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Request for expressions of interest

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has issued a request for expressions of interest (REOI) to conduct research to understand the psychosocial determinants of psychological health and wellbeing for veterans’ families in the UK.

The FiMT award is expected to be in the region of £250,000. Although there is no specific completion date, the Trust would like to see the report completed and published within two years of commencement.

The commission was a result of previous research and consultation with stakeholders which identified a lack of evidence on the emotional and support needs of veterans’ families across the UK.

For more details and how to submit an expression of interest see the full REOI here.

UK MILITARY FAMILIES STRUGGLE TO ACCESS SPECIALIST DOMESTIC ABUSE SUPPORT

Report finds more communication is needed between Domestic Violence and Abuse support sector and the Armed Forces

A report released today by the University of Bristol finds less than 10% of Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) services identify themselves as providing specialist support to military families. The report titled “Domestic Violence and Abuse in Military Families: Improving Signposting to Specialist Support” was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and finds a lack of communication between the civilian and military sectors is hampering efforts to support victims and perpetrators of DVA within military families.

The report recommends civilian DVA services and military welfare services continue efforts to work more closely together to increase awareness and understanding of the support available, and to recognise the complexities victims from UK military families face when seeking help. It finds many DVA services are unclear about the specific issues impacting military families experiencing DVA and why specialist support is needed.

Research findings show Armed Forces families see military based support as problematic, lacking in confidentiality and some still view seeking help as a sign of weakness.  The perceived negative impact on their partner’s career and losing entitlement to Service Family Accommodation were also reported as barriers to help-seeking.

The University of Bristol’s report highlights the need for national level communication to create a joined-up support network which strengthens and better coordinates the services available and provides training for practitioners on the unique challenges faced by military families.

To help facilitate collaboration, a National Conference will be held in Birmingham in March 2020 which will bring together stakeholders from across the military and civilian sectors. Conference partners include Forces in Mind Trust, The Royal British Legion, the MOD, University of Bristol, Birmingham City University, Women’s Aid England and Birmingham City Council.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“As a direct result of this FiMT funded research, 34 DVA services were identified as providing specialist services for UK Armed Forces families and are now included within the government funded support database, Routes to Support. This will ensure that victims of DVA are signposted to specific services that offer the support they need.

It’s clear from the findings that more work needs to be done to ensure victims of domestic violence and abuse in the Armed Forces community are encouraged to seek the help they need. It is incumbent on the Armed Forces welfare service to help allay the fears that victims have in using their services, and create a culture of help-seeking without stigma or fear of reprisal.”

Dr Emma Williamson, the project lead at University of Bristol, said:

“This is an important project because it leaves a legacy through Routes to Support to update information about which specialist DVA services can best support military families experiencing DVA.  It also reiterates previous research, and the recent MoD DV Working Group Strategy (2018), that better communication across sectors can make a real difference in improving practice for families.  The conference in March 2020 is a fantastic opportunity for us to make that a reality by bringing the two sectors together to encourage local and national collaboration.”

An MOD spokesperson said:

“Domestic violence is inexcusable and we expect the highest standards of behaviour from our personnel, whether they are on or off duty. Last year we launched a strategy to help prevent domestic abuse in all its forms, including taking action in many of the areas identified in this report. We also work closely with agencies such as local authorities and the police to ensure those affected have access to the support they need.

The strategy aims to reduce the prevalence and impact of domestic abuse and increase the safety and wellbeing of all those affected. It is focused on increasing awareness of through training, establishing a more robust evidence base, and a review of associated policies.”

Read the full report here

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NOTES TO EDITORS: Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact James Gillies at james@amazonpr.co.uk / 020 7700 6952 or Ana Carvallo-Phillips, Ana@amazonpr.co.uk / 020 7700 6952.

About the research:
The research consisted of a limited literature review and primary data collection. The literature review was guided by identifying what constitutes a specialist DVA provision for military families, identifying and consolidating what differentiates the military context, and defining what is meant by DVA services and interventions for military families. A multi-method approach was used to collect primary data. This included: one focus group with victim/survivors; four face-to-face interviews and eight telephone interviews with practitioners; an online survey for service providers; observation of DVA meetings, five site visits across three case study sites; and email correspondence to reach all the relevant stakeholders.

About the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol:
The aim of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research is to conduct high quality research to inform policy, practice and action on gender-based violence. Its history of researching violence against women and gender-based violence, feeds into policy and practice nationally, internationally and locally.

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.

Useful links
Report: www.fim-trust.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Bristol-Report.pdf
FiMT website: www.fim-trust.org
Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/
Twitter: @FiMTrust

Only two percent of armed forces charities support veterans in the criminal justice system

New report calls for better identification of offenders to help charities direct their services to veterans in need, and their families.

