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In response to today’s Queen’s Speech, Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive at the Forces in Mind Trust, the leading research and policy grant-making charity working in the Armed Forces community, has cautiously welcomed the announcements included.

He said: “The ‘Strategy for our Veterans’ has the potential to transform how ex-Service personnel and their families are supported by the nation. Having understandably delayed the Government’s consultation response until after the recent general election, the Office for Veterans Affairs now has a key and immediate role in producing an action plan that will actually make a difference to people’s lives.

“Any measures Government can take to improve employment prospects of veterans are welcome. But we must be careful to avoid the narrative that veterans are in some ways needy or broken. Our research suggests such misperceptions are not just damaging, but are widespread amongst employers. The Office can lead the charge, with others such as ourselves, to dispel these myths.

“Finally, our research shows that the Covenant is widely misunderstood by the public sector and members of the Armed Forces community. I’m not convinced that legislation is the solution – better communications, active and committed local champions and leaders, and shared best practice – these are all areas that our research suggests can greatly improve support to the Armed Forces community.

“I do want to emphasize that the Armed Forces community doesn’t want to be granted an advantage over the rest of society – they just want to be treated fairly. Government needs to be careful that in taking positive action. It doesn’t inadvertently perpetuate the myths that everyone’s a special case (although some are) and that somehow veterans are a drain on society – they’re not. They are a fantastic asset that the whole country needs to tap into.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Edward Haynes at edward@amazonpr.co.uk / 020 7700 6952.

 

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

FiMT came about from a partnership between the then 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

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Specialist military advocacy service evaluation shows improved mental wellbeing and financial position

Today (18th December) Forces in Mind Trust has published an interim evaluation of an advocacy programme which helps ex-Service personnel and their families to navigate support services and get their lives back on track. The military Advocacy service (mAs) is run by specialist charity seAp (Support, Empower, Advocate, Promote).

The FiMT-funded evaluation, being conducted by University of Plymouth research unit SERIO, has found that the support provided by mAs has been positive for members of the Armed Forces community and has also been useful for other support providers.  Organisations in the charity sector felt the service is complementary to the support they offer, fills a gap in existing provision and is flexible and responsive to the needs of the community.

Using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, and backed by in-depth client interviews, the evaluation found that those who accessed support from mAs reported significant improvements in their mental wellbeing and in their ability to deal with problems. The clients also felt that that they were being listened to and that their issues were being taken seriously.  The fact that mAs is designed specifically for the Armed Forces community, and many of the advocates have an Armed Forces background, was found to be particularly helpful by clients who had previously been reluctant to access, or continue accessing, more generic support services.

Ex-Service personnel and their families accessed mAs for a range of reasons, most commonly for help with benefits payments, health and social care and housing.  Over a two-year period, the evaluation found that mAs supported 140 cases with financial difficulties which resulted in positive financial gains of over £750,000 for clients through grants, benefit and pension gains and written-off debts.

While the report found that the service is positive, many stakeholders felt there is a need to increase awareness of mAs and better communicate its offer to stakeholders. It also found that there is appetite for a greater level of service coverage, both in terms of geographical reach and the number of advocates, to ensure that more of the Armed Forces community can benefit from the services offered.

The report can be accessed here and a final report, which will include a social return on investment analysis of mAs, is due to be published in 2020.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “While the majority of ex-Service personnel transition successfully from military to civilian life, previous research has shown that for some, transition can be a challenge and they can face difficulties in knowing where to go for support.  mAs seeks to help them with this by providing a tailored, client led, and peer delivered advocacy service for ex-Service personnel to ensure they receive the support they are entitled to.  FiMT funded this evaluation to generate an evidence base of the impact of mAs, and the interim report is already showcasing the positive outcomes for ex-Service personnel who have used the service.”

Liz Fenton, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of seAp, said: “Advocacy is about standing alongside clients with the aim of helping those clients get their voices heard. Here at seAp we have been really excited to see how well this approach translates to working alongside veterans with complex problems and to see the impact our mAs work can have. At a time when ensuring investment in even the best services is difficult, it is heartening to see such powerful evidence that the work we do is really worthwhile”.

Ends

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 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 seAp

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

Forces in Mind Trust awards capacity-building grant to ensure the Armed Forces community receives the best possible mental health support

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded funds of £50,500 to the Contact Group to support its programme of work over two years.

The Contact Group is the collaboration of third sector, statutory providers and support organisations which deliver mental health support to the UK Armed Forces community.  Contact members work to ensure that the Armed Forces community is provided with the best possible mental health advice and support, and that treatment pathways are as good as they can be.

The award will fund a project officer and help with travel costs for the Group. This will enable Contact to continue to develop a substantial programme of work to help it achieve its aims of increasing the capacity of mental health services, developing best practice guidelines, supporting the planning of future services and understanding the needs of veterans.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “Contact is a unique and important organisation which plays a significant role in bringing together mental health providers from across the UK. This grant will provide Contact with the capacity it needs to continue its work in helping organisations to provide the best possible mental health support to the Armed Forces community.”

