latest news

Service families highlight the need for more structured support when returning to civilian life

Research undertaken by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), released today, to assess how engagement with, and by, families works during the process of transition back into civilian life and where it could be improved, highlights the need for more accessible and inclusive support.

BIT conducted 53 interviews with families, and serving and ex-Service personnel to understand what the barriers and facilitators are for families when engaging with transition support, and how best to utilise behaviour and social sciences to overcome these barriers and encourage behavioural change.

The content from the interviews contributed to the following recommendations included in the report,

  • To reduce information overload: Break transition into smaller, more manageable steps to achieve long-term goals. Encourage follow through, set deadlines and send useful tips and reminders.
  • To involve the family in transition: Ensure that information and support are accessible to families and use inclusive language.
  • To link with social networks: Tap into existing social networks or generate new ones to encourage knowledge sharing and support.
  • To continue support after transition: Recognise that transition does not end at the point of leaving. Provide access and signpost to support. Follow up with regular check-ins.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The recommendations the Behavioural Insights Team has presented in their report are as a result of their engagement with families, and serving and ex-Service personnel.

“We now look to find effective ways of embedding the necessary behavioural changes in individuals and organizations. This research has the potential of achieving great impact on the support offered to families in the transition process and their engagement with it. We hope the MOD, and organizations providing transition support, incorporate these recommendations into their transition procedures.”

The year-long project was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust and is the first in a two-phase project, with findings influencing a pilot project which would be the second phase.

Victoria Fussey, Senior Advisor, Behavioural Insights Team, said: “The move back to civilian life can be hard for people leaving the Armed Forces, as well as for their families. Through this project, we’ve gained a better understanding of how people experience transition and suggested a number of ways that designing services based on this understanding and the science of human behaviour and decision making can be used to improve the transition process.”

Read the full report here.


Investigating increases in PTSD among ex-serving personnel who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded funds of £83,162 to King’s College London (King’s) to investigate the increase in PTSD among ex-Service personnel who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

An ongoing MOD funded study by King’s indicates that, of those deployed, the lowest reported levels of PTSD is found in those still serving in the Armed Forces. The highest level is found in regular personnel who deployed in a combat role to Iraq and Afghanistan and subsequently left service.

Researchers on the 15-month study will provide a more in-depth understanding into why this ex-serving sub-group is at an increased risk, and how this might be addressed.

The project will use quantitative data to compare the course of PTSD symptoms over the past 10-14 years, and will look into the factors that influence these trajectories.

The qualitative component will enrich the statistical analysis by asking previously deployed ex-serving regular personnel about traumas encountered throughout their lives, factors placing them at risk and supporting resilience, whether they recognise having mental health problems and their experiences of leaving the military and help-seeking.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “It is clear from previous research that there is a difference in prevalence of PTSD among the ex-serving and serving personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In line with FiMT’s third age, we seek to inform better understanding in areas where there is an evidence gap.”

“This study by King’s will enable us to influence policymakers and service providers to ensure that future combat personnel are at less risk of developing PTSD.”

Dr Sharon Stevelink, Lead Researcher, King’s College London, said: “We are excited to have been awarded this grant. Our study aims to explore the higher levels of PTSD in ex-serving personnel to ensure we understand why this group is at an increased risk, and how this could be addressed.”


Small-scale randomised control trial of PTSD treatment given go-ahead

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded funds of £318,114 to King’s College London (King’s), to undertake a small-scale randomised control trial of a treatment for ex-Service personnel with PTSD.

Researchers on the 28-month study will recruit and support 60 ex-Service personnel in Northern Ireland in a comparative evaluation study of Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM), against an existing Gold Standard Treatment, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (TF-CBT).

RTM is a non-trauma focused therapy developed in the US based on Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which seeks to understand verbal and non-verbal language patterns and intentionally changes them to enable someone to think and/or feel differently about something that had previously distressed them.

Evidence from US veteran studies report low dropout rates, with most participants PTSD symptom free at 6-week follow-up; the treatment also appears to be quick to administer and to demonstrate results and is well tolerated.

NLP is widespread in UK veteran charities; however, the lack of regulation has led to concerns by various bodies (including Devolved Governments, NHS veteran services, key charities) about the potential of the therapy to cause harm, to deter future help-seeking, or to be complex and costly to administer at scale.

The overall aim of this pilot project is to establish whether it is feasible to undertake at a later date a much larger UK-wide study to determine whether RTM provides a quick, well tolerated and effective treatment, and is no less effective in terms of the rehabilitative outcomes when compared to the existing Gold Standard Treatment, TF-CBT. This is the first important stage in a scientifically rigorous approach to evaluating and understanding whether RTM holds the potential for healing that it promises.   

