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UK MILITARY FAMILIES STRUGGLE TO ACCESS SPECIALIST DOMESTIC ABUSE SUPPORT

Report finds more communication is needed between Domestic Violence and Abuse support sector and the Armed Forces

A report released today by the University of Bristol finds less than 10% of Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) services identify themselves as providing specialist support to military families. The report titled “Domestic Violence and Abuse in Military Families: Improving Signposting to Specialist Support” was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and finds a lack of communication between the civilian and military sectors is hampering efforts to support victims and perpetrators of DVA within military families.

The report recommends civilian DVA services and military welfare services continue efforts to work more closely together to increase awareness and understanding of the support available, and to recognise the complexities victims from UK military families face when seeking help. It finds many DVA services are unclear about the specific issues impacting military families experiencing DVA and why specialist support is needed.

Research findings show Armed Forces families see military based support as problematic, lacking in confidentiality and some still view seeking help as a sign of weakness.  The perceived negative impact on their partner’s career and losing entitlement to Service Family Accommodation were also reported as barriers to help-seeking.

The University of Bristol’s report highlights the need for national level communication to create a joined-up support network which strengthens and better coordinates the services available and provides training for practitioners on the unique challenges faced by military families.

To help facilitate collaboration, a National Conference will be held in Birmingham in March 2020 which will bring together stakeholders from across the military and civilian sectors. Conference partners include Forces in Mind Trust, The Royal British Legion, the MOD, University of Bristol, Birmingham City University, Women’s Aid England and Birmingham City Council.

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

“As a direct result of this FiMT funded research, 34 DVA services were identified as providing specialist services for UK Armed Forces families and are now included within the government funded support database, Routes to Support. This will ensure that victims of DVA are signposted to specific services that offer the support they need.

It’s clear from the findings that more work needs to be done to ensure victims of domestic violence and abuse in the Armed Forces community are encouraged to seek the help they need. It is incumbent on the Armed Forces welfare service to help allay the fears that victims have in using their services, and create a culture of help-seeking without stigma or fear of reprisal.”

Dr Emma Williamson, the project lead at University of Bristol, said:

“This is an important project because it leaves a legacy through Routes to Support to update information about which specialist DVA services can best support military families experiencing DVA.  It also reiterates previous research, and the recent MoD DV Working Group Strategy (2018), that better communication across sectors can make a real difference in improving practice for families.  The conference in March 2020 is a fantastic opportunity for us to make that a reality by bringing the two sectors together to encourage local and national collaboration.”

An MOD spokesperson said:

“Domestic violence is inexcusable and we expect the highest standards of behaviour from our personnel, whether they are on or off duty. Last year we launched a strategy to help prevent domestic abuse in all its forms, including taking action in many of the areas identified in this report. We also work closely with agencies such as local authorities and the police to ensure those affected have access to the support they need.

The strategy aims to reduce the prevalence and impact of domestic abuse and increase the safety and wellbeing of all those affected. It is focused on increasing awareness of through training, establishing a more robust evidence base, and a review of associated policies.”

Read the full report here

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NOTES TO EDITORS: Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact James Gillies at james@amazonpr.co.uk / 020 7700 6952 or Ana Carvallo-Phillips, Ana@amazonpr.co.uk / 020 7700 6952.

About the research:
The research consisted of a limited literature review and primary data collection. The literature review was guided by identifying what constitutes a specialist DVA provision for military families, identifying and consolidating what differentiates the military context, and defining what is meant by DVA services and interventions for military families. A multi-method approach was used to collect primary data. This included: one focus group with victim/survivors; four face-to-face interviews and eight telephone interviews with practitioners; an online survey for service providers; observation of DVA meetings, five site visits across three case study sites; and email correspondence to reach all the relevant stakeholders.

About the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol:
The aim of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research is to conduct high quality research to inform policy, practice and action on gender-based violence. Its history of researching violence against women and gender-based violence, feeds into policy and practice nationally, internationally and locally.

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
Report: www.fim-trust.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Bristol-Report.pdf
FiMT website: www.fim-trust.org
Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/
Twitter: @FiMTrust

Only two percent of armed forces charities support veterans in the criminal justice system

New report calls for better identification of offenders to help charities direct their services to veterans in need, and their families.

New research published today (5 September 2019) by the Directory of Social Change, shows that just two percent of UK Armed Forces charities deliver support for veterans who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System.

The report titled Focus On: Armed Forces Charities in the Criminal Justice System, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) shows that just 31 of the UK’s 1,888 Armed Forces charities provide criminal justice related support to 3,200 veterans each year. This is significantly fewer than the number of Armed Forces charities providing support in other areas such as physical health where 121 charities provide support, education and employment (78), housing (78), and mental health (76). The evidence from the report also shows that the 3,200 veterans represent those accessing services, rather than those in need, which is a potentially far higher number.

The findings reveal that small cohorts of Armed Forces charities specialise in support at different stages of the Criminal Justice System, for example when veterans are in police custody, during their time in prison, and following their release. Notably, just eight charities help individuals in prison. The most common support that charities provide for those who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System is for education and employment, delivered by just over half of the charities. The research also finds that around a fifth (39%) of Armed Forces charities provide support to family members of veterans who have been in the Criminal Justice System, with the most common being help with finances, debt support, education and employment and mental health.

The Focus On report highlights initiatives such as the Cobseo Veterans and Criminal Justice System Cluster and Project Nova as case studies of cross-sector collaboration which could be more widely adopted and emulated across the sector.

The report calls for greater partnerships between charities that support veterans in the Criminal Justice System and criminal justice support organisations, such as social services and Liaison and Diversion services. It also highlights the need to identify the number of ex-Service personnel in various stages of the Criminal Justice System in order to help charities better direct their services to these individuals and their families.

DSC Researcher and lead author of the report, Anthony Robson says:

‘Armed Forces charities play an important role in supporting veterans and their families who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System. This report not only highlights the services provided to veterans across the different stages of the Criminal Justice System, but importantly calls for the need to better direct this provision of services by enhancing cross-sector collaboration between criminal justice support organisations and Forces charities’.

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive Forces in Mind Trust says:

‘For anyone claiming to hold dear the interests of the Armed Forces community, be they a politician, official, media or charity, the DSC’s Focus On series is a must read.  This report provides the evidence base and hence understanding of the Criminal Justice System, upon which all good policy decisions should be made.’

Chloe Mackay, Co-Chair of the Cobseo (Confederation of service charities) Veterans in the Criminal Justice System Cluster says:

‘Having the support of a charity that knows what they have been through and takes an interest in them can give veterans the strength they need to turn their lives around. I welcome this report, which provides insight into the delivery of support to veterans in the Criminal Justice System.’

Download the free report at www.armedforcescharities.org.uk/criminaljustice