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Statement from Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust:

“At Forces in Mind Trust, we agree from an evidence-based perspective with the Royal British Legion’s call for more to be done to counter the financial difficulty some Commonwealth ex-Service personnel encounter upon leaving the UK’s Armed Forces.

“Evidence from our Meeting the Needs of Commonwealth Personnel and Families report, undertaken by Anglia Ruskin University and published in March last year, highlights the difficulties Commonwealth Service personnel may encounter on the transition pathway. This work was commissioned at the behest of the Confederation of Service Charities’ ‘Foreign and Commonwealth’ cluster, which is chaired by the Army Families Federation, in recognition of their significant experience in this area.

“Our report makes 13 recommendations for improving the services and support available to serving and ex-Service personnel and their families. These recommendations include the need to address the high cost of visas, to reduce the complexities of the settlement process, and to provide better support and information to ex-Service personnel going through the visa application process

“In line with the UK Armed Forces Covenant, those who have served ‘should be treated fairly’. Our evidence suggests that whilst visa fees are not, in themselves, unfair, the scale of the fees and the inadequate preparations (including individual saving) undertaken by some Commonwealth personnel does present disadvantage and should be addressed by the Home Office and Ministry of Defence.

“FiMT’s founding objective was to enable all ex-Service personnel to have a successful and sustainable transition. We will continue to pursue this aim using the robust evidence we generate to influence policy makers and service providers.”

Creation of mental health toolkit aimed at ex-Service personnel

A mental health toolkit, MIND Fitness, specifically designed for ex-Service personnel, is to be developed thanks to funding from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

MIND Fitness will help overcome the barriers Service leavers have in seeking mental health support, enabling them to identify whether they are suffering from a mental health issue (particularly depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder), to empower them to monitor their own mental health, to recognise whether support might be helpful before they reach a crisis point, and to educate them on the wealth of support available.

King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) has been awarded £221,811 over two years to develop the toolkit.

The project builds on the recommendations of the earlier FiMT-funded KCMHR Stigma and Barriers to Care project, with the team now planning to design a practical tool to aid ex-Service personnel in identifying and managing their own mental health as a prevention strategy. It is hoped that this tool will be adopted by a range of other charities, service providers and the NHS, and ultimately have a positive impact on post-Service transition to civilian life.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Previous FiMT research has identified a variety of barriers to help seeking in the ex-Service community. Evidence shows the decision to ask for help is mainly affected by the perceived need for treatment. The toolkit being developed by King’s Centre for Military Health Research will encourage the user to independently identify their need for support and importantly where they can access it.

“We know that ex-Service personnel access services that are tailored to their needs, and where there is an understanding of the culture of the Armed Forces. This is a very important development in the management of mental health in the ex-Service community, which is vital to enabling a successful and sustainable transition.”

Dr Laura Rafferty, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, said: “We are excited to start this project which aims to develop a toolkit to target early identification and management of mental health distress in military veterans. The toolkit will provide a level of self-help to enable veterans to cope independently and provide simple information about where to seek more formal support, to both improve their quality of life and encourage veterans to seek support before they reach a crisis point.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with military veterans and stakeholders to ensure that the toolkit will fit the needs of military veterans and compliment the other services currently available to military veterans in the UK.

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Exploring the employment pathways and outcomes of ex-Service personnel

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded funds of £183, 930 to the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) to undertake a two-year study to examine employment and finances across the transition process as personnel leave the Armed Forces and transition to civilian life, with a particular focus on the role mental health.

Researchers will provide a comprehensive picture of the economic aspects of transition, including how mental health, as well as pre-enlistment factors and Service history, affect economic trajectories and the experiences of potentially at-risk groups.

The study will expand current research by tracking both positive and negative changes in socio-economic status, including a focus on certain groups who historically have demonstrated less successful outcomes (ie women, Early Service Leaver, and Reserves), to gain a holistic understanding of the pathways of economic transition and how these relate to mental health and wellbeing. This work involves assessment of several large datasets and will be supported by a series of interviews.

Findings from the project will inform statutory, military and charitable bodies on how to best ensure all ex-Service personnel gain rewarding employment and can avoid the pitfalls that lead to a poor economic transition.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Two of the most important elements of a successful and sustainable transition are meaningful employment and mental health. Previous research funded by FiMT has shown that there is a correlation between both. This study by KCMHR will enable policy makers and service providers to ensure that all ex-Service personnel are informed and prepared to navigate the transition process successfully.”

