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New Data Dispels ‘Negative stereotypes’ About Veterans

A MAJOR new study released today by the Veterans Work Consortium, reveals that military service is likely to improve your chances of finding employment.

The study found that, contrary to what many believe, veteran employment rates at 81% are far higher than the national average of 75.5%.

The report, titled ‘Veterans Work: Moving On’, surveyed 1,786 UK veterans who had transitioned out of the military in the past 10 years.

Veterans Work, made-up of leading professional services firm Deloitte, the Armed Forces charity the Officers’ Association and The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), is a consortium of organisations whose collective aim is to improve our understanding of veteran employment.

The Consortium’s research found that 62% of veterans identifying as having a mental health disability are in employment. Whereas employment rates for those identifying as having a mental health disability across the working age population of the UK, are much lower at just 25%.

These statistics reveal a startling disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to the mental state of veterans and their chances of employment as they re-enter the workplace, as uncovered by a separate poll of 2849 civilians, conducted in June of this year. The YouGov poll commissioned by FiMT, found that an alarming 64% of civilians think that veterans are more likely to suffer from more mental, physical and emotional issues than those who have never served.

The YouGov report also found that 39% of employers believe veterans are more likely to be institutionalised. Additionally, 30% thought that serving in the Armed Forces ‘damages people’.

Chris Recchia, Partner at Deloitte and Chair of the Veterans Work Consortium said: “Persistent negative stereotypes do unfortunately affect wider societal perception of the veteran community. While it is absolutely true that some veterans have suffered and continue to suffer, this does not reflect the experiences of the majority.

He continued: “In short, this data dispels those negative stereotypes. Our study found veterans are highly employable due to the hard work, determination, flexibility in where they work and critically, a willingness to try a whole new career.”

Lee Holloway, Chief Executive of the Officers’ Association said: “There is a clear gulf between how the public perceive veterans and the reality. Veterans are more likely to be employed for instance, regardless of disability or mental health.

He continued: “It is possible that this disconnect is in part being driven, unintentionally, by some of the messaging. High profile media campaigns drawing attention to real  issues facing sections of the Armed Forces community, whilst well-meaning, can at times serve to perpetuate stereotypes that do not reflect the majority.

Holloway continued: “The outlook for Service leavers is very promising.  These research findings will help employers become better placed to recruit, retain and benefit from employing veterans.”

However, while employment rates for veterans are higher than the national average, Veterans Work: Moving On found that more than a quarter (26%) of veterans living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said they had found the process of finding the employment ‘very difficult’.

It was a different story for veterans who had chosen to reside in the Capital however, with less than 1 in 10 (9%) in London describing the experience as ‘very difficult’.

Half (50%) of those veterans who live in London, describe their experience of finding the right job as ‘easy’. Despite the relative ease of finding jobs in the capital, just 8% of veterans are now living in London.

Troublingly, 27% of female respondents described the process of finding employment as ‘very difficult’; for men, the figure was just 17%.

And nearly a third (29%) of female veterans said their salary expectations were not met, while only 24% of male veterans said the same.

The most popular place for veterans to live is in the South West, with nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents living there. This reflects the fact that the region is home to some of the most populated military bases.

Speaking as the report was unveiled, Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE and Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The transition out of military service into civilian life is most successful when all the elements, such as housing and employment, are tackled early, and holistically.  It’s important that these challenges are, though, represented in a balanced and proportionate way. Understanding the needs of the minority who do struggle, should be set alongside the successful outcomes for the majority.  There is plenty of evidence to show that the public and employers hold inaccurate perceptions of the ex-Service community.  The efforts of the Veterans Work consortium should help redress the balance.”

You can read the report here.

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The UK Armed Forces charity sector: a summary of provision

Today sees the publication of ‘The UK Armed Forces charity sector: a summary of provision’ which has been produced to support the recently published Strategy For our Veterans and Consultation Paper. 

The report is an evidence-based analysis of the profile of the Armed Forces charity sector, and the services and support offered by the sector to the Armed Forces community.  It draws upon the work of the Directory of Social Change’s ‘UK Armed Forces Charities’ project, funded by FiMT.  An important update ‘Sector trends’ will be published in January 2019.

 The dissemination of this Summary is intended to help inform those from other organisations and public bodies who offer services for Veterans and their families, but who are unfamiliar with the work of the Armed Forces charity sector. 

