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Over a third of veterans aged 50+ experience discrimination when looking for work

New research published today has found that, despite the skills and experiences veterans offer, over a third of 50+ Service leavers reported experiencing ageism, anti-military bias or both, and 1 in 5 are working in non-permanent positions such as casual employment, some because they are unable to find sustainable long-term employment.

Funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and delivered by the Centre for Older Workers (CROW) for the Officers’ Association (OA), the report: Understanding Service Leavers aged 50+ lays bare the results of intensive interviews and workshops.

This timely and ground-breaking project investigates the experiences and attitudes of Service leavers aged 50+ as they transition from military to civilian employment, exploring the challenges faced across all ranks. The report comes at a vital time where the Coronavirus pandemic has made the job market extremely uncertain but where firms will need the versatility and skills of veterans to help their recovery.

The report calls for a consolidated approach between our Armed Forces, MOD, employers and charitable stakeholders in developing a programme to enable older workers to find the right arrangements for their final years of work. It advocates an extension of diversity and inclusion policies and practices to help combat bias against 50+ Service leavers.

Furthermore, The Centre for Ageing Better reports that over 800,000 people in the UK aged between 50 and 65 want to be working but are not, and that getting them into the right employment could contribute £18 billion worth of GDP. Fixing this could unlock significant benefits for the UK economy as it looks to rebuild in the aftermath of the Covid-19 economic shock.

The report can be found here and the executive summary report can be found here.

Chief Executive of the Officers’ Association, Lee Holloway commented: “One age group consistently stands out as experiencing increased difficulties in moving from military to civilian employment – those aged 50 years and over. While there is a growing body of evidence testifying to the barriers facing all veterans seeking employment, none has examined the hurdles faced by this age group.

More needs to be done to align the needs of older veterans available and wanting to work for longer with the quality and diversity of the work on offer. This report adds to the recent momentum in wider society of supporting and highlighting the special skills and experiences of our country’s veterans, now we must support them as they have supported us.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust commented:“This research adds to a strong body of evidence which shows that many employers are not capitalising on the experience and skills of Service leavers. This report shows that businesses are missing out on the valuable skills gained from a long and successful career in the military, often due to employers’ misguided perceptions of military and age.

While Service leavers need to take the time to prepare themselves for the civilian job market, more needs to be done to help them to do this. Not just because it is the right thing to do but because it makes good business sense.”

Forces in Mind Trust recognises the achievements of the 2020 Soldiering On Awards finalists

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of FiMT says: “Last Friday (24th April) we should have been dressed up in our finest outfits for the announcement of the winners of the 2020 Soldiering On Awards. Thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, the ceremony has had to be rescheduled for 2nd October, when it will bring together people from across the Armed Forces community to salute the success of those working tirelessly in this sector. I’m certainly looking forward to raising a glass to everyone ‘on the other side’. In the meantime, we applaud and celebrate the achievements of each and every finalist.

In 2014, with the Soldiering On Awards team, we created the ‘Working Together’ category, and we’ve been the primary sponsor ever since. Our award recognises the commitment and innovative approach to collaboration by an individual, team or organization within the Armed Forces community.

Once again, our finalists have shown an enduring commitment to collaboration. Charnwood, Melton and Rushcliffe Borough Councils Partnership; Forces Connect South East; and Sussex, Kent & Medway Armed Forces Network Team are great examples of what can be achieved when you work together. It is an overused cliché, but it really is a privilege to be able to recognise the difference these organizations have made to the successful transition of ex-Service personnel in areas such as health, housing and employment.

At FiMT a collaborative approach is at the heart of what we do, and collaboration is one of the ways in which we’re going to fight our way through the current situation. We work all the time with policy makers, private and public sector organizations, academics and researchers, as well as other charities, to identify and share best practice for the benefit of the whole Armed Forces community. Seeing this approach put into front-line action, and recognising and rewarding those who do so, will inspire others to follow suit.

The Soldiering On Awards is an event that we are very proud to be a part of. Every year the Awards recognise many exceptional individuals and organizations, and give us all pause to look back on their extraordinary achievements.

Although the awards event didn’t take place on Friday, all of us at FiMT are looking forward to the 2nd October. Until then, we wish every one of the finalists the best of luck, and say thank you for your continued hard work.”


Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) is currently recruiting a full time Communications Officer 

The Trust is seeking to recruit an experienced and flexible Communications Officer with strong traditional and digital communication skills, stakeholder management and Public Affairs expertise.  The role of the Communications Officer is critical to the effectiveness of FiMT in achieving its mission.

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) was established in 2011 with a £35 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund to spend over a 20-year period. Our vision is for all ex-Service personnel and their families to lead fulfilled civilian lives, and our mission is to enable successful sustainable transition back to civilian life.   The Trust awards grants and commissions research to generate a strong evidence base for influencing policy makers and service deliverers and has recently increased its focus on influencing and convening thought-leadership activity.

