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FiMT awards funds to Barnardo’s to evaluate the needs of imprisoned ex-Service personnel and their families

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) is delighted to announce an award of £91,707 to Barnardo’s to assess the needs of ex-Service personnel and their families who are serving, or have served, a custodial prison sentence.

Focusing on the Southwest and West Midlands areas, the project will access the connections that Barnardo’s have already developed in HMPs, the Criminal Justice System and Armed Forces charities.

The 18-month study will consist of interviews with ex-Service personnel and their children and families to ascertain the need, unmet need, the availability of support services and the impact of imprisonment.

Professionals working with the cohort will also be interviewed to identify needs of ex-Service personnel in custody, understand their current skills and knowledge in relation to supporting prisoners and their families, and to explore the challenges of cross-sector working.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “While the majority of Service leavers transition positively, there is a minority; which includes those who have spent time in custody, and their families, who have a more difficult time on the pathway to civilian life.

“We know from our previous work that successful transition is more likely when there is a stable family in place, and we are pleased to be partnering with Barnardo’s, whose considerable experience and expertise in this field will enable an impactful project.

“This study will enable service providers and policy makers to better inform their decision-making process and ensure that the ex-Service personnel who have a custodial sentence are not slipping through the net.”

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, said: “Through our specialist services we know that children with a parent in prison are some of the most overlooked and isolated in the UK, and have disrupted childhoods that can ruin their life chances. They are innocent victims but often end up being punished.

“We are delighted with this funding from the Forces in Mind Trust which will enable us to produce clear guidance on the needs of veterans and their families to ensure that their needs are met effectively by both the criminal justice system and the agencies that support them.”

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Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub. 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 Barnardo’s

Last year 272,000 children, young people and families were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.

Barnardo’s works to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year helps thousands of families to build a better future.

Barnardo’s works with several prisons running visit centres, family days and parenting programmes that strengthen family relationships and help prepare for the return home. It also works with schools and other services and to help re-integrate the offender back into the family on release.

Visit www.barnardos.org.uk to find out how you can get involved. Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605

Follow Barnardo’s media team on Twitter @BarnardosNews

Armed Forces charities – just a click away

A new website, developed by the Directory of Social Change (DSC), for exploring Armed Forces Charities in the UK goes live today, Thursday 26th April. The online directory has information, statistics, infographics and unique research on hundreds of charities serving thousands of people.

The Forces in Mind Trust funded website is a key resource for policy makers, researchers, media, governments and charities – or anyone with an interest in the UK’s Armed Forces charities.

Search the directory and explore the data

Users can search for information on over 1,600 charities and associated branches, using an intuitive search tool producing clear results. Each charity in the directory has its own record with key information which is updated regularly.

The website includes an interactive data page, where users can check out analysis and learn more about the charities. New data and insights will feature regularly in this section.

Read ground-breaking research

DSC has been publishing ground-breaking research regarding the Armed Forces Charity sector since 2014, including five downloadable reports, each accompanied by infographics and fact sheets. For accessibility, each report is also condensed into easy read four-page research briefs.

The website has dedicated sections for each report topic, where you can learn about what the charities provide, including: mental health, education and employment, and physical health. There is also research on charities in Scotland and an overview of UK charities. More research is coming soon – keep an eye out for our section on housing provision, coming summer 2018!

Stuart Cole, Research Manager at DSC, said: “This website is the new home for DSC’s ever-growing body of research. The topical nature of our reports and our directory of charities combines here to illuminate the work of charities serving the armed forces community. It’s a must-read and a must-view for anyone interested in the topic.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This exciting new resource developed by the Directory of Social Change will be a valuable tool for policy makers, media commentators, service providers and other charities. It epitomizes our approach to presenting decision makers with the best knowledge and evidence available, and it offers a credible alternative to anecdote, hyperbole and fake news. We look forward to seeing how this information is utilised, how the site develops and the impact our funding will have achieved.”