Dr Howard Burdett, Kings Centre for Military Health Research, said: “This study will build on the work of King’s Centre for Military Health Research on post-service outcomes for UK veterans by producing an in-depth investigation into why some veterans are successful after leaving, while others are not.”

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Peer support for Families of ex-Service personnel with Substance Use Problems

A model of peer support is being developed for families of ex-Service personnel with substance use problems thanks to funding of £108,713 by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

Researchers undertaking the 15-month project, at the University of York, seek to better understand the experiences and needs of the families of veterans who have substance use problems (FVSUs) through a thorough review of existing literature, and conducting interviews, focus groups and online surveys, ultimately working with the charity Adfam in the design of a new, bespoke model of peer support.

These activities will involve ex-Service personnel with substance use problems, the families of veterans with substance use problems, and service providers, to ensure a full range of experiences, needs and context is gathered.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Evidence shows that peer support is a successful support mechanism for individuals and groups coping with difficult circumstances. The range of methods and the scope of this study will ensure that a peer support model is specifically designed for this particular cohort.”

Charlie Lloyd, University of York, said: “There is a lot of evidence showing that families can be greatly affected by a loved one’s substance use and we also know that a relatively high proportion of veterans have problems with substance use. However, we know very little about the particular problems experienced by FVSUs. Our research will explore the experiences and needs of FVSUs and work with Adfam, family members and charities in the field to develop a peer support model designed to meet these needs.”

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FiMT funds year-long study to better understand employment outcomes for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER), in partnership with QinetiQ and RFEA, £111,352 to conduct a year-long study to better understand the employment outcomes for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs).

Mixed-methods of research will be used, which will include: analysis of the latest employment statistics, surveys and interviews with veteran SNCOs and interviews with SNCOs’ spouses and partners.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We have identified in our previous work that some Senior Non-Commissioned Officers may face a more difficult transition into civilian lives, in part due to employment pathways when they leave service.

“By researching the current situation, we can determine what is needed to create lasting positive change. We will then re-shape the environment by influencing policies to enable this group to have a successful post-service career.”

Clare Lyonette from IER added: “We are excited to find out more about the employment challenges for this particular group of veterans and to identify how their skills and experience can be successfully transferred to a civilian environment.  Our research aims to provide lasting benefits, not only for the veteran SNCOs, but also for their families.”

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New report from Forces in Mind Trust calls for increased awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant

Less than a quarter (24%) of British organisations have heard of the Armed Forces Covenant and only 8% have signed it, according to report

A new report titled ‘Benefit not Burden’ commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and conducted by Shared Intelligence, calls for increased awareness around the benefits to businesses, public and voluntary sector organisations in the UK in signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant and being a veteran friendly employer.

Less than a quarter (24%) of the organisations surveyed in FiMT’s research had heard of the Armed Forces Covenant and only 8% had signed it. The report finds that the smaller an organisation is, the less likely it is to be aware of the Covenant or to have signed it or taken any action.

This lack of awareness, coupled with the lack of understanding around the potential disadvantage facing members of the Armed Forces Community and knowing what type of action an organisation can take, is a significant barrier to organisations signing and enacting the Armed Forces Covenant.

The report launched today, Tuesday 22nd January, at an event in the House of Commons, to an audience of MPs, Ministry of Defence representatives, and public sector and business leaders. It outlines straightforward steps to encourage more organisations across the UK to sign the Covenant, including supporting trade associations and membership bodies to promote the Covenant; they have a key role in encouraging organisations to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and highlighting its benefits.

Most organisations surveyed in the report that are aware of the Covenant had heard about it from a customer or client (23%), an individual within the organisation (22%) or another organisation within a supply chain (17%). Just 3% of organisations cite trade associations as the reason they are aware of the Covenant, and only 10% cite the Ministry of Defence.

Other recommendations in the report include mobilising the voice of the Armed Forces Community to encourage the organisations they work with to sign the Covenant, and encouraging local authorities, other public bodies and large businesses to use their supply chains and procurement processes to encourage businesses and other organisations to sign.