Full job description here.

To apply, please email a CV (no more than 2 sides of A4) and a Supporting Statement explaining how your skills and experience fit the role, to

The deadline for applications is Friday 29 May 2020.

Interviews will be held in the week commencing 15 June 2020 either in London or virtually, depending on the advice on COVID19.

Forces in Mind Trust awards grant to the University of Chester to help motivate ex-Service personnel to register with GPs

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £133,150 to the University of Chester to conduct research to examine how an advertising campaign can motivate ex-Service personnel to register with Primary Health Care practices.

This project will build upon earlier reports which show that ex-Service personnel can hold negative attitudes towards registering with GPs. This can lead to low awareness of the support available to them, as well as a limited understanding of their needs by primary health care professionals.

The study aims to identify what motivates veterans to register with a GP and to inform them of their Armed Forces status. It will look at which parts of an advertising campaign are effective at influencing veterans to register, examine trends relating to the demographic of the ex-Service personnel who do register, and provide detail relating to their physical and mental health profile. The project will also develop a theoretical model highlighting the primary initiatives that are successful in encouraging ex-Service personnel to register.

The project was awarded under FiMT’s Health Programme and is expected to be conducted over two years.

FiMT are committed to supporting the Armed Forces community throughout and beyond COVID-19 and this includes the continuation of funding to much needed projects such as this grant. The latest FiMT COVID-19 response can be found here.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust says, “This study will build upon the existing research and help to develop a solution by providing a solid evidence base on the health needs of veterans whilst seeking to positively change behaviour. This will lead to improved recognition of the needs of ex-Service personnel from point of presentation and a better understanding of clinical priorities.”

Professor Alan Finnegan from the Westminster Centre for Research in Veterans at the University of Chester is Principal Investigator for this study and says, “Veterans are entitled to a broad range of healthcare benefits, and to maximise the uptake of these services, then it is vital that ex-Service personnel and their families register with a Primary Healthcare practice. Equally important is that the Primary Healthcare staff of General Practitioners, nurses and ancillary staff are mindful of the veteran’s status and that this is correctly recorded. This study will explore the factors that can be employed to maximise the Primary Healthcare offered to veterans and present a cost-effective template that can be implemented on a national basis.”

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Forces in Mind Trust shortlisted for UK Charity Governance Awards 2020

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has been shortlisted for the UK-wide Charity Governance Awards 2020. It is in the running for an ‘Improving Impact’ award, which comes with a £5,000 unrestricted grant. FiMT is one of 21 charities from across the country that complete the full shortlist.

FiMT joins other charities engaged in a diverse range of activities that include health care, support for victims of domestic abuse, and education access for those experiencing disadvantage. The professional judging panel has shortlisted the entries and will select a winner in each of the seven categories.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive at FiMT, says: “It’s an honour to be considered for these highly-respected awards, and to have reached this stage. I’m really proud that our work and, crucially, the impact our work is having, have been recognised. Our mission is to provide an evidence base that will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.

“Our strategic shift to a programmatic-based approach was led by our board and is being executed by our staff. As a result, our ability to effect change and be more influential have grown; we have been responsible for a number of major policy and service delivery improvements, leading to an increase in successful transitions for ex-Service personnel and improved psychological wellbeing – two of the key objectives set by our founder, the National Lottery Community Fund.”

Michael Jarvis, who chairs the Awards for the organisers The Clothworkers’ Company, said, “Congratulations to all our shortlisted candidates – we are continuing to hear such inspiring stories from the sector. Of course, we are celebrating these successes from what feels like a different era; before the current coronavirus crisis hit.

“This is a difficult time for us all, but charities, often at the frontline of support for the most vulnerable members of our society, are currently facing a set of unprecedented challenges. Not only in how they carry out their day-to-day work, some are experiencing first-hand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but for others it’s a fight for their very existence as we simultaneously face an immense economic challenge in the coming months.

“But the creative, courageous and generous work of the voluntary sector during recent weeks has been a great source of light and positivity during this dark time. I hope that the stories from our shortlisted entrants provide a reminder of what we can achieve together, now and in the future.”

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony cannot go ahead. Instead, the winners will be announced on 21 May 2020 via a special online presentation from the historic Clothworkers’ Hall in London, which will include a ‘keynote’ from Becca Bunce (Co-Director of the IC Change Convention, feminist and disability advocate).

You can follow the awards on Twitter via @CharityGovAward or by using the hashtag #CharityGov20. Winners will be announced on the website following the virtual ceremony in May – visit


Forces in Mind Trust awards funds to Northumbria University to explore social isolation and loneliness among war widows

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £99,979 to Northumbria University to examine the prevalence of social isolation and loneliness among UK war widows.

