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Call of the wild making a difference for ex-Service personnel struggling with civilian life

A programme for Veterans – centred on the Scottish wilderness –has made significant improvement to participants’ lives while also being cost-effective and high value for money, new research has highlighted. The programme has delivered overall benefit impacts to society in the region of £2.6m to £4m; for every £1 spent, £4.56 of societal benefit impact has been generated.

Venture Trust’s Positive Futures Model is a combination of cognitive behavioural approaches, experiential learning, skilled facilitation, relationship building, coaching, mentoring and aftercare. It is delivered through a three-phased programme in the community and in the wilds of Scotland.

Positive Futures has been independently evaluated by GAP Communications for the past three years. During that time Venture Trust has supported 90 veterans and the programme has the potential to support hundreds more in the coming years.

Some of the key research findings from GAP Communications’ evaluation include:

• 0% of ex-Service personnel who participated in Positive Futures have re-offended following the programme.
• 43% of participants have since entered into employment, education or training.
• Over a third (34%) of participants who were homeless or in insecure accommodation are now sustaining their own tenancy.
• Improved mental health for participants has led to more openness with family members and calmer, happier households.
• The overall benefit impact to society through a) reduction in interactions with state services (reduced costs) and b) moving into the workplace (tax gains) or volunteering is calculated to be over £2m. The average benefit impact is over £45k per person.
• The programme has delivered overall benefit impacts to society in the region of £2.6m to £4m; for every £1 spent, £4.56 of societal benefit impact has been generated.
• The model, if replicated, would work with veterans needing support in other parts of the UK.

Referrers have said the service appeals to ex-servicemen and women who refuse to engage with therapeutic programmes but who will engage with an outdoors programme.

Positive Futures was funded by a grant of £689,453 from the Forces in Mind Trust. The programme creates a therapeutic environment where those participants with mental health issues (frequently part of a complex presenting set) can identify behaviour triggers and develop, and practice, coping strategies as a foundation for making and sustaining positive life changes.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The funding for the Positive Futures programme is the largest grant awarded to date by the Forces in Mind Trust. The measure of its success will be the lasting change that it brings to those who undergo the experience.

“The Report provides evidence of a model that can be used to help some of the most challenged ex-Service personnel make a successful and sustainable transition into civilian life. This proven effective model should be expanded so that every ex-Service man and woman across the United Kingdom who needs it, can easily access and gain benefit from it.”

Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive of Venture Trust, said: “We are delighted to share the findings of the Positive Futures programme and its impact for ex-servicemen and women who may have struggled in civilian life. This work represents three years of collaboration to reach those individuals in need and a shared goal of sustained positive change to ensure a civilian life which is fuller, with improved wellbeing and a renewed sense of purpose. We hope that the proof of concept that is Positive Futures and the research findings offer fresh insight and recommendations to enhance support for individuals who struggle with transition. We are hugely grateful to FiMT, the Armed Forces Covenant, partners in Scotland and particularly the ex-service men and women who took part in the programme.”

The report also contains some recommendations for the Veterans’ support sector:

• Sustain and replicate the methodology of the programme through continued investment and effective marketing to ex-Service personnel and also their families.
• Find ‘hidden veterans’ through the collection and sharing of data between services and develop more rigorous enquiries regarding Armed Forces history.
• Higher levels of inter-agency co-operation and partnership across the military and non-military services’ sectors.
• The Armed Forces look at introducing, based on the markers identified in the research, a mechanism to identify, and monitor those at risk of poor transition from point of application and throughout an individual’s career.

You can read the full report here.

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Research reveals the complex nature of transition from the Armed Forces

A study released today, Thursday 1st November, by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has revealed that more awareness about the demands of transition is needed for families of Service leavers.

The report contains a list of recommendations including the need for:

  • A shift in culture (for policy makers, service providers, Service leavers and families themselves), which better appreciates the breadth of transition and the need to engage with it from an earlier point in a Service leaver’s career.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of advance planning.
  • An education piece to cover transition entitlement and processes.
  • Tailoring support to families’ specific needs.

The report, the first to specifically look at the lived experience of Service families, reveals the complex nature of transition and affirms the six ‘elements’ of transition: housing, health, education and children, employment, finances and wellbeing.