FiMT’s report provides evidence that organisations which have signed the Armed Forces Covenant are more likely to see direct benefits of employing ex-Service personnel, including recruiting or retaining skilled staff and enhancing a company’s reputation. 28% of organisations surveyed in the research claimed that they are likely to sign the Covenant over the next year.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Ex-Service personnel offer a substantial premium of capability to a prospective employer, and a commercial supplier can reap the rewards of customer loyalty and brand reputation by offering the Armed Forces Community advantageous access to goods and services, while ensuring their unique background in the military does not create disadvantage.

“The research in this report shows that there are many organisations who wish to support the Armed Forces Community, but who lack the knowledge and understanding of how to do so. It has identified some straightforward steps that could be taken relatively easily, and which would result in a substantial improvement in how the nation fulfils its side of the Covenant.”

Phil Swann, Executive Chair of Shared Intelligence, said: “Our research identified several ways of increasing awareness of the Covenant, including the role of trade bodies, supply chain relationships and mobilising the voice of the Armed Forces Community itself. The best ambassadors for the Covenant are businesses which have benefitted from delivering it.”

You can see a copy of the Executive Summary and full report here.

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Armed Forces Charities Sector leadership programme awards 27 places for emerging leaders

Clore Social Leadership, together with the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), and Cobseo are delighted to announce details of over 20 successful emerging leaders who will participate in the second Cobseo Emerging Leader Programme designed for the Armed Forces charities sector and core funded by FiMT.

The Cobseo Emerging Leader Programme is a 6-month leadership development journey aimed at emerging leaders working in the Armed Forces charities sector. Designed in partnership with Cobseo and FiMT, the programme will seek to build agile, resilient and effective leadership while consolidating solidarity, collaboration and joint action within the sector.

The 2019 cohort consists of 20+ leaders working in a variety of Armed Forces charities sector organisations, including larger charities such as SSAFA, Poppyscotland, The Royal British Legion and Seafarers UK, as well as smaller ones, for example Bravehound and East Sussex Veterans’ Hub.

Commenting on the 2019 intake, Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust and a Cobseo Executive Committee member said:

“We are delighted to be funding this second bespoke Cobseo version of Clore’s prestigious Emerging Leader Programme, particularly in light of the achievements of participants on the inaugural programme last year.

Some of FiMT’s aims are to encourage collaboration and enhance leadership, thus strengthening the Armed Forces charities sector. The Clore programme is a perfect example of this in action. This programme delivers a measurable impact on the broader sector and the benefit to the participants will also enable them to empower their colleagues. All of the Cobseo Executive Committee and FiMT wish the 2019 participants well with the programme, and we’re looking forward to engaging with our future senior leaders.”

Participants will have the opportunity to develop their social leadership abilities and utilise their applied learnings in team challenges to immediately transfer the skills they gain from the programme back into their organisations.

Commenting on the impact of the previous programme, Rob Thorburn, Grants Officer at the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“The programme is a holistic leadership experience and you benefit from the support of experts and peers. It will give you and your organisation the best possible preparation in order to confidently lead and succeed in your working life.”

As it builds on all aspects of Clore Social’s Social Leaders’ Capabilities Framework, the programme will help leaders become more empowered, focused, and generous, so that they can effectively transform the Armed Forces charities sector to meet current and future challenges, and lead social change.

The 2019 Cobseo Emerging Leader participants are:

  • Alan Owen, The British Nuclear Test Veterans Association
  • Allie Hack, Jon Egging Trust
  • Antoine Sahyoun, Victory Services Club
  • Dawn Ingram, The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity
  • Elisabeth Winkler Lawrence Bravehound
  • Iain Boyle, East Sussex Veterans’ Hub
  • James Grant, SSAFA
  • Jenna McCormick, Poppyscotland
  • Jenny Minhinnick, The Royal Star & Garter Homes
  • Katherine Lawrence, The SCiP Alliance
  • Kevin Hartley, Veterans information CIC
  • Laura Pett, The Royal British Legion
  • Michelle Alston, Army Families Federation
  • Natalie Urbaniak, SUPPORT OUR PARAS
  • Prema Nirgude, Royal Air Forces Association
  • Sandra Parton, Hounds for Heroes
  • Sarah Clewes, Royal Naval Association
  • Sarah Fernandes, Hounds for Heroes
  • Sarah Harold, SSAFA, The Armed Forces Charity
  • Serena Cecchinato, Give Us Time
  • Stephen Oatley, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
  • Tina Barnes, Seafarers UK
  • Tommy Lowther, Sportingforce