The project, developed by Northumbria University in collaboration with the War Widows Association, aims to map and understand war widows’ experiences, identify the social participation services available to them, and examine their unmet needs.

With many military families living in Service Family Accommodation at or close to their place of work, they can form close friendships and networks with other serving families. Isolation following the loss of a spouse can be particularly prevalent for those in these communities.

There are almost 15,000 war widows and widowers in the UK today and this study will inform national debate and lead to the development of policy recommendations and guidance for improved service provision.

The project, whose start has been delayed by COVID-19, is due to begin in September 2020. It was awarded under FiMT’s Health Programme and is expected to last two years.

FiMT are committed to supporting the Armed Forces community throughout and beyond COVID-19 and this includes the continuation of funding to much needed projects such as this grant. The latest FiMT COVID-19 response can be found here.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive at FiMT says: “Social isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on a person’s health and wellbeing, and the issue is more pressing today than ever before. Military life brings unique challenges. Service personnel and their families often face multiple moves and, when they leave the Armed Forces they can also leave behind a very close network. This can make people more vulnerable to isolation. Losing a spouse through service makes it even harder. This research is therefore both relevant and timely and will provide us with the necessary insights to produce a powerful set of recommendations that will improve the support for our war widows and widowers.”

Dr Gemma Wilson, Project lead at Northumbria University says: “Internationally, loneliness and social isolation are now recognised as being linked to poor physical health and well-being, and there is growing understanding of these issues being related to both widowhood and the Armed Forces Community.  However, there is currently a lack of evidence specifically examining social isolation and loneliness in the war widows’ population, including those in the U.K. This project aims to explore the experiences of social isolation and loneliness and understand services targeting war widows’ social participation.  We are thrilled to be working with Forces in Mind Trust and partnering with the War Widows Association on this project.”

Mary Moreland, Chairman of the War Widows Association says: “The membership of the War Widows’ Association covers all three services, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, irrespective of age, rank or service of the deceased. When there is no longer a serving person in the family unit those left behind are very frequently forgotten. Bereavement can add to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, however as war widows no longer belong to the armed forces community, these feeling may be magnified. On behalf of the Association I am delighted to be working in collaboration with Northumbria University and Forces in Mind Trust on this project. It is a very exciting opportunity to build an evidence base from research on an extremely relevant topic and on a group where little research has been completed.”



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.

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:



Who we have helped:

Twitter: @FiMTrust

About Northumbria University:

The funding was awarded to Northumbria University due to its extensive experience of working to improve the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families. The University is home to The Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families research hub – a collective of academics, service providers and service users working to understand the complexities that veterans and their families experience.

Forces in Mind Trust funds business mapping exercise to boost veterans’ employment 

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £7,500 to X-Forces Enterprise to research and map business membership organisations and trade associations as part of a drive to improve employment opportunities for ex-Service personnel within small and medium sized businesses 

The research, jointly funded by X-Forces Enterprise, will ultimately assess how businesses can best employ ex-Service personnel and benefit from their skills. It will also identify the most suitable career opportunities for former Service personnel. Initially through desk research, a survey and focus groups, the project will map trade bodies, organisations and networks, identify the leading bodies within each sector, and examine any existing engagement with the Armed Forces community 

This is the first phase in a larger project to encourage businesses to employ ex-Service personnel. The award was made under FiMT’s Employment Programme and this first phase is expected to be conducted over two months.  

FiMT are committed to supporting the Armed Forces community throughout and beyond COVID-19 and this includes the continuation of funding to much needed projects such as this grant. The latest FiMT COVID-19 response can be found here.   

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of FiMT, says: “Previous research has highlighted a lack of understanding among businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, about the benefits of employing ex-Service personnel. This project will provide us with a strong foundation upon which to formulate an engagement plan which will target key organisations in each sector. Ultimately, the aim is to ensure organisations are better informed and are involved in the employment of ex-Service personnel. We want employers to understand that engagement with the Armed Forces community makes good business sense. As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it will be important for us as a nation to make the very best of the talent we have. 

Ren Kapur, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of X-Forces Enterprise, says Employment opportunities within the SME sector are just as varied and as exciting as they are within large corporate organisations. The business owners we typically work with are already well aware of the benefits of recruiting from the military communityThrough this project this message can be amplified to the wider SME sector utilising a variety of trade bodies and business networks. We are delighted to be working with FiMT and extending the reach of what we can do for the communityThis effort combined with other recommendations made through ‘A Force for Business* ensures a multi-faceted approach to dealing with this large scale opportunity. 

*A Force For Business: Service Leavers and Small Businesses, Federation of Small Businesses, June 2019.


