The Forces in Mind Trust has awarded a grant of £75,000 for the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol to carry out an evaluation of a self-build project involving ex-Service Personnel.

The self-build project is being run by Community Self Build Agency (CSBA). The evaluation will attempt to record and quantify the impact that self-build projects can have on ex-Service personnel by using participants who are currently undergoing a difficult transition. The current scheme to be evaluated is based in Bedminster in Bristol and involves 10 ex-Service Personnel who have encountered problems such as drink and drugs during their transition.

Once the accommodation is complete, participants will be able to rent two bedroom units allowing them to house their families and thus creating a stable family unit, which without the project may not have been possible.

The project is due to be completed by the end of 2014 and the evaluation report will be used to support a programme of further similar projects for ex-service personnel across the UK. The CSBA are partnered with Knightstone Housing Association who will manage the property when complete. A construction company will be providing some of the training, site management and materials, equipment and plant provision that participants will require to carry out their work.

Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Anthony Plumridge said: “We are grateful to the Forces in Mind Trust for their generosity which has made the evaluation that we are conducting at the University of the West of England possible. The CSBA’s self-build project will undoubtedly improve the poor transitions of ex-Service personnel and I am privileged to be a part of this worthy cause.”

Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock said: “One of key challenges faced by ex-Service personnel as they transition from military to civilian life is to find suitable accommodation after they leave the Armed Forces.  For some, this, combined with other issues such as mental health and alcohol misuse, can leave them with low self-esteem and poor ‘job-readiness’.  The UWE and CSBA’s project aims, not just to provide ex-Service personnel with accommodation they have built themselves, but also to raise their self-esteem and sense of self-worth, are extremely worthwhile.  But the evaluation of the project is exactly what the Forces in Mind Trust was established to do – to provide clear evidence of what works well, so that others (in this case the community self-build area) can develop their thinking and so improve their effectiveness.  We are delighted to be able to play a part in this exciting project.”