Authors of the report – the Naval, Army and RAF Families Federations – highlight the need for further research to better understand specific cohorts of families such as Foreign & Commonwealth, those whose Service leaver is being medically discharged and the challenges faced by Service children.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“The process of transition is not solely about the Service personnel, it affects the entire family unit. What has become clear, from the library of research funded by FiMT, is that the earlier planning for leaving the Armed Forces starts, the more successful and sustainable is the transition.

“The recommendations within this report highlight the need to do more to ensure that the families of Service personnel are given the support required to successfully navigate the transition pathway.”

Sara Baade, Chief Executive, Army Families Federation said:

“The Army Families Federation is very grateful to FiMT for the opportunity to conduct much-needed research showing more needs to be done to support those going through transition out of the military. This work strengthens existing evidence in this area and the report’s recommendations are invaluable in supporting the case for improved resources and services that families can use to ensure their transition is successful, whatever their make-up. This key evidence also supports the Veterans’ Strategy announced by the Defence Secretary earlier this year; those transitioning out of the Forces are the veterans of tomorrow, and ensuring families overcome the many challenges transition can pose goes some way to ensuring a successful civilian life.”

Anna Wright, CEO Naval Families Federation, said:

“The unique nature of Naval Service life is reflected by the ‘can do’ attitude of our families. However, it doesn’t automatically follow that all Naval Service families find the transition process to be without challenge. This report provides those in decision making roles with an insightful and honest bank of information to help support their thinking and consider the needs of Naval Service families when reviewing or updating appropriate policies.

“We are hugely grateful to all the families who took part in the research, offering their time and

sharing their ‘lived experience’ to inform this report.”

Graeme Spark, Acting Director, RAF FF said:

“We have been delighted to have been part of this project – understanding completely the need for a holistic approach to transition to best support RAF families now and in the future. We now look forward to helping deliver where we can some of its recommendations.”

You can read the full report here.

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FiMT sponsors King’s Centre for Military Health Research 2019 Veterans’ Mental Health Conference

Military Mental Health Annual Conference Speakers and Programme Announced

Forces in Mind Trust is sponsoring the King’s Centre for Military Health Research Annual Veterans’ Mental Health Conference, for a fourth consecutive year.

The 2019 event, entitled “Evidence, Innovation and Practice”, has a stellar line up of UK and international speakers, including a contribution by the BBC’s Defence Correspondent, Jonathan Beale, on the media’s view of mental health and the military.

Tickets are now available. Access all the conference details and booking information, including the concessionary ticket rate for Cobseo Full and Associate members, here.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“This is the fourth year that Forces in Mind Trust has sponsored the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference and we are proud to do so. The subject for the 2019 conference embodies what FiMT is all about: evidence leading to lasting change.”

“As a Trust we can fund an abundance of research; but unless our recommendations are put into practice, the potential impact of our work is constrained and we will be unable to fully achieve our aim of enabling all ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition.”

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Recruitment opens for leadership development programme for the Armed Forces charities sector

Clore Social Leadership has announced today, Thursday 11th October 2018, details of its 2019 Cobseo Emerging Leader Programme designed in partnership with the Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo) and the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

Aimed at emerging leaders working in the Armed Forces and Service charities sector, the programme seeks to build agile, resilient, and effective leadership, while consolidating solidarity, collaboration, and joint action within the sector. Drawing on all aspects of Clore Social’s Social Leaders’ Capabilities Framework, the programme is designed to help leaders become more empowered, focused, and generous, and gain a greater understanding of their strengths, abilities and preferences.

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust said:

‘We are delighted to support the second run of the Cobseo Emerging Leader Programme. Leadership development, such as this excellent Clore programme, enables committed individuals to enhance their abilities and transform their organisations. Through investing in the development of strong and adaptive leadership, FiMT can help increase the sector’s effectiveness and ultimately improve the outcomes for the organisations’ beneficiaries. This is exactly the type of innovative and system changing approach we were established to take’.

The programme will run for 6 months and is structured to fit around existing leadership commitments, providing a blended approach which allows for self-directed learning, while offering the opportunity to work together with a group of peers who will support, challenge and inspire each other.

