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 £355,262 to Ulster University – working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Veterans Support Committee – for a three year project in Northern Ireland. The purpose of the project is to generate a comprehensive understanding of support available to the Northern Ireland veterans’ community (comprising ex-Service personnel and their families) that will be used by policy makers and service deliverers across the sector.

Dr Cherie Armour from the School of Psychology on the Coleraine campus of Ulster University will lead on the research project, which will deliver reports with recommendations throughout the three-year period concentrating on how existing support can be utilised further, in particular increasing broad awareness of support and developing better on-line access to information, advice, and guidance across the region.

A number of existing and newly appointed academics from Ulster University will work in very close partnership with the Northern Ireland Veterans Support Committee (NIVSC) throughout the project. The NIVSC – which is facilitated by the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association NI – was created in direct response to an array of complex and unique socio-political factors that have impacted on the veteran community; a lack of clarity of their number and needs, and the corollary recognition that those concerned with veterans’ welfare need to adopt, as much as possible, a fully co-ordinated and coherent approach to supporting veterans. The NIVSC is comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces charity sector.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust said: “We are delighted to be funding this timely and important project in Northern Ireland.  I know that the results of the work by Ulster University working in close partnership with NIVSC, will provide an important evidence base for policy makers and service deliverers alike.’’

Dr Cherie Armour from Ulster University stated: “Myself and the NIVSC are delighted to lead on this important project which will review existing supports available to the veteran community in Northern Ireland. We aim to increase the wider awareness and accessibility of supports available to the veteran community, and when needed, we will make recommendations on how existing supports can be improved. We look forward to working with veteran organisations and the veteran community across Northern Ireland.”

UK-wide awareness of the needs of the ex-Service community has been raised in recent times and is now articulated in the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.  There is a lot of practical support available to veterans and their families but direct access is often obscured by lack of detailed information or conversely shrouded by information overload.  NIVSC was set up to develop better coordination of response to demand, to ensure that anyone in need could be assisted by those best placed to deliver support services.

The NIVSC co-Chairmen have welcomed the award:  “We know that there is still a lack of knowledge about the numbers of veterans, that assumptions are made about their current and future needs, and we accept that coordination is the key to address these.  This academic research project by Ulster University funded by Forces in Mind Trust should provide exactly the evidence we need to plan for the future.”

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Notes to Editors
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About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

  • FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery 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. Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans.
  • The aim of the FiMT is to provide an evidence base which will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.
  • FiMT award’s grants (both reactive and proactive) and commission’s research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration. All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made. Read more about those FiMT have helped and reports they have published at the links below: