Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £300,000 to the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, to conduct new research into the experiences of ex-Service personnel living in Scotland.

The project, entitled You’re in Your Own Time Now, will address the current lack of up-to-date and in-depth data on ex-Service personnel in Scotland. It will map the distribution of Service leavers across Scotland and seek to understand their aspirations, concerns and support needs when leaving the Armed Forces. It will examine a range of outcomes for Service leavers including education, housing, employment, health, and finances. The project team will also undertake qualitative research with organisations that provide support to Service leavers in Scotland, as well as research with Service leavers themselves.

The findings of this study will be disseminated widely to both the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as the third sector, to help inform them about the changing landscape of Service leavers’ needs in Scotland and the resources required to support them.

The project is expected to start in mid-November 2020 and will be conducted over two years.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “FiMT’s goal is to enable successful and sustainable transition for ex-Service personnel and their families across the UK. To be able to do this we must first acknowledge and understand the differences in each of the devolved nations, including in the organisation and delivery of support, and how these can impact upon the experiences of Service leavers as they transition out of the Armed Forces. The report will complement our studies in Northern Ireland, and we continue to work with the Welsh Government to understand their evidential needs.

“This exciting project will provide policy makers, service providers and local authorities with the evidence they need to be able to make informed decisions and implement effective interventions to support the ex-Service personnel who choose to settle in Scotland.”

Doug Mackay, Project Director, University of Edinburgh, says: “I am very grateful to Forces in Mind Trust for their generous support and delighted to be working on this project in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, which already does so much to support the wider military community. The University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation initiative is focused on improving many aspects of society by harnessing the power of big data. This project is all about ensuring that servicemen and women, and their families – many of whom have made considerable sacrifices and are now returning to civilian communities – are included, and given the help they need as they make that transition.”

Dr Gerri Matthews-Smith, University lead for Military Research, Edinburgh Napier University, says: “I’m delighted to be the research lead on this important study and look forward to accurately representing the voices and perceptions of military personnel here in Scotland. This is a practice-based study with a real Scottish focus that will have a positive impact on the military community.

“At Edinburgh Napier University, we have a proud history of supporting the military, including through high-level research projects focusing on military families, and on developing a better understanding of PTSD in service personnel and its potential treatments. This latest study will deepen our knowledge and further strengthen those armed forces links.”