reactive and proactive) and commissions research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration. All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made. Read more about those FiMT have helped and reports they have published at the links below: