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Academics receive Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre impact award for their research with Armed Forces families

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 Special Award for FiMpacT from the FiMT Research Centre.

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) Research Centre has announced today (27 January) that Professor Janet Walker OBE and Dr Gabriela Misca are the winners of the 2021 Special Award for FiMpacT, in recognition of their research on Armed Forces families.

The academics were Lead Adviser and Research Adviser respectively for Living In Our Shoes, an independent and comprehensive review into understanding the needs of, and support provided to, Service families. It was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Defence, and led by Andrew Selous MP. The report, which was published in June 2020, had 110 recommendations, many of which the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has agreed to implement. It will form the basis of the MOD’s 2021 Families Strategy, which will have a significant impact on the lives of UK Armed Forces families.

Professor Walker was the lead author of the report, bringing her extensive research experience and understanding of Armed Forces families to the project. She travelled across the UK to speak to families, ensuring that their voices were heard and included in the report. As Research Adviser to the review, Dr Misca worked closely with Professor Walker to ensure that the recommendations were informed by the latest national and international research on military families.
Professor Janet Walker OBE

Professor Walker is Emeritus Professor of Family Policy at Newcastle University. She has led over fifty multi-disciplinary studies relating to family life and relationships. Her research has been widely published, and she has worked closely with government departments and other sectors to influence policy and practice throughout her career.
Dr Gabriela Misca

Dr Gabriela Misca is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Worcester and an expert in child and family psychology, with a current focus on military families. Recipient of a 2015-16 Fulbright Scholar Award, she spent a year in the USA collaborating with practice agencies, Veteran Administration establishments and research partners to identify best practices in supporting military and veteran families, and assess their cultural transferability to the UK.

The award winners will present at the FiMT Research Centre Conference 2021 about how their research informed the findings of the review and its recommendations, on Wednesday 24 March. The online free-to-attend conference will focus on the ‘Transition of Service People and Families’ and is now open for registrations.

Professor Walker also gave a presentation on the findings from the review at a recent launch event for the report. You can watch her presentation here, or see the full event with a speech from the Secretary of State for Defence here.

The Special Award for FiMpacT is one of three awards. The other award winners will be announced in the coming weeks, and they will join Dr Misca and Professor Walker in presenting at the FiMT Research Centre Conference.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Force in Mind Trust, said:

“We are delighted to present this award to both Professor Walker and Dr Misca, in recognition of the remarkable impact their research has had, and will have in future.

“Dr Misca’s expertise in understanding the complexity and diversity of military and veteran families and their support needs contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the review findings, leading to recommendations that are fully evidence-based.

“Professor Walker’s research excellence and her determination to hold the Ministry of Defence to account have resulted in an impactful and truly seminal project that will benefit many Service and ex-Service families for a long period to come.”

Professor Janet Walker OBE said:

“Service men and women are required to put operational efficiency and commitment to ‘duty first’ as their number one priority, and their families experience a level of mobility and repeated periods of separation that are unparalleled in civilian life. It is essential that as a nation we do everything we can to value the sacrifices military families make to keep us all safe. I am delighted that our report has been well-received and that steps are being taken to implement the recommendations.”

Dr Gabriela Misca said:

“A growing body of research sheds light on the lived experiences of military families across the globe, the challenges they face, and their remarkable resilience. It is vital that effective policy and practice are grounded in research evidence and the Living in our shoes recommendations have drawn on both national and international studies. We expect the report to have significant impact on policy and practice and effect positive change for Armed Forces Families now and in the future.”

Andrew Selous MP, who led the review, has also congratulated the researchers. He said:

“It was an enormous pleasure to work with Jan and Gabriela. They were not only extremely knowledgeable and professional but were also brilliant at engaging one-to-one with all the family members we had the privilege of listening to. With my political awareness and with the academic rigour I think we made a very good team.”

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