A new Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) funded report assessing the services available for, and provided to, Commonwealth serving and ex-Service personnel and their families, was released today, 22 March 2018, and has identified a number of improvements to better focus services for the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community.
Thirteen recommendations are provided in the report to strengthen the strategy to meet the needs of serving and ex-Service personnel and their families from the Commonwealth within a complex and still politically charged society. These include:
- The introduction of an online information training programme on immigration rules
- Assistance for welfare services advising on visa and immigration rules
- A review of the minimum income threshold
- A need for greater collaboration across the Armed Forces welfare sector
- Increase in research into Commonwealth perspectives
The eight-month study was undertaken by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), working directly with the Cobseo Foreign and Commonwealth Cluster Group. It focussed on the existing service provision to better understand: what welfare support is currently provided, the needs identified by supporting organisations and how support could be enhanced.
Researchers collected data through a survey by the Armed Forces charity sector and telephone interviews with experts in the field of service provision.
Three key issues were identified. Firstly, information gathering and recording with regard the Commonwealth community are limited across the charity sector and prevent forward planning for service provision; secondly, immigration difficulties were highlighted which can lead to difficult transition back into civilian life; and thirdly, the services provided have a relatively low up-take by the cohort.
Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The purpose of Forces in Mind Trust is to enable all ex-Service personnel to have a successful and sustainable transition back into civilian life. This can be done by providing robust evidence to policy makers and service providers to inform decision making.
“This ground-breaking research commissioned by FiMT on behalf of the Cobseo Cluster group highlights that there are areas where changes are much needed in the services provided to the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community, communications with them, and underpinning Home Office and Ministry of Defence policies.”
Matt Fossey, Director of the Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, said: “This empirically driven report has collated important evidence of the welfare needs of Commonwealth Service Personnel, veterans and their families and proposes attainable recommendations, which will make a positive difference to the lives of members of the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community.”
Louise Simpson, Policy & Research Director, Army Families’ Federation (AFF) said: “At a time when we are seeing a growing number of F&C soldiers and their families asking us for help and support, we’re delighted to see that the recommendations that we’ve been making, such as targeted information to the F&C community, and the need for financial education and support finally have the strong corroboration needed to progress these important issues for our F&C families.”
You can read the report here.
Note to Editor: Ray Lock and Matt Fossey are available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on email@example.com or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.
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.
Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/
About the Mental Health Research Programme: www.fim-trust.org/mental-health/research-programme/
About Anglia Ruskin University
Anglia Ruskin is an innovative global university, brimming with ambition. Students from 177 countries gain qualifications with us in four continents. Students, academics, businesses and partners all benefit from our outstanding facilities; we’ve invested £100 million over the last five years and plan to invest a further £91 million over the next five years.
Anglia Ruskin’s Research Institutes and five faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields. We deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference, from saving lives to conserving water. Our academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 12 areas classed as generating world-leading research.
We are ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and in 2016 we featured in a list of the 20 “rising stars” in global Higher Education compiled by strategy consultants Firetail.