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Research study praises project to support ex-Service personnel and their families

More than 80 people gathered at Finchale today (Tuesday 5th July) to hear the results of a two-year project supporting wounded, injured and sick ex-Service personnel and their families.

In May 2014, the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) awarded a £325,000 grant to Finchale for its Joint Transition Support Service (JTSS) project, to support the successful transition into civilian life of wounded, injured or sick Armed Forces personnel experiencing related mental health and wellbeing issues, and their families.

Launched in August 2014, the JTSS project worked with 84 service leavers and their families who were returning to the North East region following discharge on medical grounds over a two year period. The service leavers were referred to Finchale by the Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU) and Phoenix House Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC) at Catterick Garrison, as well as another 12 military and non-military organisations.

It was Finchale’s aim through this project to fully support the families of those going through transition as well as the Service leavers themselves. An integral part of the project was the allocation of a personal case worker, providing an individual, end-to-end case-managed programme from the point of referral through to fulfilling personal goals. We know that transition into civilian life can be very challenging for some, particularly for those suffering with mental health and wellbeing issues. It is hoped the model used by this project can be replicated in other parts of the UK for Service leavers from other PRUs, and provide an evidence base for mental health requirements and support for families going forward.

At the launch today, the project partners were joined by representatives from local authorities, the NHS, major military charities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and MPs at Finchale’s premises in Pity Me, Durham, to hear the results of the two year study, which was undertaken by the North of England Mental Health Development Unit (NEMDHU).

Each year around 17,000 UK Armed Forces personnel begin the transition back to civilian life – and while most transitions are successful, the cost of poor transition to the UK economy is estimated to be around £100million in direct costs alone. This is due to the financial burden created by issues such as alcohol misuse, mental ill health and other health and wellbeing issues, unemployment, family breakdown, homelessness and criminal offending.

The JTSS evaluation study looked at the socio-demographic of Service personnel, together with ex-Service personnel and their families’ experience of the interventions offered by the project, as well as the health, wellbeing and wider outcomes for those who took part. Methodology included a combination of scoping review, data capture, interviews and questionnaire.

The evaluation study report concludes: “This Service evaluation has yielded quantitative and qualitative evidence of the value of JTSS programme for supporting a positive transition for ex-Service personnel with mental health problems.

“Powerful narratives around personal transition journeys of clients provided particularly strong evidence that engagement with JTSS impacted positively on their psychosocial wellbeing; family functioning; self-esteem, motivation and confidence for seeking employment and training.”

The report makes a number of recommendations including additional resources to provide additional capacity. It states: “Building on the reputation of the JTTS programme and the reputation of Finchale more broadly, consideration of the recommendations suggested would improve future service provision to veterans in need of timely and effective support to make a successful transition to civilian life.”

Andy Wildish, Veterans Services Team Leader at Finchale, presented the findings of the study to delegates at the event today. He said: “We are absolutely committed to helping our ex-Service Personnel. This has been a significant and exciting project for us, and we are grateful to the Forces in Mind Trust for enabling us to support Service leavers and their families.

“It can be a significant challenge for those leaving the Armed Forces to adapt to the pressures and demands of everyday life, but it can also be a demanding and difficult process for their families, especially when the individuals involved are suffering from multiple and complex problems.

“It’s with great pride that we’ve been able to help so many Service leavers and families. We’re delighted that the evaluation study has found that the programme has been a great success – it really has made a difference to people’s lives.

“However, we’re also concerned that more resources are needed to be able to help even more ex-Service personnel and their families, as the challenges of transition remain as necessary as ever.”

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock, FiMT Chief Executive, said: “When you leave the Armed Forces, it can be a significant challenge to adapt to the pressures and demands of everyday civilian life, especially for those who may be suffering with the added burden of mental health problems or a long-term injury. The findings of this report provide us with an invaluable evidence-base for how wounded, injured and sick ex-Service personnel and their families can be best supported going forward.  I now challenge service providers across the UK, and those who set the policies, to act upon these recommendations and provide the support this particularly vulnerable cohort deserve.”

To find out more about Finchale, the JTSS programme and its work with veterans, please visit www.finchale.org. To access the report, please visit www.finchale.org or via Twitter @Finchale_Org

-ENDS-

Notes to editor

The report

A PDF is available. Please see contact details below.

About Finchale

Finchale, based in Pity Me in County Durham, was founded in 1943 as a rehabilitation and resettlement centre for service personnel returning from active service, and it has retained strong links with the Armed Forces ever since.

The independent registered charity has supported disabled people and those with health inequalities for 73 years by offering specialist support for people with multiple and complex barriers to employment. It works with individuals and families from the Scottish Borders in the north to the East Riding of Yorkshire in the south, and across from Teesside to Cumbria. Finchale works with a wide range of employers and partners of all sizes from across the public, private and third sectors.

From April 2014 to March 2015, Finchale helped 270 people with its services. As a result 55% found full time employment, 85% helped remained in work for at least 13 weeks, and 90% completed their programme at Finchale.

About Forces in Mind Trust:

  • 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 the 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.

About NEMHDU

The North of England Mental Health Development Unit is a social enterprise providing strategic leadership in mental health; upholding the values of service user and carer involvement; and reinvesting into the mental health community in the North of England. Website: www.nemhdu.org.uk.

For further information please contact:

Forces in Mind Trust

Alex Goldup
The PR Office

Tel 020 7284 6941

Mob: 07791 765 915

Email: agoldup@theproffice.com