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Pilot study will improve employment prospects for ex-Service personnel with physical and mental health conditions

Ex-Service personnel who are being assisted with physical and mental health issues will also be offered intensive employment support in a pioneering pilot by The Poppy Factory, funded by The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

Delivered in partnership with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the three-year study in The Wirral will bring the employability charity’s long-established expertise supporting ex-Service personnel with health conditions into an NHS healthcare setting for the first time.

A highly experienced employability consultant from The Poppy Factory will be embedded in the NHS multidisciplinary team to deliver comprehensive employment support to ex-Forces men and women who are wounded, sick or injured.

The package, based on the principles of Individual Placement Support (IPS), takes each individual’s physical health and mental health needs into account, with the aim of securing meaningful long-term employment.

It is intended that the study, which will be evaluated by the University of Nottingham, will reveal any gaps in knowledge and research, help improve existing services and forge closer links between health providers and the Armed Forces charity sector.

The £289,843 pilot will take place at the Stein Centre in St Catherine’s Hospital in Birkenhead, Wirral, an area with one of the highest concentrations of ex-Service personnel in the country. It will see The Poppy Factory work closely with health and social care partners in the local area.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Knowledge and evidence should form the basis of any policy. FiMT’s latest published research, by the Directory of Social Change, highlighted how the Armed Forces Charity sector is shrinking, underlining the need to encourage collaboration with statutory service providers.

“This unique study by The Poppy Factory has the opportunity to change how employment and health services are delivered to this small but vulnerable group of ex-Service personnel.”

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “We are very grateful to The Forces in Mind Trust for supporting and funding this important pilot project, which brings the expertise we have developed in communities around the UK into a clinical healthcare setting for the first time.

“The study will enable us to help many more veterans with physical and mental health conditions fulfil their potential outside the Forces by moving back into meaningful and sustained employment.”

Dr Anushta Sivananthan, Consultant Psychiatrist and CWP Medical Director, said: “We’re delighted to be working with The Poppy Factory to meaningfully meet the needs of ex-Service men and women in a person-centred way. Meaningful employment can be vital to people’s social inclusion and this pioneering pilot will help shape the way our veterans can fulfil their potential.”


‘Unforgotten Forces’ win 2019 Working Together Award

At an emotional awards ceremony on Friday, at London’s Westminster Bridge Park Plaza, individuals and organisations were recognized for their continued commitment to the Armed Forces Community.

Forces in Mind Trust sponsors the Working Together Award at the annual event, in acknowledgement of the excellent work organisations achieve through collaboration.

This year’s winner, “Unforgotten Forces” is a consortium of 16 organisations, who have come together to deliver a range of new services and enhancements in areas including advice, access to healthcare, social isolation and respite.

The Soldier On Awards acknowledge and celebrate the dedication to the Armed Forces Community across a variety of individuals and sectors, including businesses and charities as well as many ex-Service personnel and their families.

Carol Vorderman, a passionate supporter of the Armed Forces, and ex-Serviceman JJ Chalmers, hosted the evening, with mezzo-soprano Carly Paoli performing classics such as Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We are delighted to see Unforgotten Forces win this year’s FiMT Working Together Award. We applaud the efforts of all three finalists for this award, they have achieved great things for the Armed Forces Community.

“It’s a shame there can only be one winner, but all finalists reflect the commitment to achieving through collaborative working. We continue to champion working together and hope others will be inspired to achieve together.”

Mark Bibbey, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, said: “In just over a year there have been more than 6,000 instances of support for older veterans living in Scotland provided through the Unforgotten Forces consortium. Each of the 16 organisations involved offer enhanced services for older veterans, but it is perhaps the seamless referral pathways that now exist between the Unforgotten Forces members that provides the greatest benefit. An older veteran reaching out to one organisation means they are, in effect, reaching out to us all.

“Poppyscotland is very proud to lead this ground-breaking collaboration. Collecting the FiMT Working Together Award at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards represents a ringing endorsement of the approach we have taken and inspires us all to continue building on this remarkable early success.”


Request for expressions of interest

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has issued a request for expressions of interest (REOI) for the development of its new website.