You can access the website at www.armedforcescharities.org.uk

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Note to Editor:  Stuart Cole, is available for comment or interview via scole@dsc.org.uk or 0151 708 0136.

Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

About DSC: Founded in 1974, the Directory of Social Change (DSC) is a national charity which champions an independent voluntary sector through campaigning, training and publications. DSC is the largest supplier of information and training to the voluntary sector, and its work helps tens of thousands of organisations every year achieve their aims. Learn more at www.dsc.org.uk.

Follow DSC on social media

Make sure to stay tuned to twitter @forcescharities too, for the latest commentary and updates. We’re publishing more research each year, so keep checking-in for news on our upcoming reports, analysis, and website developments.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub https://www.vfrhub.com/. 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/

Cobseo Housing Cluster win the FiMT Working Together Award at the Soldier on Awards

Image: Rupert Frere Schmooly

The Cobseo Housing Cluster received the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) Working Together Award at the Soldiering on Awards on Friday 20th April, at a special ceremony at Westminster Bridge Park Plaza.

The Cluster is a combination of 30 veterans’ housing organizations and charities formed to provide veteran specific housing and create an integrated veterans’ housing sector, with clear pathways for ex-Service personnel and their families in housing need to move into permanent homes.

Formed in 2009, the purpose of the clusters is to enable collaborative working across all the sectors to ensure the Armed Forces Community has access to the provisions and services that are needed.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We are delighted to see the Cobseo Housing Cluster win the FiMT Working Together Award. All three finalists for this award have achieved great things for the Armed Forces Community, and we applaud them for their efforts. It’s a shame that there could be only one winner, as each finalist demonstrated the highest level of collaborative working in their own fields.

“The essence of collaboration is the coming together of a variety of organizations working across sectors to achieve a common goal. As most will recognize, there is currently a national housing shortage and the work of the Cluster has led to success in providing a home for many of those within the Armed Forces Community.

“We hope that the example of the Cobseo Housing Cluster will give others in our sector the confidence and ambition to improve their own approach to working with others, and we fully intend that they will receive due recognition.”

James Richardson, Co-Chair of the Cobseo Housing Cluster, said: “We are extremely proud to receive this recognition of the work we have put in over the last 4 years to assist veterans and their families access safe, secure and high-quality housing.  Through close cooperation, information sharing and charitable commitment we have delivered a better environment and eased access to all of the services that members provide.

“The national housing crisis affects veterans directly and by this sterling effort to put them and their needs first the Cluster continues to meet its remit but has much more work to do.  Simply to help those in need is enough but to be recognised for it is very much appreciated.  Thank you FiMT for sponsoring such an important category and we are delighted to share success with so many other worthy winners.”

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Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

James Richardson, Chief Executive, Haig Housing and Ed Tytherleigh, Chief Executive, Stoll Housing are available for interview. To arrange please contact Alice Farrow, Head of Communications at Cobseo on a.farrow@cobseo.org.uk or on Mobile: 07966 886180 or 0207 901 8903

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub https://www.vfrhub.com/. 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/

 

 

 

 

Injured ex-Service personnel should not face benefit sanctions, report finds

Ex-Service personnel with service-related physical or mental health injuries should not have benefit sanctions imposed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), say researchers of a Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) funded report titled “Sanctions, support and Service leavers: welfare conditionality and transitions from military to civilian life” released today, Thursday 19th April.

The report, by the University of Salford and the University of York, is the first major study investigating the experiences of ex-Service personnel and the benefits system. A common experience was the perception that staff carrying out assessments for benefits sometimes had little understanding or, regard for, the mental health issues facing military veterans.

