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.


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.


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

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.

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.



Twitter: @FiMTrust


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Help us, help them campaign

TV presenter, adventurer and mum of two Helen Skelton is calling upon UK shoppers to support the thousands of families that help make up the 6.7 million people in the UK’s Armed Forces community with the ‘Help us, help them’ campaign exclusively at Sainsbury’s. When shoppers purchase any selected P&G health and beauty products, including Oral-B, Olay and Gillette, from 11th October to 21st November they will trigger a donation to The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland.

Crucial service

Helen is hoping she can inspire families around the country to get involved and support the campaign by simply buying donating P&G products instore or online at Sainsbury’s. “It’s just so easy to get involved” says Helen. “The Armed Forces provide us with such a crucial service and give so much. This campaign is a great way to show our support and provide help where it’s needed the most. Through The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland, we can ensure our Armed Forces community is taken care of in whatever way it needs. I’ve had the privilege to meet both serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans, and have seen first-hand the effects military life can have on families. As a mum, I know how important it is to feel supported and I hope that UK shoppers get behind this wonderful partnership.”

 The ‘Help us, help them’ campaign, in partnership with Sainsbury’s and P&G, will enable The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland to continue to provide vital services to serving Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families including; recovery, respite breaks and money and careers advice. 10p from every donating P&G product will be donated to the Legion or Poppyscotland, according to where sales were made.

Simon Pearce, Team Leader, P&G UK and Ireland, says, “This campaign is simple. Simple to get involved with and simple in what it aims to do. We want to help as many people in the Armed Forces community as possible. All that shoppers need to do is buy what is already on their shopping lists! We are proud to be partnering with Sainsbury’s and privileged to be part of this campaign in aid of The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland which will help make a huge difference to the lives of Armed Forces families all over the UK.”

 Claire Rowcliffe, Director of Fundraising, The Royal British Legion, says, “Since 1921 The Royal British Legion has been there for the UK’s Armed Forces community through thick and thin. We are grateful to campaigns like ‘Help us, help them’ which, along with the public’s fantastic support, enable us to continue providing support to those in need, whether they are Serving Armed Forces personnel, veterans, or their families.”

 Anna Harland, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Sainsbury’s says, “We’ve been working with The Royal British Legion for 23 years and, last year alone our colleagues and our customers are proud to have raised £3 million. This year we’re hoping to raise even more money for the Legion, and this new partnership with P&G is another way we’re making it easy for our customers to donate when they shop with us.”

 From 11th October to 21st November 2017 you can get involved and help raise money with brands such as Oral-B, Olay, Gillette, Pantene and many more. Purchase donating P&G health and beauty products at Sainsbury’s instore or online and P&G will make a donation to The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. 1 pack = 1 donation. Find out more


Time to Tackle Public Misconceptions over our Veterans

The public overestimates the extent of serious problems faced by former Armed Forces personnel, according to new research from Lord Ashcroft, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Veterans’ Transition. The survey, which formed part of his annual update to the Veterans’ Transition Review, found the average estimate of the proportion of veterans with physical, emotional or mental health problems was 54%. More than three quarters thought mental health problems were more likely to happen (and more than a quarter that they were “much more likely” to happen) to former members of the Forces compared to people in general.

Public Perceptions

82% of the public thought mental health issues were among the most common problems faced by people leaving the Forces – ahead of “problems adjusting to a civilian environment” (65%), “physical injuries or physical health problems” (61%) and “problems finding a good new job” (41%). In focus groups, members of the public associated Service leavers with qualities including discipline and leadership, but often spontaneously raised problems including mental health disorders, aggression, addiction and homelessness.

In the three years to April 2017, 13.4% of those leaving the Forces were medically discharged, including 7.45% due to musculoskeletal disorders or injuries, and 2.37% due to a mental health condition[1]. Whole military population studies by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research have found that the overall rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder rose from 4% to 6% in the ten years to 2014-16, compared to 4.4% in the general population[2].

Call for a new approach

Commenting on the findings, Lord Ashcroft said:

“Military service can be dangerous, and those who need help after they have served should get the very best available. But the great majority of those leaving the Forces go on to lead normal, healthy, productive lives. They have a vast amount to offer. The idea that they are likely to be damaged is wrong, and creates a barrier both to those seeking civilian work, and to recruitment into the Armed Forces. That is why my report calls for the government to adopt a new approach to changing these misguided perceptions.”

In his report, which has been delivered to the Prime Minister and Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Lord Ashcroft recommends that this should be a task for the newly established Veterans Board, drawing on expertise from outside Whitehall. He concludes: “Improvements will not come from doing more of what we are doing now, or even doing it better. It will require a new approach, bringing in expertise that government offices do not have, and must be driven with leadership and sustained energy at the highest level.”

Some concerns despite improvements

The annual report, in which Lord Ashcroft reviews progress on the delivery of changes he recommended in the 2014 Review, finds improvements in areas including career transition, the handover of medical cases from Defence Medical Services to the NHS, and the creation of a single point of contact for Forces charities. However, Lord Ashcroft reiterates concerns, raised in previous reports, that provision throughout the UK remains uneven, with Service leavers and veterans in Northern Ireland still at a disadvantage compared to those in EnglandScotland and Wales.

