Forces in Mind Trust has awarded funds of £126,872 to seAp, a charity that provides free advocacy services, to conduct a three-year evaluation of their Military Advocacy Service…

Initially a pilot scheme in Oxfordshire in 2013, the service was founded through seAp’s statutory mental health advocacy work, where they encountered ex-Service personnel who felt unable to access statutory services to meet their specific needs.

Developed through collaboration with local partners including: housing associations; Veterans UK; and Armed Forces charities such as Combat Stress, SSAFA, and TRBL, the service received Treasury funding to expand into the Thames Valley, North Hampshire, Plymouth, Wiltshire and Essex in 2016.

The evaluation will assess the impact of the advocacy provision on ex-Service personnel’s use of services such as: NHS and social care services; housing providers and homelessness agencies; drug and alcohol support agencies; police and criminal justice agencies; benefits system; and labour market.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Forces in Mind Trust was created to enable all ex-Service personnel to have a successful and sustainable transition back into civilian life. The majority face no major problems, but for some, transition present a real challenge.

“By funding research, such as this seAp project, we can inform policy makers and service providers and so ensure that the decisions they make are based on the very best available evidence.

“The value of advocacy, and the benefits it can bring, are well recognized.  However, the specific needs of the Armed Forces Community and the gaps in statutory provision, suggest that a tailored service would be appropriate.

“Our award to seAp to pilot this approach will generate the necessary evidence and help build sector capacity, and it’s a good example of the practical and impactful work the Trust is increasingly undertaking.”

Marie Casey, Chief Executive of seAp Advocacy, said “We have seen the transformative effect advocacy has on the lives of ex-Service personnel who face physical and mental health challenges. We look forward to providing academic proof of the positive effect of specialist tailored support to veterans and their families”