Evidence was generated largely from face-to-face interviews with 68 ex-Service personnel, a number of who were struggling financially, with many living with debts, rent arrears, court fines and some having to use food banks.  These interim findings present nine recommendations, including:

  • That DWP urgently review the assessment process applied to those claiming working-age incapacity benefits to make sure assessors are qualified to assess the mental and physical health issues of people leaving the Armed Forces.
  • Each Jobcentre should have one designated individual who takes a lead role in supporting Armed Forces Service leavers and their families interacting with the social security system.
  • Guidance on the UK social security system setting out an individual’s rights should be included as part of the transitional support for those leaving the Armed Forces.
  • DWP should ensure that all Jobcentre Plus staff are provided with training on the adjustments and easements applicable to Armed Forces Service leavers and their families, and more broadly around the mental and physical health impairments that may impact on some Service leavers’ fitness to undertake paid work and/or ability to engage in compulsory work focused activities.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This is the first study to look qualitatively at the experiences of ex-Service personnel who need to use the benefits system, and it is worth emphasizing that most transition successfully without such recourse. The recommendations included in the report will help provide the DWP with the information that will help increase the awareness of their staff to the needs of the Armed Forces community and hence improve the outcomes for those ex-Service personnel that do require welfare support.”

Dr Lisa Scullion, Associate Director of the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford, who is leading the project, said: “We found people who desperately did not want to claim benefits and only did so as a last resort, but who found the system baffling and had been given little preparation for dealing with it.

“Allowances are made to veterans who claim benefits as part of the Armed Forces Covenant but until now very little has been known about their experiences within the benefits system. This research has suggested that there is a gap between some of the Covenant commitments and what is actually experienced on the ground, and we would urge the policy makers to look carefully at our findings and recommendations.”

You can read the full report here.

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Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

Dr Lisa Scullion is available for interview. To arrange please contact Conrad Astley, University of Salford press office, on 0161 295 6363 or c.l.astley@salford.ac.uk.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub. 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 the study

The two-year study, called Sanctions, support and Service leavers:  welfare conditionality and transitions from military to civilian life, was funded by a £171,995 grant from the Forces in Mind Trust.

Research was conducted with members of military families who are in the benefits system, primarily across the North West, North East and London, to understand how people who have left Service find their way into the social security system and the wider impact of these policies.

The research also includes interviews with policy makers and key stakeholders representing military charities and other third sector organisations.

Around 15,000 men and women leave the British Armed Forces every year. While most are able to easily move into civilian life, there are some who experience problems such as mental health issues, physical disabilities, drug and alcohol misuse and financial hardship.

New FiMT Award: Probation Institute awarded funds to develop e learning programme

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded funds of £41,500 to the Probation Institute for a year-long project to develop an e learning product to enable service providers to identify ex-Service personnel under supervision in the criminal justice system.

After completing the e learning training, practitioners will better understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of ex-Service personnel, and have increased awareness of support available within Armed Forces charities with sector expertise and how these can be of help.

The need for specific training arose from discussions at the launch of the FiMT funded Probation Institute report titled, “Profile provision for Armed Forces veterans under probation supervision”.

It is proposed that the e learning programme would be one hour long and would be updated at the end of the first-year evaluation.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The Armed Forces Covenant was created to ensure that no ex-Service person is disadvantaged by their time in service. This requires commitment by local government agencies, service providers and the private sector to ensure that they understand the needs and vulnerabilities of the Armed Forces community.

“What the Probation Institute have quite rightly pointed to is the need for specific training and improved understanding of the needs of the ex-Service personnel who are under supervision in the criminal justice system.”

Helen Schofield, Acting Chief Executive of the Probation Institute, said: “With the support of FiMT, the Probation Institute has researched and reported on the provision for ex-Service personnel and we have developed a training course for practitioners across the probation organisations. This funding enables us to develop a sustainable and accessible version of the training to complement the face to face course. We look forward to this new stage of the project.”

