A new evaluation report, funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has found that advocacy service The Veterans’ Advocacy People, delivered by The Advocacy People, had significant positive outcomes for ex-Service personnel. The report was launched at an online event today (28th January), attended by Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, and James Sunderland MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Veterans and of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces Covenant. The report found that the service had a range of benefits for ex-Service personnel and their families, with a social return on investment of £4.74 for every £1 spent.
SERIO, an applied research unit at the University of Plymouth, undertook the evaluation, concluding that there were significant benefits to ex-Service personnel who engaged with the service. Outcomes included onward referrals with appropriate organizations, access to support groups, resolved housing issues, clearing of debt, improved finances and access to education.
SERIO also reported a positive impact on the Advocates themselves, who found the role rewarding and fulfilling, and increased their awareness of issues faced by the veteran community.
As well as listing specific outcomes, such as securing employment, the report includes insights from ex-Service personnel who accessed the service, demonstrating the overall impact on their wellbeing. One individual said: “The service has helped me hugely. It has taken me from being suicidal to having the support of someone I trust, someone I can talk to.”
Another added: “My confidence has come back. My whole life has changed. I am more confident now. A few months ago, I would not have been able to talk to you. The main thing that is positive for me is the ability to conduct my own affairs. It has built my confidence in myself.”
The Veterans’ Advocacy People delivered advocacy services to ex-Service personnel and their families in five areas – Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire; Plymouth, Devon and Torbay; Wiltshire; Berkshire East and North Hampshire; and Essex. FiMT funded a comprehensive evaluation of the service to assess the effectiveness of advocacy for veterans.
The research is based on 199 people who received one-to-one Advocate support. The most common issues presented were benefits (34%), health and social care (21%), housing and homelessness (18%) and legal/financial (10%).
Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said:
“Although most Service leavers make a successful transition to civilian life, some will face challenges either immediately or further down the line. After a life in the military, ex-Service personnel can struggle to navigate complicated civilian welfare systems. This is where advocacy services such as The Veterans’ Advocacy People can make a difference.
“As SERIO’s evaluation has found, The Veterans Advocacy People provides tangible benefits to ex-Service personnel, and has a good social return on investment. This report demonstrates the value of advocacy in giving ex-Service personnel a voice, and empowering them to take control of their lives. We now hope to see it rolled out across the UK.”
Matthew Hilton, Chief Executive Office of The Advocacy People, said:
“Too often, the quantifiable benefits of what advocacy can deliver are ignored. The report from SERIO addresses that head on. Timely and time-limited advocacy interventions can help people – including veterans – regain control of their lives and avoid unnecessary long-term reliance on others. This is a model for how we could help so many reclaim their voice and their independence.”
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Notes to editors
About Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT)
Forces in Mind Trust was founded in November 2011 by a £35 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (now The National Lottery Community Fund). As a member of Cobseo – the Confederation of Service Charities and a permanent member of its Executive Committee, the Trust works within the Armed Forces charities sector, and much more widely, to support the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces Community.
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’s grants and commissions are designed to generate sustained change that improves the lives of ex-Service personnel and their families. FiMT awards grants and commissions research to support its Change Model based on seven outcomes: Housing; Employment; Health; Finance; Criminal Justice System; Relationships; and its Enabler programme.
About The Advocacy People
The Advocacy People believe in a society where;
- people feel in control of their lives and are confident to speak up and
- people who can’t speak up for themselves have someone in their corner to speak for them.
It is our mission to:
- help anybody that needs independent support to speak up
- deliver quality and innovation in advocacy through our practice
- improve people’s lives individually and collectively through putting their case to policymakers
- People are at the heart of what we do. Anyone can feel powerless and unable to speak up when faced with a difficult situation.
- Anyone should have access to an advocate
- People matter. In an equal society, decisions about people’s lives must be made fairly, involving the person as far as possible
- People make the difference. If our staff are happy at work, they will be effective at work
- People should be heard at every level of policy and decision-making. We work hard to make this happen