Covid-19 update 2

When my friend and former RAF colleague died last year in a flying accident, I put into practice something I’d heard Cariad Lloyd speak about on her ‘Griefcast’. Don’t add to the grieving family’s problems, Cariad advises, by asking them to identify their needs – the classic “if there’s anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask”. Think instead what you believe would be helpful, and offer it straight up, so that a simple yes/no response is all that’s needed.

The reaction to the economic impact of the Covid-19 response in the charities sector has been largely as you’d expect from a shock of such magnitude, with some parallels to the grieving process. As a funder, we’ve tried to be that friend who can provide help without burdening those struggling through an unimaginably difficult time. We’ve probably erred on the side of “call us if you need anything”, but then our strategy, which is to fund others to do work and then use the results to effect systemic change, requires us to be generalists rather than experts.

When the lockdown happened, as a team who routinely works from home one or two days a week, our Forces in Mind Trust staff of 10 was well prepared. But it has struck me how having everyone working from home at once, combined with the same for everyone else we interact with, has led to communicating taking up most of the day. Which leaves little time for actually doing stuff, and less for thinking, and barely any for dog walking.

This shouldn’t really have come as a surprise – the second half of my RAF career spanning 35 years was spent not flying, but commanding, often from a bunker or a tent. Some days were simply a constant procession of meetings, virtual or otherwise, and only at 10pm did you get around to reading that report, making that longer-term plan, or writing that decisive instruction.

And I know it’s stretching the analogy, but at FiMT we probably suffer a little from ‘survivor’s guilt’. Being a Lottery-endowed spend out Trust, who doesn’t fund raise, the impact of Covid-19 on our staff has been limited – extended working from home and a possible earlier-than-planned closure if our stock market investments don’t recover.

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have been in touch with all our grant holders. A few are unaffected. Some have asked for time extensions for their projects, which is a no brainer. Some will need more funding to deliver against their original programme, and by working closely with my Trustees, we’re able to agree that in short order. For some projects which were nearing their end, we have brought forward final payments to help with cash flow; and for those launches we had planned, we’re applying a mixture of delay, and launch in a different way, such as a webinar.

More interesting are the projects that want to adapt.

  • Our Clore Emerging Leaders Programme for Armed Forces charities, about to start its third iteration, is re-purposing its grant to develop and pilot a different type of programme, ideally to achieve the same results. This new approach should enhance leadership development across all of Clore’s (and other’s) activities.
  • In Scotland, our trial of on-line mentoring with TimeBank for veterans experiencing difficulties has been extended to replace traditional face-to-face services, at very modest additional cost.
  • We’ve had a relationship with the Directory of Social Change for over seven years and they’ve delivered some of our most influential work through the ArmedForceCharities Their knowledge of the inner working of our sector is unparalleled, and fiercely independent. When Cobseo, the Confederation of Service Charities, needed information on the financial impact of Covid-19, we were able quickly to produce insightful and accurate data and analysis.
  • Our Research Centre at Anglia Ruskin University hasn’t been idle after the disappointment of postponing its annual conference, and has been collaborating on developing an archive of veterans’ stories which will be invaluable in resetting public perceptions of what wider contribution the Armed Forces Community makes to society.

I would argue though that the biggest contribution we can make to the country is to stand back from the immediate and look ahead – around the corner, up the stairs and out through the window.

Our mission, to enable successful and sustainable transition from military to civilian life hasn’t changed. Neither has our strategy. But the environment within which we will be operating most certainly has.

The charities sector; local authorities; the public; all will look very different. Needs will change, and so will the means with which they are met. Will the Armed Forces Covenant survive in its current form? Who would argue that a soldier with two years’ national service in the 1950s is more deserving than an intensive care nurse, veteran of Covid-19?

To reach this destination will be a journey that probably has some way to go down before beginning its rise up – with plenty of dips in between. Coming out of lockdown and losing some of that national unity, and then the gradual removal of emergency powers within the Coronavirus Bill, which has provided protection for tenants, employers and employees, will quite possibly be more challenging than anything we’ve faced so far.

Our contribution is to look for important and impactful work. We are continuing to award grants where we believe this to be the case, and will shortly announce the latest batch, some of which were made before the extent of the pandemic was known. We are not about to give up the capability to make systemic changes by spending our limited funds on current and direct service delivery. Others are better placed to do this, and they in turn lack the capability to conduct the futures work that we can.

But we’re not ignoring the here and now, and as a permanent member of its Executive Committee, we’re at the heart of Cobseo’s work. We’ve augmented its communications capability to assist the whole membership, ensured that its Headquarters is well informed as it lobbies for better Government support, and are looking out through the Covid-19 fog to see what the landscape looks like beyond – and to help prepare the sector for it.

Looking ahead, working collaboratively, supporting others. Persuading, convening. Cajoling. This is what we’re good at, and this is how we’re going to help the Armed Forces Community through Covid-19.



Forces in Mind Trust response to Covid-19 – update 1