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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.”

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