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New Forces in Mind Trust Report: Optimising the infrastructure in place to support the needs of veterans in Northern Ireland

A new report examining the support and service provision to the veteran population in Northern Ireland (NI), funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), was released today, 23 June 2017, by Ulster University. The report calls for the infrastructure in place to support veterans in NI to be better embedded in policy-making and statutory service delivery networks.

‘Supporting and Serving Military Veterans in Northern Ireland’ is the first output of the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Health and Wellbeing Study (NIVHWS); a large scale study into the health and wellbeing of NI veterans. The NIVHWS seeks to assess the current and future health and wellbeing needs of the veteran population in NI, outline the system of support currently available to NI veterans, and the identify ways in which this may be optimised. NIVHWS, which will run until 2019, will continue to produce outputs to address significant gaps in information about the support needs of the veteran population living in NI. It is the most comprehensive study ever to be produced on this topic.

‘Supporting and Serving Military Veterans in Northern Ireland’, launched today, identifies several areas crucial to service delivery to veterans: representation and advocacy; data collection and monitoring; referrals pathways and communication channels; more joined-up and collaborative working, and provision of veteran mental health services. Underpinning all of these issues, is the need to normalise the idea that veterans in the region are first and foremost citizens of NI who may have a specific set of needs. The report highlights four key areas where change should take place:

  1. Increasing awareness of veterans’ needs in statutory services
  2. Increasing trust in public services among the veteran population;
  3. Supporting and developing the existing infrastructure through targeted resources
  4. Providing a direct connection between on the ground service-providers and key decision makers.

To see this change, the report makes a number of recommendations. Some headlines include:

  • The establishment of an interagency, interdepartmental working group in the NI Executive Office with a strategic focus;
  • The establishment of designated contacts in regional agencies delivering health and social services in NI.
  • The clarification and strengthening of the role of the Veterans’ Champions in Local Government.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of FiMT, says: The “Supporting and Serving Military Veterans in Northern Ireland report launched today is the most comprehensive account available on the infrastructure supporting veterans in this region. It identifies, for the first time, the full scale and breadth of support and services available to the veteran population living in Northern Ireland and builds a detailed picture of how provision and legislation can be improved to better serve the community. Veterans across the United Kingdom deserve fair treatment, regardless of where they live, and that can only happen when we have a clear understanding of how fair treatment can be delivered, and what decisions are necessary to ensure that it is. The recommendations in this report cover the breadth of veteran services in Northern Ireland and provide a structure from which real change can be enacted. I look forward to further outputs from this important and ground-breaking project.”

Dr Cherie Armour, who led the report, says: “This report is the most comprehensive piece of evidence available to date on the infrastructure in place to support veterans living in Northern Ireland. The NIVHWS team employed a systematic, robust, and rigorous approach to collating the evidence required to write the report. Policy makers and service providers in NI understand the value of evidence in developing policy, designing interventions, and allocating funding; but to date this evidence has been lacking in the region. We hope this report and its recommendations speak to those in charge of service provision and policy development, and provide clear measures for supporting this group of citizens with a varied set of needs. Those working directly with veterans have played a significant role in the research and recommendations, and we have strengthened our relationships with these partners in the community.  This continues to inform and progress our next phase of work, which will give experiences of veterans in NI centre stage and shed yet more light on the issues facing this population.”

Read the full report here.

ENDS

Notes to editor 

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.  http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life, and it delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model around 6 outcomes in the following areas: Housing; Employment; Health and wellbeing; Finance; Criminal Justice System; and Relationships. All work is published in open access and will be hosted on the Veterans Research Hub at Anglia Ruskin University, which is going live in Summer 2017.  A high standard of reportage is demanded of all grant holders so as to provide a credible evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

Useful links

Website: www.fim-trust.org

Reports: www.fim-trust.org/reports/

Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/

Twitter: @FiMTrust

About the Mental Health Research Programme: www.fim-trust.org/mental-health/research-programme/

About Ulster University

Ranked in the top 3 per cent of universities worldwide, Ulster University is one of the top 150 global young universities under 50. Ulster University is a modern, forward-looking institution with student experience at the very heart of everything we do. Our high quality teaching, informed by world-leading research across key sectors, boosts the economy and has a positive impact on the lives of people around the world. For more information please visit www.ulster.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter @ulsteruni