New research published today (5 September 2019) by the Directory of Social Change, shows that just two percent of UK Armed Forces charities deliver support for veterans who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System.

The report titled Focus On: Armed Forces Charities in the Criminal Justice System, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) shows that just 31 of the UK’s 1,888 Armed Forces charities provide criminal justice related support to 3,200 veterans each year. This is significantly fewer than the number of Armed Forces charities providing support in other areas such as physical health where 121 charities provide support, education and employment (78), housing (78), and mental health (76). The evidence from the report also shows that the 3,200 veterans represent those accessing services, rather than those in need, which is a potentially far higher number.

The findings reveal that small cohorts of Armed Forces charities specialise in support at different stages of the Criminal Justice System, for example when veterans are in police custody, during their time in prison, and following their release. Notably, just eight charities help individuals in prison. The most common support that charities provide for those who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System is for education and employment, delivered by just over half of the charities. The research also finds that around a fifth (39%) of Armed Forces charities provide support to family members of veterans who have been in the Criminal Justice System, with the most common being help with finances, debt support, education and employment and mental health.

The Focus On report highlights initiatives such as the Cobseo Veterans and Criminal Justice System Cluster and Project Nova as case studies of cross-sector collaboration which could be more widely adopted and emulated across the sector.

The report calls for greater partnerships between charities that support veterans in the Criminal Justice System and criminal justice support organisations, such as social services and Liaison and Diversion services. It also highlights the need to identify the number of ex-Service personnel in various stages of the Criminal Justice System in order to help charities better direct their services to these individuals and their families.

DSC Researcher and lead author of the report, Anthony Robson says:

‘Armed Forces charities play an important role in supporting veterans and their families who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System. This report not only highlights the services provided to veterans across the different stages of the Criminal Justice System, but importantly calls for the need to better direct this provision of services by enhancing cross-sector collaboration between criminal justice support organisations and Forces charities’.

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive Forces in Mind Trust says:

‘For anyone claiming to hold dear the interests of the Armed Forces community, be they a politician, official, media or charity, the DSC’s Focus On series is a must read.  This report provides the evidence base and hence understanding of the Criminal Justice System, upon which all good policy decisions should be made.’

Chloe Mackay, Co-Chair of the Cobseo (Confederation of service charities) Veterans in the Criminal Justice System Cluster says:

‘Having the support of a charity that knows what they have been through and takes an interest in them can give veterans the strength they need to turn their lives around. I welcome this report, which provides insight into the delivery of support to veterans in the Criminal Justice System.’

Download the free report at www.armedforcescharities.org.uk/criminaljustice

Work with FiMT: Communications Officer

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) is currently recruiting a full time Communications Officer 

Location: Victoria, London

The Communications Officer will contribute to the delivery of FiMT’s mission, and increase FiMT’s impact, by developing and executing the Trust’s influence and communications work with policy makers and service providers.

FiMT was established in 2011 with a £35 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund to spend over a 20-year period. Our vision is for all ex-Service personnel and their families to lead fulfilled civilian lives, and our mission is to enable successful sustainable transition back to civilian life. The Trust awards grants and commissions research to generate a strong evidence base for influencing policy makers and service providers, and has recently increased its focus on influencing and convening thought-leadership activity.

The role of the Communications Officer is critical to the effectiveness of FiMT in achieving its mission. The Trust is seeking to recruit an experienced and flexible Communications Officer with strong traditional and digital communication skills, stakeholder management and Public Affairs expertise.

Full job description here.

To apply, please email a CV (no more than 2 sides of A4) and a Supporting Statement explaining how your skills and experience fit the role, to Rodrigo Voss, om@fim-trust.org

The deadline for applications is: 27 September 2019.
Interviews will be held in London.

FiMT awards contract for website re-design

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded the contract for its website re-design to The Bureau. 

FiMT’s decision to re-design its website reflects its increasing role as a strategic influencer.  Established in 2011 by a £35 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund, FiMT’s mission is to enable successful and sustainable transition by funding evidence generation and influence activities that help to further its mission.  As the Trust increases its influence and reach, it needs a modern website to share the range of evidence, reports and information available to all with an interest in ensuring that ex-Service personnel make a successful transition.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said, “We are delighted to award the contract to The Bureau.  They impressed us with their understanding of FiMT’s work, and their vision for how our website should look and operate.  This is an existing time in FiMT’s development, and our website is a critical tool in ensuring we deliver our mission”.

Simon Fairway, Director, The Bureau, said “We’re thrilled to be supporting FiMT’s important work in enabling ex-Service personnel and their families to successfully transition into civilian lives.  The project neatly draws on our existing experience with funders and frontline organisations working on evidence-based service improvements, particularly around the wellbeing and mental health of veterans”.