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Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub. 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 the Probation Institute: The Probation Institute is an independent centre of excellence and a professional home for all those involved in probation work across the public, voluntary and private sectors, and was launched by Lord Neuberger in March 2014. We support effective services, promote evidence-based policy and practice and the professional development of our members and explain the work of probation to the media, parliamentarians and the public.

o   All members are required to sign up to the Code of Ethics as a condition of membership.  http://probation-institute.org/code-ethics/

o   The Institute is currently developing a professional register, which will enable probation practitioners to have their qualifications, knowledge and skills recognised and will act as a framework for continuing professional development.

Useful links

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ProbInstitute

Website: www.probation-institute.org

FiMT’s Specialist Fellows on the Clore Social Leadership 2018 Experienced Leader Programme

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) is delighted to announce the five Specialist FiMT Fellows who have been selected to take part in the newly remodelled Clore Experienced Leader Programme:

  • Anna Wright, Chief Executive, Naval Families Federation;
  • Gareth Murrell, Chief Executive, Veterans at Ease;
  • Kerry-Louise McGeachy, Contract Manager, Victim Support Dorset;
  • Matthew Seward, Assistant Director, The Royal British Legion; and
  • Theresa Mary Pratt, Operations Director, Aggie Weston’s.

Designed to fit around the needs of those with existing commitments, Clore Social’s Experienced Leader Programme is a one-year programme for professionals with 6-10 years’ experience as a social sector leader who wish to engage in sector wide leadership by developing their existing leadership skills.

The programme uses a blended approach to learning, including online training, residentials, action learning, coaching, mentoring and a secondment, with time for reflection and a ‘real world’ challenge project to put into practice the newly gained skills and tools they can then take back to their organizations.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Forces in Mind Trust believes passionately in collaboration and capacity building within the Armed Forces charity sector.”

“We are delighted to announce the five FiMT Specialist Fellows who will participate in this newly launched Experienced Leader Programme for 2018. Clore is offering, for the first time, a flexible learning package that allows senior social sector leaders to fit self-development around their busy day-to-day schedules, using proven learning methods and opportunities where they can share their experiences and learning with one another to further develop their leadership ability, the result of which can only benefit their organisation and the social sector, and achieve positive social change where it is needed.  This programme also complements our ‘Clore 6: Cobseo’ emerging leaders programme, currently underway.”

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Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub. 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/

Chief Executive Ray Lock explores how we can support Commonwealth ex-Service personnel who are transitioning to civilian life.

For many years, the UK’s Armed Forces have recruited from countries now in the Commonwealth.  Mainly, such recruits have joined the British Army, and predominantly into the more junior ranks.  Last year, around 6000 of the Army’s total strength of 82,000 were listed as ‘Foreign and Commonwealth’.  A new report[1] funded by Forces in Mind Trust and carried out by Anglia Ruskin University, has revealed that when these Commonwealth soldiers transition into civilian life, the experience can be overwhelming – as one respondent said: “all aspects of life unravel”.

Of course, transition can be a challenge for anyone, regardless of birthplace or nationality, and whilst the vast majority of Service personnel do succeed in making a successful transition, the Commonwealth Service leaver faces extra obstacles, some of which could be overcome with just a few relatively inexpensive changes.

The biggest hurdle a Commonwealth soldier faces when wanting to settle in the UK, together with his or her family, is the cost of doing so.  A visa for a family of four is around £9000 and whilst occasionally the well-established military charities do assist, a better solution would be for the employer, namely the Ministry of Defence, to encourage – perhaps even impose – a salary sacrifice savings scheme that would ensure every Commonwealth soldier had access to the necessary funds.  Naturally many unaccompanied soldiers send most of their wages home, and some have no intention to remain in the UK after service.  But we should at least try.

