The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), established to help ex-Service men and women make a successful transition back to civilian life, has awarded a grant of £324,998 to Finchale Training College. The project, called Joint Transition Support Service, will support the successful transition into civilian life of Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) Armed Forces Personnel who are experiencing related mental health and well-being issues.

The Joint Transition Support Service will be evaluated by the North of England Mental Health Development Unit and work with a total of 150 Service leavers and their families who are returning to the North East Region, over a two-year period. The Service leavers will be referred to Finchale by the Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU) and Phoenix House Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC) at Catterick Garrison.

It is hoped that the project will provide a model which can be replicated in other parts of the United Kingdom for Service leavers from the other PRCs and for those re-locating from Catterick Garrison.

An integral part of the Joint Transition Support Service project will be supporting the families of Service leavers. A poor transition can be very challenging to families; particularly if they are already coping with mental health and well-being issues of the Service leaver. Combine this with the challenges of moving, finding new schools and living in a civilian community, often for the first time, and life can get very hectic.

Dr David Etheridge, Principal of Finchale Training College said: “This is a hugely exciting project for us and we are grateful to the Forces in Mind Trust for their generosity which has made it possible for us to support the WIS Service Leavers and their families.”

AVM Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust said: “When leaving the Armed Forces, it can be a significant challenge to adapt to the pressures and demands of everyday life, especially for those who may be suffering with the added pressure of mental health problems or long-term injury. Our Transition Mapping Study, released last year, highlighted that it is important to remember that the challenges of transition are not limited just to the Service Leaver, but are also faced by their family members.

“We are looking forward to seeing the results of this grant to Finchale, which will provide us with the vital evidence-base for mental health requirements and support for families going forward.”

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About Finchale Training College: Located in County Durham, Finchale is a national provider of rehabilitation services for over 400 unemployed disabled adults each year, and was founded in 1943 as a vocational rehabilitation and resettlement centre for injured servicemen returning from active service.

Although the numbers of civilian trainees has gradually expanded, military links have continued to be strong.   The first Superintendent, a post that was later to become Principal, was Col Dean, a disabled ex-prisoner of war. Capt Richard Annand, VC, was the Personnel Officer, from his retirement from the Army in 1948 until 1979.

Today Finchale supports over 200 disabled Veterans each year. Disabilities include physical and health problems, with particular emphasis on mental health needs.  In addition, many will have experienced debt and housing difficulties, drug and alcohol abuse, offending behaviour, lack of civilian skills and qualifications, as well as specific personal barriers.  Over 60% achieve employment.

The College motto, exemplified by the Phoenix, is ‘Triumph Over Adversity’.