Researchers say benefits sanctions should not be imposed on veterans

A new study has revealed that ex-Service personnel with physical and mental health problems are struggling to navigate a “baffling” benefits system and should not incur sanctions.

The research, led by the University of Salford and supported by the University of York, involved 120 interviews with ex-Service personnel and found the need for greater understanding of veterans’ complex needs and suggests that sanctions are not the answer.

Participants in the study were found to have insecure employment, with several struggling with debts and rent arrears, and some resorting to foodbanks or “going through the bins”. Others live with embarrassment, shame and resentment at a system they call unfair and bewildering.

Universal Credit (UC) appeared to have introduced a further layer of complexity and received damning criticism from respondents leaving the Armed Forces and their families.

The report, funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), titled Sanctions, support and Service leavers: Social security benefits and transitions from military to civilian life, launched today, 18th June, at an event in the House of Lords.

This is the first major study investigating the experiences of ex-Service personnel navigating the benefits system. The research makes 12 recommendations, which include the need for:

  • the system to ensure that benefit sanctions are not applied to those Veterans experiencing mental and physical health impairments resulting from Service in the Armed Forces.
  • an urgent review of the assessment process applied to those claiming working-age incapacity benefits, to ensure assessors are qualified to assess the health needs of people leaving the Armed Forces.
  • for the DWP to ensure that Armed Forces background is consistently recorded by Work Coaches to ensure appropriate tracking of the needs of individual veterans and their progress through the system.
  • Each Jobcentre to have one designated individual who takes a lead in supporting the ex-Service community.
  • Guidance on the UK social security system to be included as part of the transitional support for those leaving the Armed Forces.

More profoundly negative impacts on individuals and their families came from the threat of benefit sanctions for non-compliance with conditions imposed by the Jobcentre Plus. Some, rather than being supported by the State were reliant on military charities, and third-party organisations like housing associations.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The evidence from this study clearly shows the need for identification and understanding of the complex needs of the minority ex-Service community who are in need of welfare support.

“The majority of ex-Service personnel make a successful transition back to civilian life; for the few who encounter difficulty, we need to ensure that consistent signposting to relevant support services is achieved and the benefits system is easier to navigate.”

Professor Lisa Scullion, Associate Director of the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford, who is leading the project, said: “Allowances are made to veterans who claim benefits as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, but until now very little has been known about their experiences within the benefits system. We found people who desperately did not want to claim benefits and only did so as a last resort, but who found the system baffling and had been given little preparation for dealing with it.

“It was evident that some of our participants struggled with adjusting to the precarious labour market that we have today. But also, to then have to confront some of the conditions attached to benefit receipt is a shock for people.” “Yes, there is significant good practice within the DWP and notably among their Armed Forces Champions, but the variation across geographical areas and even within Jobcentres is worrying.”

Read the full report here.

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Research funded to understand why ex-Service personnel commit serious violent offences

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded the Probation Institute a grant of £80,404 for an 18-month project to research the factors influencing the behaviour of ex-Service personnel who commit serious violent offences and how such offences could be prevented in the future.

Researchers will develop case studies from approximately 12 interviews with ex-Service personnel who have committed serious offences of violence, their case workers and their families with the view of designing a learning source for practitioners working with serious offenders.

There are a number of evidence gaps the research will address which include: identifying the factors leading to the crime; gaining a better understanding of the factors influencing the individual’s choices and patterns of behaviour; and assessing the transition experience and years following.

The experiences of the families will be included to provide an holistic understanding of the needs, risks and protective factors and how families might be more effectively engaged to prevent serious offences occurring.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Our aim is to enable all ex-Service personnel and their families to have a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life. We do this through generating robust evidence to influence policy makers and service providers in the decisions they make about the community we represent.

“The Probation Institute has highlighted an evidence gap in relation to why ex-Service personnel have a higher conviction of serious violent offences to a person than the wider public. This latest research aims to identify factors that influence the individual and what preventative measures could be put in place to reduce the likelihood of this trend continuing.”

Helen Schofield, Acting Chief Executive, Probation Institute, said: “The Probation Institute is very pleased to be working again with the Forces In Mind Trust to support ex-Service personnel and in particular those who find themselves in personal difficulties which impact on the well-being of others.”

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On-line mentoring platform for ex-Service personnel struggling with social isolation to be trialled

TimeBank, a national volunteering charity, has been awarded funds of £143,281 by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), to develop, pilot and evaluate an on-line mentoring platform for ex-Service personnel who have been affected by mental health and wellbeing problems in Scotland.

The 18-month project will be divided into two stages. The first six months will be a revision and refinement of training materials and a pilot of the online platform. In the second stage, 30 beneficiaries will be matched with an on-line volunteer mentor, with an average of six months’ support provided.