Fraser Gilmore, 2017 Cobseo Emerging Leader Fellow has emphasised the benefits of working and learning with other leaders:

“I understand the context of leadership in the third sector better and this has helped me grow in my role. Meeting other leaders in the sector has expanded my network and that of the organisation which has led to some interesting conversations about future work. This has created better collaboration which can only be good for the sector”

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive of Clore Social Leadership said: ‘We know that effective leadership leads to stronger, more resilient and successful communities. This is why we are very excited to continue to work with the Service charities sector. Developing these dedicated future leaders will ensure their organisations adapt and thrive in times of change’.

Applications are now open with 24 places available for emerging leaders with a minimum of 3 years’ experience leading a team, department, or organisation in the social sector. Senior leaders from sector organisations are invited to nominate their most determined and talented people eager to expand their leadership skills and make a lasting difference in their organisations and sector.

For more information and to apply, please visit:

https://www.cloresocialleadership.org.uk/news-insights/launching-our-cobseo-emerging-leader-programme-for-the-armed-forces-charities-sector

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Minister of Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood MP delivers keynote speech at inaugural FiMT Research Centre Conference

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) held its inaugural Research Centre Conference today, Thursday 11th October, at Church House, Westminster and presented two awards for excellence in research.

Over 100 delegates from across the academic, Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces sectors attended, with a host of speakers including Lord Ashcroft, who was the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Veterans’ Transition from 2012 to 2018 and conducted the Veterans’ Transition Review.

The Lord Ashcroft Veterans’ Research Award went to Shared Intelligence for their ‘Our Community – Our Covenant’ project, and the FiMT Research Centre Award for Most Impactful Research went to Community Innovations Enterprise LLP for their ‘Call to Mind’ project series. Both have influenced policy makers, led to further research projects and have had an impact on services provided to veterans.

The Research Centre was launched last year to support the research needs of the Armed Forces Community. The Centre’s purpose is to facilitate research in the UK that deepens shared understanding and develops links between the academic community, government organisations, statutory and voluntary service providers, the media, and the public.

To help toward this purpose, the Veterans and Families Research Hub (VFR Hub) is part of the Centre. This is an easily-searchable and free-to-use online resource offering an authoritative source of research-related information on ex-Service personnel and their families. The VFR Hub was jointly established and initially funded by Lord Ashcroft and FiMT.

Lord Ashcroft said: “One of the main findings from my work on veterans’ transition was the need for a source of good, reliable, authoritative and easily accessible research and information on service leavers, veterans and their families. That is why we established the Veterans’ Research Hub, whose work is providing a solid basis of evidence for policymakers and will help to combat some of the myths and misapprehensions about veterans that can make the transition to civilian life harder than it needs to be. I am delighted to support this conference and congratulate the award winners for their exemplary work.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This is the first conference that the FiMT Research Centre has held. The opportunity to assemble researchers already interested in the Armed Forces Community in one place will foster collaboration and develop links which will lead to more research projects and ideas. This will enable the Forces in Mind Trust to utilise the results of research to influence policy makers and services providers as we seek to improve the transition pathway and thus succeed in our objective that all ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition back to civilian life.”

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New research highlights challenges Veterans face in becoming self-employed

New report calls for broader support from the MOD to help Service personnel transitioning out of the Forces and into self-employment

A new report, ‘Self-employment and the Armed Forces Community’, has revealed the barriers ex-Service personnel face in becoming self-employed after leaving the Armed Forces.

Research conducted by The Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, supported by defence technology company QinetiQ and X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) – which supports entrepreneurship in the military community – and funded by Forces in Mind Trust, was carried out to understand what more could be done to support ex-Service personnel successfully move into self-employment.

The report is being launched today (10th October) at the X-Forces Enterprise fifth Anniversary event at the London Stock Exchange.

The findings show that self-employment is highly desirable among veterans, with being their own boss the most attractive aspect. However, many veterans become self-employed years after leaving the Services, often as a result of disillusionment with their experiences in paid civilian employment. The survey of veterans, targeted towards those who had already moved into self-employment or had considered it upon leaving, and those currently transitioning into civilian life, found that 43% of veterans said they had planned to become self-employed on leaving the Forces, compared to 55% who said they’d seek full-time employment.

