Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £1000 to The Royal British Legion to fund a virtual conference, Understanding domestic abuse within the Armed Forces Community.

The conference, originally planned for March 2020 but postponed due to Covid-19, will now be held online on Wednesday 7th October. The event will offer delegates the chance to hear insights from new research on domestic abuse within the Armed Forces Community and discuss what improvements can be made to better support serving and ex-Service personnel and their families.

Findings from three research studies will be presented on the day. Dr Emma Williamson will be speaking about the Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Military Families: Improving Signposting to Specialist Support research; Dr Deirdre MacManus will be providing insights from her ongoing project exploring domestic violence and abuse among military spouses and partners; and Dr Harriet Gray will be speaking about her study on Responses to Domestic Abuse in the British Armed Forces. The Chair of the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Domestic Abuse Working Group, David Adams, will be providing an update on the MOD’s Domestic Abuse Strategy with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, providing a national context.

The conference, which is a collaboration between The Royal British Legion, the Ministry of Defence, the University of Bristol, and The North East Hants Domestic Abuse Forum, and funded by FiMT, will take place at 10am on Wednesday 7th October. Those wishing to attend can sign up here.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “I am delighted that we can support this conference. Originally recommended by Emma and her team in the FiMT-funded Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Military Families report, this event is a great example of the influence research can have, and it is encouraging to see the wide range of organisations involved.”

“Whilst progress has been made, it is clear that more needs to be done to support the Armed Forces Community who experience domestic violence and abuse, particularly around reducing stigma and encouraging help seeking.  A collaborative approach is needed and we will continue to work hard to ensure this happens.”

Gail Walters, Assistant Director Operations of The Royal British Legion, says: “Covid-19 has forced us to rethink how we deliver this important conference. I am grateful to all partners for supporting us in ensuring these important insights are available and that the best support can reach our Armed Forces Community.”

“Previous research has shown that the Armed Forces Community can face specific barriers which prevent them from seeking support for domestic abuse and this can be made more challenging where there is a lack of understanding of how civilian and Armed Forces service sectors work alongside each other. This conference aims to bring these sectors together, increase awareness and understanding of key issues, and identify areas for better collaboration. This is just the start and we look forward to working with all of the organisations involved to maintain this momentum.”