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “At FiMT we have adopted a programmatic approach to the work that we are funding to achieve more impact and influence with the recommendations produced from research reports.

“This untested treatment being trialled by King’s sits within our health and wellbeing programme and has the opportunity to be ground-breaking and life changing to ex-Service personnel with PTSD. The study could also have profound implications for trauma-focussed therapy in wider society.”

Jackie Sturt, Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing, said: “Mental health interventions underpinned by NLP are being delivered across the UK, to many populations. This pilot trial begins an essential programme of work to establish whether NLP holds promise when held up to the scientific microscope of a well-designed randomised controlled trial. We are very excited to be undertaking this much needed work”.


FiMT Working Together Award Winners 2019 – Unforgotten Forces

Forces in Mind Trust funds campaign to end veterans’ homelessness

Ex-Service personnel make up 3 per cent of those accessing homelessness services in England

The Cobseo Housing Cluster, through co-chair Stoll, has been awarded funds of £197,450 from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) to develop and deliver a campaign to help end veterans’ homelessness.

Campaign leaders of the year-long project will be increasing awareness within local authorities, as well as housing and advice agencies, of ex-Service personnel requesting housing support; and developing a more coordinated and collaborative approach throughout the housing and charitable sectors.

Local Authority Housing Departments, homelessness charities and advice agencies will be encouraged to ask every individual who presents as homeless whether they have served in the Armed Forces and, once identified, they should be signposted to the specific support services available.

Evidence from previous FiMT research shows that as many as three per cent of those accessing homelessness services in England have served in the Armed Forces, which translates to over 1,000 ex-Service personnel classed as homeless and up to 4,000 requiring urgent support to find accommodation every year.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “FiMT has funded this campaign as a response to our previous research into homeless provision and ex-Service personnel, released in March 2018. The recommendations in that report called for more government funding to support homeless ex-Service personnel, and for Local Authorities to routinely check if someone seeking housing assistance has served in the Armed Forces.

“The recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, of extra funding to support vulnerable ex-Service personnel, reflects the acknowledgement from the government that more needs to be done to help support those individuals who have served and who now need some extra help in their civilian life.”

Ed Tytherleigh, Chief Executive, Stoll Housing and Co-Chair of Cobseo Housing Cluster, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this grant to continue our vital work to try and bring homelessness amongst the Veteran community down as close to zero as possible. A clear housing pathway is vital for vulnerable Veterans leaving the Armed Forces.

“This award will enable us to work closely with Local Authorities and other civilian agencies to ensure Veterans get the support they need. We need Local Authorities to ask those seeking housing support whether they have served in the Armed Forces and, if they have, to have a clear plan to signpost them effectively.”


Pilot study will improve employment prospects for ex-Service personnel with physical and mental health conditions

Ex-Service personnel who are being assisted with physical and mental health issues will also be offered intensive employment support in a pioneering pilot by The Poppy Factory, funded by The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

Delivered in partnership with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the three-year study in The Wirral will bring the employability charity’s long-established expertise supporting ex-Service personnel with health conditions into an NHS healthcare setting for the first time.

A highly experienced employability consultant from The Poppy Factory will be embedded in the NHS multidisciplinary team to deliver comprehensive employment support to ex-Forces men and women who are wounded, sick or injured.

The package, based on the principles of Individual Placement Support (IPS), takes each individual’s physical health and mental health needs into account, with the aim of securing meaningful long-term employment.

It is intended that the study, which will be evaluated by the University of Nottingham, will reveal any gaps in knowledge and research, help improve existing services and forge closer links between health providers and the Armed Forces charity sector.

The £289,843 pilot will take place at the Stein Centre in St Catherine’s Hospital in Birkenhead, Wirral, an area with one of the highest concentrations of ex-Service personnel in the country. It will see The Poppy Factory work closely with health and social care partners in the local area.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Knowledge and evidence should form the basis of any policy. FiMT’s latest published research, by the Directory of Social Change, highlighted how the Armed Forces Charity sector is shrinking, underlining the need to encourage collaboration with statutory service providers.

“This unique study by The Poppy Factory has the opportunity to change how employment and health services are delivered to this small but vulnerable group of ex-Service personnel.”

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “We are very grateful to The Forces in Mind Trust for supporting and funding this important pilot project, which brings the expertise we have developed in communities around the UK into a clinical healthcare setting for the first time.

“The study will enable us to help many more veterans with physical and mental health conditions fulfil their potential outside the Forces by moving back into meaningful and sustained employment.”