Mentoring will take place through an on-line video platform developed by Odro, a leader in video-based technology, which allows beneficiaries to have conversations with their mentors in real time as well as being able to exchange files and messages.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “FiMT previously funded TimeBank to deliver a face-to-face mentoring project in Glasgow and Edinburgh between 2014 and 2016, which resulted in the ‘Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine’ report. The report included a recommendation to make the mentoring service more widely available across Scotland, and this innovative application of modern communication technology is the result. The funding awarded today reflects that recommendation, and also the success of the mentoring scheme for ex-Service personnel in those two cities in Scotland.

“We look forward to the development of the on-line mentoring platform and the subsequent evaluation. The results of this 18-month project will influence how support can be better provided to ex-Service personnel and their family members dealing with mental health problems.”

Phil Pyatt, Chief Executive, TimeBank, said: “We are delighted to be working with FiMT once more to support Scottish veterans and their families, many of whom have complex problems including mental health issues. We will also be able to continue to show, through our partnership with leading veterans’ charity Erskine, that volunteer mentoring is a powerful tool to alleviate their stress and isolation and help them transition to sustainable, healthy and productive civilian lives. We are very excited to be able to reach out to many more veterans through this new online volunteering model.”

Research Consultancy, The Lines Between, will test the viability of the technology, and assess the impact online mentoring has made to the ex-Service personnel and their families struggling to maintain a successful transition to civilian life.

This new project draws on TimeBank’s extensive experience of delivering volunteer mentoring projects that support vulnerable people through difficult transitions in their lives.

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Pioneering E-Learning Programme Rolled Out To Help Probation Staff Identify Ex-Service Personnel Under Supervision

Programme launches to help ex-Service personnel under supervision from reoffending by improving their identification and support pathways

The Probation Institute and Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), today launch ‘Working with Ex-Armed Services Personnel Under Supervision’, an e-learning programme that enables Probation Staff to better identify and support ex-Service personnel under supervision. The e-learning course and the teaching materials are available to all probation prison services and third sector organisations across England and Wales.

Previously, Probation Staff had no specialist training to enable them to identify ex-Service personnel, making them unable to gain access to tailored services, and therefore more likely to reoffend.

The Anglia Ruskin University National Audit of support for ex-Service personnel in the Criminal Justice System found that 4-5% of the prison population is currently made up of ex-Service personnel. Those who have served in the Armed Forces are more likely to be in prison for the first time – 54% compared with 34% of the general population. However, less than half of ex-Service personnel under supervision are registered on probation case records as having served.

The Probation Institute’s e-learning programme tackles this by recommending that all service users are asked by Probation Staff if they have served in the Armed Forces and by highlighting to them how best to support the rehabilitation of this group.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The most effective way to identify someone who has served in the Armed Forces is to ask them directly. The Phillips report2 from 2014 states that ex-Service personnel in the prison system are a vulnerable group. And their Service history, which could have some bearing on their offending behaviour, is currently being overlooked by Probation Officers.

“Leaving the Armed Forces is successful for the majority; but for a small group, extra support is needed to navigate the transition pathway. Whether it be due to things they have encountered through time in service, or through the loss of the protective factors of Armed Forces life, a minority find themselves under probation supervision. We must ensure that this particularly vulnerable cohort are identified as having served and are signposted to the appropriate support services.”

Inga Markelyte, Learning and Development Consultant Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company said: “Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company has made use of the excellent e-learning resource available via the Probation Institute on working with ex-armed services personnel. This is a subject that expert knowledge and support is often required, and therefore having a refresher on what works best when working with veterans and also having a concise resources list detailing services available to veterans is extremely useful. The fact that the course is free of charge and is available to everyone (whether employed by Probation or not) is fantastic.

“The feedback we have had from practitioners was that the course was easy to follow; helpful to the practitioner role; the videos were really good; the resources list was particularly useful; clear information provided with well-worded questions; the subject was broken down into nice, easily digestible parts; the quality of the videos was impressive and the information contained was up to date and relevant to probation services; this was a good refresher about working with veterans.”

Helen Schofield, Chief Executive, Probation Institute, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this learning resource and grateful to FiMT who funded both the initial research on which the learning is based and the e-learning product. We are also grateful to the National Probation Service, Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC, Sodexo, PACT, Ostling Training, Project Nova and Tom Harrison House in Merseyside, for the staff and services users both in the steering group and featuring in the e-learning programme.”

Glyn Owen, ex-Service person, said: “In my opinion the e-learning tool provides vital insight into the benefits of, firstly identifying veterans in the criminal justice system, and then hooking them up with support networks aimed specifically at ex-military personnel. I believe if veterans are signposted to the assistance available this would not only improve the quality of their lives and their family’s lives, but also considerably reduce the risk of re-offending.”

FiMT provided funds of £41,500 to enable the development of the e-learning programme.

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