Rules on Armed Forces immigration were revised in 2013, and a Service leaver wishing to settle in the UK with a spouse and one child must meet a minimum annual income threshold of £22,400.  Every additional child increases that threshold by £2400.  Unfortunately, a private soldier’s salary is typically only £22,255.  There is a mechanism for appealing to the Home Office, but it can be slow and uncertain.  The UK’s Armed Forces Covenant seeks to treat those who have served fairly, and to ensure that they suffer no disadvantage as a result of that service.  What the Covenant doesn’t try to do is to offer advantage, so we’re not asking for a separate immigration policy for Commonwealth settlers, although one wonders whether there might be a case under the families test.  Rather though we are asking the Home Office to recognize that having served the UK, Commonwealth settlers do deserve expeditious and sympathetic consideration of their cases.

Finally, there are already welfare officers at Army bases whose role includes, amongst many other things, supporting and advising resettling Commonwealth soldiers.  Keeping up with the plethora of issues faced by welfare officers isn’t easy, but as one remarked on this aspect: “I feel out of my depth”.  Indeed, the Army Families Federation doubled the number of dedicated support staff for Commonwealth families in 2013, and is about to increase it again.

The Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo) operates a ‘cluster’ of members involved in supporting Foreign and Commonwealth members of the armed forces community, which is chaired by the Army Families Federation, and it was their concerns that drove this research project.

Better coordination in the third sector, which Cobseo encourages, better communication with Service leavers via existing MOD channels, and better training for established welfare officers – these are a long way from the usual bleat of ‘more funding’ and can arguably be delivered by just a bit of focus at a senior level.

The stream of Commonwealth soldiers entering the British Army might now be a trickle (200 per year is an apparent target), but they still represent an important capability.  Those who choose to settle in the country they have served, often with considerable distinction, deserve better treatment.

The mission of Forces in Mind Trust – www.fim-trust.org – is to enable ex-serving personnel and their families make a successful and sustained transition into civilian life, and the Trust has chosen to do this by generating evidence that will influence policy makers and service providers to support their mission.

Read the full report here [https://goo.gl/qPwzyt]

[1] Meeting the Needs of Commonwealth Personnel and Families: A Map of Service Provision.

FiMT report reveals more work is needed to support and engage the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community

A new Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) funded report assessing the services available for, and provided to, Commonwealth serving and ex-Service personnel and their families, was released today, 22 March 2018, and has identified a number of improvements to better focus services for the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community.

Thirteen recommendations are provided in the report to strengthen the strategy to meet the needs of serving and ex-Service personnel and their families from the Commonwealth within a complex and still politically charged society. These include:

  • The introduction of an online information training programme on immigration rules
  • Assistance for welfare services advising on visa and immigration rules
  • A review of the minimum income threshold
  • A need for greater collaboration across the Armed Forces welfare sector
  • Increase in research into Commonwealth perspectives

The eight-month study was undertaken by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), working directly with the Cobseo Foreign and Commonwealth Cluster Group. It focussed on the existing service provision to better understand: what welfare support is currently provided, the needs identified by supporting organisations and how support could be enhanced.

Researchers collected data through a survey by the Armed Forces charity sector and telephone interviews with experts in the field of service provision.

Three key issues were identified.  Firstly, information gathering and recording with regard the Commonwealth community are limited across the charity sector and prevent forward planning for service provision; secondly, immigration difficulties were highlighted which can lead to difficult transition back into civilian life; and thirdly, the services provided have a relatively low up-take by the cohort.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The purpose of Forces in Mind Trust is to enable all ex-Service personnel to have a successful and sustainable transition back into civilian life. This can be done by providing robust evidence to policy makers and service providers to inform decision making.

“This ground-breaking research commissioned by FiMT on behalf of the Cobseo Cluster group highlights that there are areas where changes are much needed in the services provided to the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community, communications with them, and underpinning Home Office and Ministry of Defence policies.”

Matt Fossey, Director of the Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, said: “This empirically driven report has collated important evidence of the welfare needs of Commonwealth Service Personnel, veterans and their families and proposes attainable recommendations, which will make a positive difference to the lives of members of the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community.”