The Summary was written by Meri Mayhew, former Head of Policy at FiMT and now working on secondment from FiMT in the Ministry of Defence as the Charity Adviser to the Veterans Strategy. 

Read the summary here.

FiMT Chief Executive Ray Lock CBE announced as Stoll’s new Chair

Stoll, the leading provider of supported housing for Veterans, has appointed Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE as the organisation’s next Chair.

Ray takes up the position of Chair at Stoll’s AGM on 29 November 2018, succeeding the current Chair, Air Commodore Andy Fryer, when he completes his term of office.

A retired Royal Air Force pilot and commander, Ray has a Service history spanning 35 years. As well as flying fighter jets in the first Gulf War, he coordinated the establishment of the Air Field in Basra, Iraq for operational use in the second Gulf War. Ray was appointed head of the RAF station at Lyneham and was then in charge of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, the training establishment for senior officers across the tri-Services.

Ray is Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, a Trust established through a £35m Big Lottery Fund endowment with the aim of providing an evidence base to influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful and sustainable civilian lives.

Talking about his new role, Ray said: “I have collaborated with Stoll on a number of projects around Veterans’ housing in the last few years with some impressive outcomes, so I am delighted to now be able to take on the role of Chair. I am passionate about ensuring Veterans, particularly those who may be vulnerable, have a safe place to call home. I look forward to working with the senior leaders, the Trustees and Stoll’s dedicated team of staff to ensure that our beneficiaries continue to receive the help and support they need.”

Ed Tytherleigh, Chief Executive at Stoll, said: “Ray brings a wealth of skills and expertise that will be of great value to Stoll and the strategic leadership of the organisation. We are extremely fortunate to have been able to appoint someone with such outstanding experience – both as a leader within the military and with such in-depth knowledge of the Veterans’ charity sector, especially around the important issue of transition from the Armed Forces.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Ray to Stoll. At the same time, I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our current Chairman, Andy Fryer, for his immense contribution to Stoll. Andy’s strong leadership and commitment has ensured that the needs of Veterans have always come first. During his five years’ with us, Stoll has significantly increased the affordable housing available to the Veterans’ community with two new purpose-built developments which now provide a place to call home for 70 Veterans and their families.”

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Exploration of treatment pathways for veterans accessing secondary mental health care services

The Forces in Mind Trust has awarded funds of £78,216 to King’s College London for a seven-month follow on study into the types of mental health problems that UK ex-Service personnel present with to secondary mental health services and their pathways through treatment.

The findings will be contrasted with non-veterans accessing the same services. The researchers will also develop a tool that will enable the automatic identification of veterans’ mental health services records, as at the moment no indicator is present related to past military service. This means that the sample size can be increased substantially, and additional variables related to treatment pathways can be explored.

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

“The extension of this project, undertaken by King’s College London, will enable policy makers and service providers to make informed decisions and deliver the help that a small cohort of ex-Service personnel require on their transition pathway.”

Dr Sharon Stevelink, King’s College London, said:

“We are excited to undertake the next stage of this unique project. We have shown that it is feasible to manually identify whether patients who accessed secondary mental health care services have served in the military, and this next stage will enable us to automate this process, meaning that it will be quicker and easier to identify veterans for research purposes”.

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Cobseo Emerging Leader Programme – A tool-box of delights.

Robert Thorburn, Clore Fellow

From what I believe these days is termed a ‘portfolio career’, my work has taken me across a broad range of organisations and geographies that have seen me lead, and be led, in a range of situations. Throughout this time, one of the enduring idioms I’ve found myself considering more than any other, is “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. Since hearing that, it has resurged to the forefront of my mind numerous times as I’ve observed many hammer wielders smash their way through situations that certainly weren’t nails. The shock that things hadn’t worked out as expected was fascinating to behold and I, of course, was also guilty of leaning on my favoured way of operating. I can list more than one occasion where I’ve reached the end of a project and fiercely tried to reconcile with myself the reason something I’d led hadn’t turned out as expected.

When I learnt about the Cobseo Emerging Leader Programme I saw a genuine opportunity for me to learn more about how I liked to work and, crucially, how others liked to work. Ultimately, I craved access to that critical insight and experience from renowned experts who’d honed the craft of leadership and so could help me become a better leader.