1. Annual Medical Discharges In The UK Regular Armed Forces, 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2017, MOD, July 2017

2. The Mental Health Of The Armed Forces, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, July 2017


Loss of trust in charities ‘has hit income of armed forces charities’

Armed forces charities are experiencing a drop in income as a result of declining public trust in charities, Lord Ashcroft’s third annual follow-up of his Veterans’ Transition Review has said.

The review, carried out by former deputy chair of the Conservative Party, said that although the armed forces charity sector will remain a vital part of the environment whatever improvements in process and provision are made by governments and local authorities, “events have combined to raise a number of significant challenges for all charities, and those that support the armed forces in particular”. It said that charities in this sector have the “added disadvantage” that in the absence of military operations, and a reduction in the size of the armed forces, they have “faded from public view”.

Loss in Income

The review stated that there has been a “loss of trust in the charity sector as a whole, caused mainly by misconduct by trustees and management in a few”. It highlighted the 2016 Charity Commission report on public trust and confidence in charities, which showed a sharp drop in confidence over the past few years. The review identified concerns “about the way money is spent, the way charities are run, and fundraising techniques. One outcome is a steady loss in income, and this is certainly being experienced by some armed forces charities.” Ashcroft’s review includes insights gained from interview with 1,001 adults online between 23 and 27 June 2017, as well as from eight focus groups including participants from a range of ages and social backgrounds, with no one with close connections with current armed forces personnel, Service Leavers or veterans.

Charity Governance Code

Ashcroft stated in his review that there is an opportunity for larger armed forces charities to use the Charity Governance Code to “show that they are the best in the world, ahead of the game and thus entitled to the full confidence of donors, beneficiaries, and the wider public.” The review also called on more collaboration between organisations, citing the Gateway project – which proved a single point of contact for those seeking help – as one example where the sector can “improve the efficiency of providing support to those that need help”. He said: “The confusing array of information and navigating through the many contact centres and websites has in my view been a barrier to getting help and now we have the chance to fix this.”

Presence of charities

Ashcroft reported that the groups interviewed felt that charities were filling a gap left by government. He said: “People in our focus groups were unsure what help was available for Service Leavers and veterans who needed it, but the presence of charities in the sector led many to think that official or statutory provision must be insufficient.”  Full Article and links here


Jeffrey’s 86 Miles for 86 Years

A message from St James’s Branch member Jeffrey Long

I’m at it again!


I turn 86 this year so I have decided to walk 86 miles along the Thames to fundraise for the Royal British Legion.


The Royal British Legion is at the heart of a national network that supports our Armed Forces through thick and thin – ensuring their unique contribution is never forgotten.


The money raised through this page will go towards ensuring that the Legion can continue to assist the Armed Forces Community with a broad range of services from debt advice to Admiral Nurses and Care Homes.

Long by name, long by nature, well done Jeffrey, we look forward all the St James’s Branch Members supporting you in this adventure.

The link to Jeffrey’s justgiving page is  Jeffrey Long @ Justgiving




Military charities could be failing veterans, Charity Commission warns

Military charities set up in the aftermath of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could be failing to protect veterans, the Charity Commission has warned. The watchdog said it was concerned that some of the charities set up to help former military personnel by people “with good intentions” were not being run properly. 

Charities Failing

In a report released today the Commission said its enquiries suggested that some charities did not consider users with mental health problems as a result of serving in the forces to be “vulnerable”. It said it had found a “concerning lack of safeguarding policies and practices” and that some charities were failing to carry out DBS checks on their workers to make sure vulnerable veterans were protected from exploitation. It also said its own work suggested that “military charities appeared to be at greater risk of compliance and reputational issues, which could affect public trust and confidence”. 

187 New Charities

The Commission said it had seen a rise in organisations set up to help veterans of Middle Eastern conflicts, with 187 new military charities registered since 2007.  One charity, the Excalibur Unit, had employed an outside fundraiser and there had been complaints from the public about “aggressive” tactics, as well as concerns that much of the money the fundraiser made was not going to the charity itself. 

 The Commission found that 80 per cent of money raised through the sale of merchandise was retained by the fundraiser. It said it had “serious concerns” about the impact of the complaints on the charity’s reputation. It added that the trustees had recently decided to wind it up entirely. Another charity, Standeasy Military Support, only implemented DBS checks for a volunteer after the Commission’s intervention.  The Commission added that “most of the military charities we engaged with did not have adequate policies in place to deal with complaints”. “Military charities often have a high public profile, so we would expect trustees to recognise this and be prepared to deal with complaints that are made,” the report said. 

Think Carefully

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “Some veterans may be potentially vulnerable for a variety of reasons because of what they’ve seen and been through, and charities set up to help them must make caring for them, and protecting them, an absolute priority. “The public would be rightly concerned if veterans were exposed to harm through a charity supposed to help them.” She said that anyone thinking of setting up a military charity should “think carefully” before doing so.  “There are other ways of supporting the armed forces community, including supporting with money or time an existing, established veterans charity. Setting up a new charity may not be the most effective way to help,” she added. 