Louise Simpson, Policy & Research Director, Army Families’ Federation (AFF) said: “At a time when we are seeing a growing number of F&C soldiers and their families asking us for help and support, we’re delighted to see that the recommendations that we’ve been making, such as targeted information to the F&C community, and the need for financial education and support finally have the strong corroboration needed to progress these important issues for our F&C families.”

You can read the report here.

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Note to EditorRay Lock and Matt Fossey are available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub. 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 Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin is an innovative global university, brimming with ambition.  Students from 177 countries gain qualifications with us in four continents.  Students, academics, businesses and partners all benefit from our outstanding facilities; we’ve invested £100 million over the last five years and plan to invest a further £91 million over the next five years.

Anglia Ruskin’s Research Institutes and five faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields.  We deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference, from saving lives to conserving water.  Our academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 12 areas classed as generating world-leading research.

We are ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and in 2016 we featured in a list of the 20 “rising stars” in global Higher Education compiled by strategy consultants Firetail.

New FiMT Award: seAp awarded funds to evaluate their Military Advocacy Service

Forces in Mind Trust has awarded funds of £126,872 to seAp, a charity that provides free advocacy services, to conduct a three-year evaluation of their Military Advocacy Service.

Initially a pilot scheme in Oxfordshire in 2013, the service was founded through seAp’s statutory mental health advocacy work, where they encountered ex-Service personnel who felt unable to access statutory services to meet their specific needs.

Developed through collaboration with local partners including: housing associations; Veterans UK; and Armed Forces charities such as Combat Stress, SSAFA, and TRBL, the service received Treasury funding to expand into the Thames Valley, North Hampshire, Plymouth, Wiltshire and Essex in 2016.

The evaluation will assess the impact of the advocacy provision on ex-Service personnel’s use of services such as: NHS and social care services; housing providers and homelessness agencies; drug and alcohol support agencies; police and criminal justice agencies; benefits system; and labour market.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Forces in Mind Trust was created to enable all ex-Service personnel to have a successful and sustainable transition back into civilian life. The majority face no major problems, but for some, transition present a real challenge. By funding research, such as this seAp project, we can inform policy makers and service providers and so ensure that the decisions they make are based on the very best available evidence.

“The value of advocacy, and the benefits it can bring, are well recognized.  However, the specific needs of the Armed Forces Community and the gaps in statutory provision, suggest that a tailored service would be appropriate. Our award to seAp to pilot this approach will generate the necessary evidence and help build sector capacity, and it’s a good example of the practical and impactful work the Trust is increasingly undertaking.”

Marie Casey, Chief Executive of seAp Advocacy, said “We have seen the transformative effect advocacy has on the lives of ex-Service personnel who face physical and mental health challenges. We look forward to providing academic proof of the positive effect of specialist tailored support to veterans and their families”

-ENDS-

Note to Editor:  Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

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 hosted on the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families Research Hub. 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    www.seap.org.uk

Reports: www.fim-trust.org/reports/

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

Twitter: @FiMTrust  @seap

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

seAp Charity

seAp is an independent charity that specialises in the provision of advocacy and related services.   seAp’s Advocates support people, especially those who are most vulnerable in society, to have their voice heard, access their rights and have more control over their lives.

Advocacy support is provided through well-trained and highly-motivated advocates who enable their clients to express themselves, ensuring that everyone who uses health and social care services can have their voice heard on issues that are important to them.

Staff are committed to the central advocacy principles of independence, confidentiality and empowerment.

seAp stands for the following values

Supporting people to express their views and wishes, especially those who are vulnerable, isolated or marginalised.

Empowering people to have their voice heard so that they can access their rights and take a central role in decisions that are made about their lives.

Advocates on behalf of our clients to ensure that their views influence the planning, delivery and development of services that affect their lives.

Promoting the value of advocacy by sharing our knowledge, experience and values with others and championing the involvement of service-users in the design and delivery of health and social care services.

SeAp Facebook: facebook.com/seap