Dr Charles Winstanley, Chair of Contact Group, says: “Contact is grateful for this critical FiMT support. It will enable us to energetically collaborate within the sector, develop and promote consistency of approach, and provide an impartial view of the UK’s progress in looking after the mental health of the Armed Forces community.”

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 Contact Group:

Contact was established in 2016, and was initially funded by The Royal Foundation.

The core membership of Contact comprises the UK’s statutory and third sector providers of mental health services to the Armed Forces community, health policy makers and commissioners in England, Scotland, and Wales, together with sector researchers.

Associate members of Contact comprise organisations providing clinical and relevant non-clinical services to the armed forces community.

Contact is the mental health cluster for COBSEO.

The independent Chair of Contact is appointed in open competition, and is an unpaid role. Dr Charles Winstanley has a background in NHS leadership and is a former soldier.

The Group meet quarterly and hosts an annual sector workshop.

The FiMT grant provides all of Contact’s operating costs, principally the salary of a part-time project officer.

Useful links:

Website: www.contactarmedforces.co.uk

Twitter: @Contact_AF

Black Country Chamber of Commerce to launch nationwide, Armed Forces Covenant Initiative

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce has announced a national programme of support for the Armed Forces Covenant.

The announcement comes following the Black Country Chamber of Commerce’s successful bid to the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) from which they have been awarded funding to deliver a package of support that provides all Chambers of Commerce across England & Wales with the tools, knowledge and understanding to effectively promote the value of the Armed Forces Covenant to business.

With the full backing of the British Chambers of Commerce the project, ‘Chamber of Commerce Military and Business project’ to be known as Chamber Military Network,  seeks to improve  knowledge and understanding  within organisations of the covenant and the business benefits of recruiting from the Armed Forces Community, through the development of marketing support packages, mentoring and engagement opportunities on a national scale.  Working with Defence Relationship Management (DRM), the Black Country Chamber of Commerce team will directly engage with British Chamber’s, their business members and the wider Armed Forces Community  to encourage a proactive approach to carrying out covenant pledge commitments, increase the profile of the Armed Forces Community in business and connect military-owned businesses with commercial opportunities.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Our previous research has shown that there are many organisations who wish to support the Armed Forces Community but do not know how to do so. This project seeks to address this gap in knowledge by utilising the networks of the British Chambers of Commerce to promote a better understanding of the Covenant and better delivery of Covenant pledges.”

To date more than 4000 organisations have signed the Armed Forces Covenant including businesses and charities nationwide. The scheme will see Chambers and their members undertake the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant and deliver their employment pledges as part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

Speaking at the annual CEO briefing (4th Dec) Corin Crane Chief Executive, Black Country Chamber of Commerce said: “The Black Country Chamber of Commerce team has over the years gained a wealth of experience in developing and encouraging engagement between military and business communities. We have been able to develop a ‘blueprint’ approach to how the Chamber of Commerce can effectively support the aims of the covenant and we have directly seen the  benefit it can have on the well-being of the whole Armed Forces Community, in particular to Veteran’s, Reservists and spouses of serving personnel. We aim to transfer this knowledge and understanding into a consistent package of support which can be rolled out on a national scale, we are delighted to have been awarded the funds to do this by FiMT and to be given the opportunity to further develop our support for the Armed Forces.”

David Riches, Spokesperson for the British Chambers of Commerce, said, “The British Chamber of Commerce is well-placed to support the Armed Forces Covenant and act as a conduit between business and the defence community. As the only organisation that helps British businesses to build relationships on every level, we want to encourage engagement throughout our network with the military community, we are grateful to FiMT for their support.”

 

-ENDS-

 

Notes to editors:

About Black Country Chamber of Commerce

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) is the leading regional business support agency for firms based within or doing business across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. The BCCC operates in a not-for-profit capacity and work hard for their members across the region’s business community.

Through their services and initiatives, they provide platforms and opportunities for businesses to grow, connect and become part of a thriving network which shines a spotlight on the amazing work local companies are doing and helps to make the Black Country a great place to do business.

For further information about the project ‘Chamber of Commerce Military and Business Project and press enquiries please contact:

Sarah Walker, Project Manager Black Country Chamber of Commerce

Email: sarahwalker@blackcountrychamber.co.uk

Telephone: 0330 024 0820

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. http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life. FiMT delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery, and by strengthening the Armed Forces charities sector through collaboration and leadership, and by building its capacity.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model 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.

About the Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant represents a promise by the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. The Armed Forces Covenant can be signed by: Businesses of all sizes. Charitable organisations. Local authorities.

Useful links:

Website: https://www.blackcountrychamber.co.uk

Website: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk

Website: https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk

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