I hadn’t appreciated at the time of submitting my application, just how much more I would get from this programme/experience/journey. It certainly met these expectations but also introduced me to a network of inspiring and experienced peers, a space to experiment with new techniques and the time, not just to hear the information presented, but to listen properly and consider it thoroughly.

From online learning, several residential packages, coaching sessions, group tasks and challenges, a full spectrum of quality opportunities were presented to me and my fellow students. These were all led and delivered by a range of expert speakers and facilitators with no question left unanswered, or any discussion that didn’t reveal something of use. There’s so much to write it’s overwhelming just to think of it all, so I will have to revert to the clichéd You’ll have to see for yourself. It is a busy and packed programme and you have to work hard; but what you get at the other end is completely worth it.

Having finished the course I will claim several things: I was somewhat surprised that I wasn’t told to put away my old hammer, in fact I am now able to swing it harder and faster for use in those situations where I really am faced with a nail. The focus of this programme isn’t just on learning new methods but recognising and building on your existing skills and style. However, I also now know that this isn’t my only option, my only capability or my only approach. I now have a box of tools I can confidently reach for when I’m faced with different, complex or new leadership tasks or challenges involving people who operate differently to me.

Throughout the course, I really felt struck by the difficulties of leadership. The cacophony of voices online and in print, the distractions, the lack of role models, the mistrust and a seeming deficit of what can be considered ‘good leadership’. When was the last time you read a piece of independent writing that positively represented a leader? Or heard someone talk about a leader they admired? And for any positive pieces, how many negatives have there been?

If you’ve read this much of the blog I hope you’re considering this course, and if you’re asking yourself whether it’s right for you, then believe me, it is. We’ll all lead at some point in our lives whether professionally, socially, domestically or otherwise, and the variety and intensity of challenges of leading when operating in the climate mentioned above makes a programme such as this not only useful, but necessary. An holistic leadership journey travelled with the support of experts and peers will give you and your organisation the best possible preparation you can undergo in order to confidently lead and succeed in your life.

This course is for you. It is challenging, and will require a frank conversation with your employer. But I’m confident you can ask anyone from the course and they’ll say that it’s 100% worth doing. I certainly would.

To apply for the 2019 programme see >> https://www.cloresocialleadership.org.uk/programmes/cobseo-emerging-leader

Rob Thorburn is the Grants Officer at Forces in Mind Trust, a member of the Army Reserves, and the Trust’s leading fly fisherman.

New research highlights public perceptions of ex-Service personnel as Government launches Veterans Strategy

The general public holds veterans in high regard, and yet is concerned about the institutionalising nature of service and the difficulties of transition to civilian life, according to new research published today by Forces in Mind Trust and the Ministry of Defence. 

The research, carried out by YouGov and launched to coincide with the new Veterans Strategy, finds wide recognition of the benefits and skills related to serving, yet also a strong public belief that government should do more to support men and women after they leave the Armed Forces.

Those questioned as part of the study commonly associated terms such as ‘brave’, ‘disciplined’, ‘loyal’ and ‘strong’ with those who have served, and the majority thought ex-Service men and women can make a valuable contribution to society. But some believe service comes at a cost, linking it to mental ill health, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This research highlights the public’s expectation that government should do as much as it can to support the men and women who have served in our Forces, and the high regard they hold them in for doing so. The Veterans Strategy, launched today, is a powerful demonstration of the commitment to do just that, and we particularly welcome the inclusion of new census questions from 2021 and a focus on generating reliable data to further our understanding of ex-Service personnel – good policy, after all, starts with good evidence.

“The public view of military service is often broadly held to be one of difficulty and damage. This new research suggests a much more balanced and realistic view among the general population. There is a recognition of the benefits, the transferable skills and the positive character traits the Armed Forces offers, yet this sits alongside a similarly strong recognition that some of those who have served may need help, and that government is responsible for providing that help.

“It falls now to all who work to support members of the Armed Forces community, whether government, business or charity, to ensure that the value of the Service leaver is recognised and utilised, and that where help is needed, it is swiftly and adequately provided. The Veterans Strategy is a significant step in the right direction on this, and we look forward to working with the MOD and governments across the United Kingdom to translate this vision into a better reality.”

You can see the YouGov public perceptions report here.

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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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