Charities also failed to exert sufficient control over their finances, and many did not have an effective financial plan. There were also concerns about conflicts of interest with trustees potentially gaining “unauthorised” benefits in one case.  The Commission examined 21 randomly selected military and veterans’ charities and visited five which it had serious concerns about. As a result of the audit, a statutory inquiry was opened into one of the charities, Support the Heroes, which appeared in a BBC documentary, The Great Military Charity Scandal, last year. The inquiry is ongoing. 

Highest of Standards

General Sir John McColl, Executive Chairman of Cobseo, The Confederation of Service Charities said: “We strongly support the Charity Commission’s scrutiny of safeguarding and fundraising practices, not just for the Military Charities on its register, but across the entire charitable sector.  “Service charities play a crucial, and highly effective, role in supporting the Armed Forces Community. “Cobseo, The Confederation of Service Charities, strives for the highest of standards amongst its membership and will continue to work closely with the Charity Commission in pursuit of this goal.”


Rugby legends battle on behalf of World War Two heroes

On Saturday 14 October 2017 there will be a rugby match like no other as some of the world’s greatest rugby legends battle it out to raise funds to enable World War Two heroes to make a special trip of remembrance. 

Remembrance Travel

Organised by Remembrance Travel, the travel arm of the Royal British Legion, The Legends will help raise much-needed funds to send World War Two veterans on a journey of remembrance to Monte Cassino.  Remembrance Travel was awarded significant Libor funding to take Normandy veterans back to the beaches from the Treasury, but this does not cover those who served in Italy. The veterans will be accompanied by a relative, carer and medical staff. 

Ex England, Wales, South Africa, Wasps and Harlequins’ players have signed up including the magical former Wales Captain Colin Charvis, Ireland International, Simon Keogh, England International player Howard Graham and British sprint athlete Jamie Baulch. The Legends will play against a team of skilled, amateur players representing the Legionnaires. There will be a further match on the day between the Barbarians City League and the Combined Services. 

A day to remember

Colin Charvis (pictured) said: “We are going to give this our all and make it a day to remember. This is such a worthwhile cause. It is good to give something back to brave servicemen who helped bring an end to World War Two. These brave veterans fought in horrendous conditions and wish to return to Italy to honour their fallen comrades”.  
Most of the veterans who fought at Monte Cassino are in their nineties. This is their opportunity to return to a battle scene that changed their young lives. They fought on the historic Monte Cassino hilltop on exposed slopes, coming under heavy artillery fire in severe conditions.  Paul Smith, Team Captain, Legionnaires said: “We may be playing against some of the best in the business but we are determined to beat them. After all we have the honour of the Royal British Legion at stake.” 
The teams are brought together by Howard Graham, former Harlequins player and Academy Head Coach and Antony Brentnall, Managing Director, Developmenta, Executive Coaching, Facilitator and Development. The Rugby Match and Gala Dinner are supported by Wates Construction and A E Arma Elektropanc. 

Birmingham Central Mosque honours British Armed Forces

Birmingham Central Mosque showed its support for the military today by becoming the first in the West Midlands to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. Senior representatives from the Army, Navy, Royal Air Force and the region’s Muslim community gathered at the mosque in Highgate to witness the signing.

Mutual Understanding

Mr Muhammad Afzal, chairman of the mosque stood alongside Colonel Richard Maybery, Deputy Commander of Donnington based 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade.

It gives me great pleasure to have signed the Covenant with the British Armed Forces on behalf of Birmingham Central Mosque. I hope this agreement will further strengthen our relationship with the Armed Forces to bring more respect and mutual understanding between the Muslim community and other communities living in the UK.


Looking Forward

Colonel Maybery said he was delighted to co-sign the Armed Forces Covenant with the Chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, and very much appreciated the support from the Mosque for the Armed Forces.

One of the reasons for the signing is to publicly demonstrate the mutual respect between the Armed Forces and the Muslim Community in the West Midlands and nationally.

It underlines our desire to develop our mutual understanding and to better integrate the Armed Forces with the Muslim community. I very much look forward to working with the Mosque in the future.


Long History

Major Naveed Muhammad, MBE, Chairman of the Armed Forces Muslim Association and serving British Army Officer said he hoped other institutions would be inspired by Birmingham Central Mosque.

It is fantastic to see the Birmingham Central Mosque honour the selfless sacrifice of the British Armed Forces by signing the Armed Forces Covenant; I would encourage all institutions to follow suit.

The British Muslim community has a long history of contributing towards the security of our nation and there is not a single major conflict in which Muslim soldiers have not fought and died for our country.

Britain has always embraced multiculturalism and the Armed Forces have and will always continue efforts to reflect this diversity.


The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

Leicester’s Central Mosque became the first in the UK to sign the covenant last September, followed by Nottingham’s Karima Mosque in December.


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