However, the research also highlights a number of barriers the ex-Service community face in becoming successfully self-employed including:

–        A lack of understanding of commercial environments and skills like marketing and communications

–        Lack of finance – with many experiencing difficulties in getting loans and having to use their own savings

–        Difficulty translating the skills they learned in the Forces into a commercial environment

–        Difficulty adapting to a civilian environment – where there was considered to be less teamwork and an overarching focus on money

–        Reality falling short of expectations – with some finding it much harder than expected

The report points to the need for better support, information and advice from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as Service personnel transition out of the Armed Forces – about the realities and practicalities of working in the civilian labour market

Asked when support would be most useful, six months before leaving the Armed Forces and two years after leaving were seen as the most crucial times – showing the importance of having long-term support to ensure the transition succeeds.

The report calls on the MOD to invest more resources into supporting members of the Armed Forces in transitioning successfully into the civilian labour market, and particularly into being self-employed. This includes the suggestion of a ‘skills for life’ package for all veterans which gives support on how to pay bills, buy a house, manage finances and tax, as well as training in soft skills, people skills and commercial skills. It also calls for wider use of mentors, the wider promotion of Enhanced Learning Credits to ensure veterans are aware of their entitlements; and for longer-term support including access to top-up training up to 24 months after leaving.

Ren Kapur MBE, CEO and Founder of X-Forces Enterprise said:

“We’ve seen the incredible impact that self-employment can have on veterans and are proud of the work we’ve been carrying out for five years to empower ex-service men and women to reach their full potential. This research shows that challenges remain, but we were incredibly encouraged to see how many of the recommendations made are already being taken forward by organisations like ours. We welcome this in-depth look at the challenges faced by potential entrepreneurs, and look forward to helping even more veterans in the years to come.”

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust said:

“What is clear from this report is the need for broader support, advice and practical training for Service personnel before they leave the Armed Forces, and for sometime afterwards, if they are to successfully transition into the civilian labour market, and particularly into self-employment. This report contains a number of ideas of how the MOD and others can provide such support and we look forward to working together to take some of these ideas forward, such as through the recently announced Defence Transition Service.”

Professor Clare Lyonette from the Institute of Employment Research at the University of Warwick said:

“Military service develops unique skills and competencies which can underpin a successful transition into self-employment. However, our research participants reported a range of challenges which they encountered while trying to translate their skills into a civilian context.
The barriers and challenges reported to us highlight the need for a targeted, needs-based approach to support in transition – not all veterans will require the same levels of help. We hope that the practical recommendations we outline will make a real difference to all members of the Armed Forces Community, including military partners and reservists, as well as veterans.”

The research includes a full literature review looking at international comparisons and available data, as well as fresh qualitative and quantitative research with veterans, military partners and reservists.

You can read the full report here

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FiMT to support six Specialist Fellows on Clore Social’s 2019 Experienced Leader Programme

Clore Social Leadership has opened recruitment for its 2019 Experienced Leader Programme. The one-year programme, starting in February, is open to individuals with six or more years’ experience as a social sector leader and the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has pledged support for six funded Specialist Fellowships.

The Experienced Leader Programme helps build social leadership capabilities, confidence, effectiveness, self-awareness, resilience and overall impact through working with others, and comprises a number of activities including executive coaching, action learning and a secondment.  The FiMT Fellowships aim to promote leadership within and connections between the military and social sectors, for those who have ambition to drive social change in their communities and organisations and have an interest in the Armed Forces Community.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“We are delighted to continue the support for the Clore programme for Experienced Leaders that we began in 2015. This opportunity will further grow our cohort of some 10 Clore FiMT specialist fellows, and we know will offer great benefits to the individuals involved and their respective organisations.  If we invest in the leaders of today we will increase the capability of the sector to make innovative and lasting change.”

Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive of Clore Social Leadership said:

“The Armed Forces and Service Charities sector is a great example of like-minded organisations working together to address shared challenges by supporting and investing in their current and future leaders. We are delighted that the Forces in Mind Trust is supporting our 2019 Experienced Leader Programme and look forward to working with a new cohort of FiMT supported leaders over the next year.”

For more information and to apply see https://www.cloresocialleadership.org.uk/programmes/experienced-leader-programme.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD in ex-Service personnel

Thanks to a grant award of £97,444 by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) to Edinburgh Napier University, an innovative research project will test how prevalent a new type of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), known as Complex PTSD (CPTSD)*, is in ex-Service personnel in order to provide more appropriate treatment.