Dr Anushta Sivananthan, Consultant Psychiatrist and CWP Medical Director, said: “We’re delighted to be working with The Poppy Factory to meaningfully meet the needs of ex-Service men and women in a person-centred way. Meaningful employment can be vital to people’s social inclusion and this pioneering pilot will help shape the way our veterans can fulfil their potential.”


‘Unforgotten Forces’ win 2019 Working Together Award

At an emotional awards ceremony on Friday, at London’s Westminster Bridge Park Plaza, individuals and organisations were recognized for their continued commitment to the Armed Forces Community.

Forces in Mind Trust sponsors the Working Together Award at the annual event, in acknowledgement of the excellent work organisations achieve through collaboration.

This year’s winner, “Unforgotten Forces” is a consortium of 16 organisations, who have come together to deliver a range of new services and enhancements in areas including advice, access to healthcare, social isolation and respite.

The Soldier On Awards acknowledge and celebrate the dedication to the Armed Forces Community across a variety of individuals and sectors, including businesses and charities as well as many ex-Service personnel and their families.

Carol Vorderman, a passionate supporter of the Armed Forces, and ex-Serviceman JJ Chalmers, hosted the evening, with mezzo-soprano Carly Paoli performing classics such as Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We are delighted to see Unforgotten Forces win this year’s FiMT Working Together Award. We applaud the efforts of all three finalists for this award, they have achieved great things for the Armed Forces Community.

“It’s a shame there can only be one winner, but all finalists reflect the commitment to achieving through collaborative working. We continue to champion working together and hope others will be inspired to achieve together.”

Mark Bibbey, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, said: “In just over a year there have been more than 6,000 instances of support for older veterans living in Scotland provided through the Unforgotten Forces consortium. Each of the 16 organisations involved offer enhanced services for older veterans, but it is perhaps the seamless referral pathways that now exist between the Unforgotten Forces members that provides the greatest benefit. An older veteran reaching out to one organisation means they are, in effect, reaching out to us all.

“Poppyscotland is very proud to lead this ground-breaking collaboration. Collecting the FiMT Working Together Award at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards represents a ringing endorsement of the approach we have taken and inspires us all to continue building on this remarkable early success.”


Request for expressions of interest

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has issued a request for expressions of interest (REOI) for the development of its new website.

As a key enabler of our mission, we are procuring a modern, multi-device compatible website with outstanding access to the existing body of resources, including published reports, other news and information, and the grant application process. Above all, we want a high quality website that demonstrates the impact of FiMT’s work and showcases our independence and credibility.

The award is expected to be up to £50,000 (including VAT where chargeable), but is subject to negotiation.

For more details of the application process see the full REOI here.

Recruitment of a Trustee with experience of Trusts or Foundations delivering strategic programmes

If you want to make a difference to the civilian lives of former serving members of the Armed Forces Community, this is a great opportunity to bring your skills, knowledge and expertise to help us deliver our mission. We are on the cusp of something remarkable, and we want now to recruit a Trustee to our Board who can bring vision and experience of strategic and systematic change programmes within the model of Trust and Foundation funding.

Forces in Mind Trust was founded by a £35 million endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund. The Trust works within the military charities sector, and much more widely, to support the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces Community. After 7 years’ operation, the Trust is looking to make a far greater impact with its grant funding, ensuring we deliver substantial benefit to the Armed Forces Community.

This is an exciting and transformational time for the Trust, and we hope you will consider bringing your talents to join us on our journey.

The person
We are recruiting a Trustee with experience in Trusts and Foundations delivering strategic programmes. Experience in one or a combination of the following areas would be welcomed:

• Programmes achieving systematic change
• Commissioning
• Impact and evaluation

All Trustees are expected to have empathy with the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces Community, but direct military experience is not required.

The Trust operates across the United Kingdom, and applications from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are particularly welcome. The Trust is committed to the achievement of greater diversity in its board, and welcomes applications regardless of sex, gender, race, age, sexuality, belief or disability.

Further information
As a Trustee you will:
• Receive induction training and travel expenses
• Have significant opportunities to make strategic decisions
• Influence the shape of innovative projects

The expected time commitment is four Board meetings per year (usually held in London, on Tuesdays between 10 am and 1 pm), an annual full day’s strategy review, and quarterly 3-hour sub-Committee meetings. These all take place during normal working hours.

For the full job spec click here.

How to apply
Expressions of interest comprising a cover letter and CV totalling not more than 4 sides should be sent to by Friday 10 May 2019. All applications will be acknowledged, and those with whom the Trust wishes to take forward discussions will be personally informed before the end of May.

The closing date for applications is Friday 10 May 2019.