New research centre established to support Armed Forces community

Alex Cooper (Director, FiMT Research Centre), Hans Pung (Chairman, FiMT & President of Rand Europe), Matt Fossey (Director, Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University) and Professor Iain Martin (Vice Chancellor, Anglia Ruskin University).

Policy makers, professionals and members of the public with an interest in ex-Service personnel and their families will be among those to benefit from a new research centre set up specifically to support the research needs of the Armed Forces community, which launches this week.

Enabling

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), a charity whose aim is to provide an evidence base that will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful and fulfilled civilian lives, has provided funding to Anglia Ruskin University to run the FiMT Research Centre (the Centre) in support of this aim.

Shared Understanding

The Centre, which resides within the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education as an integrated part of the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin, will provide a UK-based research-enabling and production facility that will help deepen shared understanding and develop links between the academic community, government organisations, statutory and voluntary service providers, the media, and members of the public. 

The Centre will do this through several means, including:

  •   Providing advice and support to charities and other service providers who are engaged in or have an interest in research relevant to ex-Service personnel and their families
  • Producing fresh research into key issues facing ex-Service personnel and their families to aid understanding and improve policy and service delivery
  • Organising an annual conference with an awards ceremony to celebrate recently completed research into issues affecting the Armed Forces community.

The FiMT Research Centre will also manage the Veterans and Families Research (VFR) Hub, a newly launched, easily searchable and free-to-use online resource that will deliver a contemporary and authoritative source of UK and international research-related information on military veterans and their families. This includes a number of factors affecting the transitions to civilian life for serving personnel and their families.

Collaboration

The Hub’s facilities will help enable the widest spectrum of users, from academia, the government and the media to third sector service deliverers and lay users, to find information, collaborate and share information.  Ultimately, the Hub aims to stimulate research and policy development, improve service delivery, and enhance shared understanding and can be accessed at www.vfrhub.com.

Commenting on the launch of the FiMT RC and VFR Hub, Lord Ashcroft, Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, author of the Veterans Transition Review, and Patron of the FiMT RC, said: “In my work on the transition of service personnel back into civilian life, one theme that has arisen time and again is the problem of finding reliable, easily accessible information that could help policy makers reach decisions, the media report accurately about veterans, and be an invaluable resource for the Armed Forces, veterans and the wider public.

First port of call

“The Veterans and Families Research Hub, operated by the FiMT Research Centre at Anglia Ruskin University, will become the first port of call for everybody who wants to find good information and the best research. It is welcome and much needed, and I encourage everybody to use it and submit their research and studies to it, so that we quickly establish the world’s centre of excellence in this field.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, the funding organisation behind the FiMT RC and VFR Hub said: “Since its inception, Forces in Mind Trust has worked hard to improve the quality and quantity of the information and data that decision-makers can draw upon when analysing and discussing the varied challenges faced by our serving men and women as they make the transition to civilian life.

“The launch of the research centre and hub represents a significant step forward toward this vitally important goal, which in turn will result in better understanding of and service provision for ex-Service personnel and their families.”

Ultimate Benefit

Alex Cooper, Director of the FiMT Research Centre, said: “There has been much research carried out into military veterans and their families but it is fragmented, of varying quality and is not always easily accessible.  The FiMT RC and online VFR Hub provide key resources for those seeking a better understanding of issues affecting UK and international military veterans and their families by offering a variety of easily accessible research-related resources and services.  Whether actively searching the VFR Hub for information or collaborative opportunities, to seeking advice and support from the research centre, hopefully this resource will help inform all manner of people who are interested in, or are working within this important field, ultimately to benefit the Armed Forces community”.

 About 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 Veterans’ 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.

Website: www.fim-trust.org

Reports: www.fim-trust.org/reports/

Twitter: @FiMTrust