For more information about the programme and the announcement, please follow this link: https://www.cloresocialleadership.org.uk/news-insights/meet-our-2019-cobseo-emerging-leader-cohort

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Statement in response to veterans housing consultation

Responding to today’s announcement by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, that veterans with mental health problems may be prioritised for social housing, Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“Well over 1,000 men and women leaving the Armed Forces need urgent support to find accommodation every year. Our research has shown that the advice given to veterans can be patchy. We welcome these proposals, which will undoubtedly make a significant difference to those in most need. But we urge ministers to also ensure veterans feature in local authority housing strategies and appropriate advice is given to anyone applying for housing advice who is identified as a veteran. That is the single most important step towards ending homelessness among those who have served our country.”

New Data Dispels ‘Negative stereotypes’ About Veterans

A MAJOR new study released today by the Veterans Work Consortium, reveals that military service is likely to improve your chances of finding employment.

The study found that, contrary to what many believe, veteran employment rates at 81% are far higher than the national average of 75.5%.

The report, titled ‘Veterans Work: Moving On’, surveyed 1,786 UK veterans who had transitioned out of the military in the past 10 years.

Veterans Work, made-up of leading professional services firm Deloitte, the Armed Forces charity the Officers’ Association and The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), is a consortium of organisations whose collective aim is to improve our understanding of veteran employment.

The Consortium’s research found that 62% of veterans identifying as having a mental health disability are in employment. Whereas employment rates for those identifying as having a mental health disability across the working age population of the UK, are much lower at just 25%.

These statistics reveal a startling disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to the mental state of veterans and their chances of employment as they re-enter the workplace, as uncovered by a separate poll of 2849 civilians, conducted in June of this year. The YouGov poll commissioned by FiMT, found that an alarming 64% of civilians think that veterans are more likely to suffer from more mental, physical and emotional issues than those who have never served.

The YouGov report also found that 39% of employers believe veterans are more likely to be institutionalised. Additionally, 30% thought that serving in the Armed Forces ‘damages people’.

Chris Recchia, Partner at Deloitte and Chair of the Veterans Work Consortium said: “Persistent negative stereotypes do unfortunately affect wider societal perception of the veteran community. While it is absolutely true that some veterans have suffered and continue to suffer, this does not reflect the experiences of the majority.

He continued: “In short, this data dispels those negative stereotypes. Our study found veterans are highly employable due to the hard work, determination, flexibility in where they work and critically, a willingness to try a whole new career.”

Lee Holloway, Chief Executive of the Officers’ Association said: “There is a clear gulf between how the public perceive veterans and the reality. Veterans are more likely to be employed for instance, regardless of disability or mental health.

He continued: “It is possible that this disconnect is in part being driven, unintentionally, by some of the messaging. High profile media campaigns drawing attention to real  issues facing sections of the Armed Forces community, whilst well-meaning, can at times serve to perpetuate stereotypes that do not reflect the majority.

Holloway continued: “The outlook for Service leavers is very promising.  These research findings will help employers become better placed to recruit, retain and benefit from employing veterans.”

However, while employment rates for veterans are higher than the national average, Veterans Work: Moving On found that more than a quarter (26%) of veterans living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said they had found the process of finding the employment ‘very difficult’.

It was a different story for veterans who had chosen to reside in the Capital however, with less than 1 in 10 (9%) in London describing the experience as ‘very difficult’.

Half (50%) of those veterans who live in London, describe their experience of finding the right job as ‘easy’. Despite the relative ease of finding jobs in the capital, just 8% of veterans are now living in London.

Troublingly, 27% of female respondents described the process of finding employment as ‘very difficult’; for men, the figure was just 17%.

And nearly a third (29%) of female veterans said their salary expectations were not met, while only 24% of male veterans said the same.

The most popular place for veterans to live is in the South West, with nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents living there. This reflects the fact that the region is home to some of the most populated military bases.

Speaking as the report was unveiled, Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE and Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The transition out of military service into civilian life is most successful when all the elements, such as housing and employment, are tackled early, and holistically.  It’s important that these challenges are, though, represented in a balanced and proportionate way. Understanding the needs of the minority who do struggle, should be set alongside the successful outcomes for the majority.  There is plenty of evidence to show that the public and employers hold inaccurate perceptions of the ex-Service community.  The efforts of the Veterans Work consortium should help redress the balance.”

You can read the report here.

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