A new Forces in Mind Trust funded report assessing the services available for, and provided to, Commonwealth serving and ex-Service personnel and their families has been released…

The report has identified a number of improvements to better focus services for the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community.

Thirteen recommendations are provided in the report to strengthen the strategy to meet the needs of serving and ex-Service personnel and their families from the Commonwealth within a complex and still politically charged society. These include:

  • The introduction of an online information training programme on immigration rules
  • Assistance for welfare services advising on visa and immigration rules
  • A review of the minimum income threshold
  • A need for greater collaboration across the Armed Forces welfare sector
  • Increase in research into Commonwealth perspectives

The eight-month study was undertaken by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), working directly with the Cobseo Foreign and Commonwealth Cluster Group. It focussed on the existing service provision to better understand: what welfare support is currently provided, the needs identified by supporting organisations and how support could be enhanced.

Researchers collected data through a survey by the Armed Forces charity sector and telephone interviews with experts in the field of service provision.

Three key issues were identified. Firstly, information gathering and recording with regard the Commonwealth community are limited across the charity sector and prevent forward planning for service provision; secondly, immigration difficulties were highlighted which can lead to difficult transition back into civilian life; and thirdly, the services provided have a relatively low up-take by the cohort.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This ground-breaking research commissioned by FiMT on behalf of the Cobseo Cluster group highlights that there are areas where changes are much needed in the services provided to the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community, communications with them, and underpinning Home Office and Ministry of Defence policies.”

Matt Fossey, Director of the Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, said: “This empirically driven report has collated important evidence of the welfare needs of Commonwealth Service Personnel, veterans and their families and proposes attainable recommendations, which will make a positive difference to the lives of members of the Armed Forces Commonwealth Community.”

Louise Simpson, Policy & Research Director, Army Families’ Federation (AFF) said: “At a time when we are seeing a growing number of F&C soldiers and their families asking us for help and support, we’re delighted to see that the recommendations that we’ve been making, such as targeted information to the F&C community, and the need for financial education and support finally have the strong corroboration needed to progress these important issues for our F&C families.”

You can read the report here.