As a key enabler of our mission, we are procuring a modern, multi-device compatible website with outstanding access to the existing body of resources, including published reports, other news and information, and the grant application process. Above all, we want a high quality website that demonstrates the impact of FiMT’s work and showcases our independence and credibility.

The award is expected to be up to £50,000 (including VAT where chargeable), but is subject to negotiation.

For more details of the application process see the full REOI here.

Recruitment of a Trustee with experience of Trusts or Foundations delivering strategic programmes

If you want to make a difference to the civilian lives of former serving members of the Armed Forces Community, this is a great opportunity to bring your skills, knowledge and expertise to help us deliver our mission. We are on the cusp of something remarkable, and we want now to recruit a Trustee to our Board who can bring vision and experience of strategic and systematic change programmes within the model of Trust and Foundation funding.

Forces in Mind Trust was founded by a £35 million endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund. The Trust works within the military charities sector, and much more widely, to support the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces Community. After 7 years’ operation, the Trust is looking to make a far greater impact with its grant funding, ensuring we deliver substantial benefit to the Armed Forces Community.

This is an exciting and transformational time for the Trust, and we hope you will consider bringing your talents to join us on our journey.

The person
We are recruiting a Trustee with experience in Trusts and Foundations delivering strategic programmes. Experience in one or a combination of the following areas would be welcomed:

• Programmes achieving systematic change
• Commissioning
• Impact and evaluation

All Trustees are expected to have empathy with the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces Community, but direct military experience is not required.

The Trust operates across the United Kingdom, and applications from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are particularly welcome. The Trust is committed to the achievement of greater diversity in its board, and welcomes applications regardless of sex, gender, race, age, sexuality, belief or disability.

Further information
As a Trustee you will:
• Receive induction training and travel expenses
• Have significant opportunities to make strategic decisions
• Influence the shape of innovative projects

The expected time commitment is four Board meetings per year (usually held in London, on Tuesdays between 10 am and 1 pm), an annual full day’s strategy review, and quarterly 3-hour sub-Committee meetings. These all take place during normal working hours.

For the full job spec click here.

How to apply
Expressions of interest comprising a cover letter and CV totalling not more than 4 sides should be sent to by Friday 10 May 2019. All applications will be acknowledged, and those with whom the Trust wishes to take forward discussions will be personally informed before the end of May.

The closing date for applications is Friday 10 May 2019.

New research shows Armed Forces Charities sector is shrinking

From January 2018 to July 2018, the sector contracted by 4.5%.

New research published today, Thursday 21st March, by the Directory of Social Change (DSC) and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), shows the Armed Forces charity sector is shrinking, with Scottish charities and local association branches most affected.

There are currently 1,888 Armed Forces charities in the UK. This is a relatively small number compared to other charity subsectors, such as health, which is estimated to include 6,500 charities, and education, 7,650 charities1.

Since 2012, 65 Armed Forces charities have closed, with Scottish charities closing at double the rate of those opening. While there are still 633 membership association branches in the UK, which offer social and comradeship activities, there are now 152 fewer branches than in 2012.

 DSC found a high turnover of Armed Forces welfare charities opening and closing over the past six years, with close to a third of these charities having an operational lifespan of less than ten years. In total, welfare charities account for approximately two-thirds of all sector income.

Total sector income grew year on year from £741 million in 2012 to £1 billion in 2015, before dipping slightly in 2016. Overall, the 45 financially largest charities generate almost three-quarters (74.1%) of all sector income.

The report highlights the need for further research to assess:

  • The extent to which mainstream charities support the Armed Forces Community
  • If the Community prefers to access help from sector specific charities
  • The level of provision that is available at regional level

Commenting on the launch of the report today, DSC Senior Researcher and lead author, Rhiannon Doherty said: “This report holds a mirror to the armed forces charity sector and highlights significant sector trends from 2012 to 2018. It contributes to DSC’s growing evidence base which seeks to accurately profile the ever-changing armed forces charity landscape.”