This is the first study to test the theory on ex-Service personnel, though 10 previous studies have supported there being a difference between the two disorders. CPTSD culminates from childhood trauma and multiple traumatisation and there is a need for a different treatment approach to PTSD.

Previous research has shown CPTSD often requires a more lengthy, well-coordinated treatment plan with different interventions than that offered to those suffering non-complex PTSD.

There is evidence to suggest a substantially high percentage of military personnel will have been exposed to childhood trauma and/or multiple combat stressors commonly associated with CPTSD and, following various studies suggesting veterans with PTSD have poorer treatment responses to non-veterans, researchers of this study believe the reason for this is that many veterans would meet the criteria for CPTSD and as such, require a different treatment approach for it to be successful.

Researchers will determine the prevalence of this new category of PTSD in UK ex-Service personnel for the first time using the International Trauma Questionnaire. This will determine if there are distinct groups of participants with symptoms reflecting the two differing sibling disorders of PTSD and CPTSD, and will determine how presentations of PTSD and CPTSD differ in these groups.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“This is highly significant research that will enable more tailored treatment to be provided to ex-Service personnel suffering Complex PTSD. Findings from this project have the potential to transform how the post-Service community are cared for in the UK, improving the well-being of the individuals concerned, and indirectly the quality of life of their families.”

Professor Thanos Karatzias, Professor of Mental Health and Director of Research at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“We are really excited to have received funding to explore the newly released ICD-11 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD (CPTSD) in military personnel for the very first time. CPTSD requires a different, more intensive treatment approach than PTSD but at the moment it is unknown how many people are affected by it. By describing the nature and extent of these two conditions, we will be in a better position to describe how to triage veterans presenting with traumatic stress in order to identify those individuals who require more intensive treatment.

“We envisage that findings from this study will help improve service user experiences of treatment, reduce treatment drop-out and improve treatment outcomes for veterans with CPTSD.”

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Novel approach sees success in treating former Service personnel with PTSD

A new approach in offering treatment to former Service personnel with mental health conditions including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) launched today, Thursday 6th September, has revealed positive results.

A year-long tele-therapy pilot study, funded by The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and undertaken by Combat Stress, has shown it to be an accessible, flexible and cost-effective approach to delivering trauma-focused therapies. Tele-therapy provides therapy through a live video connection, over the internet such as Skype.

The purpose was to trial an alternative type of therapy to overcome issues that prevent veterans from seeking help. Despite there being a higher prevalence of mental health difficulties among former service personnel compared to the general population, research of UK veterans has suggested that only 30-50% of those with mental health issues access services for support. A number of reasons have been suggested for this, including issues related to stigma, practical issues around not being able to access services due to time constraints, and not knowing where to turn for support.

Evidence from the tele-therapy study shows it to be an accessible, flexible and cost-effective approach to delivering trauma-focused therapies.

Recommendations were made by Dr Dominic Murphy, lead author of the study, about using tele-therapy to treat more veterans in future, these include:

  • Preparing veterans for the demands of the therapy.
  • Ensuring tele-therapy is offered formally in the same way as outpatient therapy, e.g. a formal attendance and appointment policy.
  • Allowing flexibility by creating evening appointments to ensure veterans can attend.
  • Having a clear protocol to deal with technical difficulties, such as poor internet connection, which can result in sudden termination of therapy-session communication.

Veterans attending Combat Stress’ treatment centres were invited to take part in tele-therapy, with a total of 54 people asked, resulting in 27 participants.

Data was collected about treatment uptake, attendance, drop-out rates, time to complete therapy and the cost per case. Quantitative analyses were used to assess the effectiveness of tele-therapy using self-report measures of PTSD, anxiety, depression, anger and alcohol use.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The findings from this pilot study show that tele-therapy is an approach to treatment that could benefit ex-Service personnel, in particular those who find it difficult to engage in face-to-face therapy. The recommendations and lessons learned in this trial offer an opportunity for policymakers and service providers to take tele-therapy forward as a cost-effective, feasible and acceptable service for UK Veterans with PTSD.”

Dr Dominic Murphy, Head of Research at Combat Stress and lead author of the study, said: “We were pleased with our results. Importantly, we had positive feedback from veterans telling us they found tele-therapy to be a good way to receive support.  Several people told us that they were not able to engage in face-to-face therapy but tele-therapy allowed to them to complete treatment.”

You can read the full report here

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