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust said: “This latest report in the Focus On series is a must read for those making decisions about resources, how they can be generated and where they are best deployed, as well as for those who commentate responsibly about the sector. There is a common myth that there are too many Armed Forces charities; evidence from this report shows this is untrue.

“The recently published UK Government’s ‘Strategy for our Veterans’ draws on previous DSC work, and rightly so. This latest report is both authoritative and illuminating: rare, but invaluable, qualities.”

You can access the report here:


Understanding the transition pathway for ex-Service personnel discharged due to physical injury

FiMT has awarded £149,625 to the University of Central Lancashire, in partnership with the University of Salford, to undertake a two-year research project to understand the transition to civilian life for ex-Service personnel with physical conditions as a direct result of Service.

The research will identify the support and provisions that are available during transition for ex-Service personnel with service-related physical conditions, or physical conditions acquired whilst serving, and offer suggestions on what further, or better, support could be offered.

Project research will comprise an extensive review of relevant literature and existing data, consultation with policy and practice stakeholders, and a qualitative study with a cohort of medically discharged Service personnel.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “There is a lack of robust evidence surrounding the transition of ex-Service personnel discharged due to physical injury acquired during service.

“We have commissioned the study to ensure that the needs of this particular cohort, and of their families, are met and that we ensure their future successful and sustainable transitions. By commissioning the work in response to our analysis of where knowledge and evidence are lacking, we are putting into practice the more proactive approach our ‘Third Age’ initiative heralds.”

Dr Celia Hynes, Lead Research, University of Central Lancashire, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to undertake this much needed piece of research and as a research team we look forward to providing evidence that will inform future practice.”


King’s welcomes back the Duke of Sussex for Veterans’ Mental Health Conference

The fifth Veterans’ Mental Health Conference takes place at King’s College London today. The annual event brings together leading academics, charities and policy makers to network and to hear the latest research on military mental health from speakers of world-class reputation.

High profile guests include the Duke of Sussex, who has attended the conference three years running, and the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence, People and Veterans who gave the opening address.

Ahead of the conference Mr Ellwood said: ‘As a former soldier and current Reservist, I’m passionate about doing all we can to support the brave men and women in our Armed Forces, including the millions of veterans who have given so much to the nation.

‘For too long the issue of mental health has been misunderstood and we are working incredibly hard to break down the stigma around mental health. I’m pleased this conference will bring together academics, charities and policy makers to help us drive progress and facilitate a meaningful discussion on the latest military mental health research.’

Following the morning session, the Duke met some of the speakers including Professor Zahava Solomon from Tel Aviv University, Ms Kacie Kelly from the George W Bush Institute and Dr Heidi Cramm from Queens University, Canada.

Organised by King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) and sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), the theme of this year’s conference is evidence, innovation and practice. As well as influential UK and international researchers, the conference featured perspectives from Combat Stress, Contact, the NHS and the BBC.

KCMHR is the leading civilian UK centre of excellence for military health research. Co-directed by Professor Sir Simon Wessely and Professor Nicola Fear, KCMHR draws on the experience of a multidisciplinary team, many of whom feature in this year’s conference, including Professor Wessely, Dr Dan Leightley, Professor Edgar Jones, Dr Dominic Murphy and Professor Neil Greenberg.

Commenting on the day’s events, Professor Greenberg said: ‘We are delighted that for the fifth year running this conference has been such a great success. Being able to welcome the Duke of Sussex back for the third time has been a real honour, and we were thrilled that the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood was able to give the opening address.’

‘Having a forum to exchange ideas with colleagues in academia, the military, the public sector and Service charities is of huge benefit to the whole team at KCMHR. We hope all the attendees find the conference beneficial in working to improve the lives of service personnel, serving or retired, and their families.’

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This is the forth year we have sponsored this important annual knowledge sharing and networking event and we are proud to do so.

“The theme of this year’s conference, ‘Evidence, Innovation and Practice’, reflects the importance of the work that Forces in Mind Trust do. We use the evidence we generate, and completed by many of the attendees here today, to enable policy makers and service providers to be better informed in the decisions they make with regards to the Armed Forces.”

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.