A new evaluation report, funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has found that advocacy service The Veterans’ Advocacy People, delivered by The Advocacy People, had significant positive outcomes for ex-Service personnel. The report was launched at an online event today (28 January), attended by Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, and James Sunderland MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Veterans and of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces Covenant. The report found that the service had a range of benefits for ex-Service personnel and their families, with a social return on investment of £4.74 for every £1 spent.
SERIO, an applied research unit at the University of Plymouth, undertook the evaluation, concluding that there were significant benefits to ex-Service personnel who engaged with the service. Outcomes included onward referrals with appropriate organizations, access to support groups, resolved housing issues, clearing of debt, improved finances and access to education.
SERIO also reported a positive impact on the Advocates themselves, who found the role rewarding and fulfilling, and increased their awareness of issues faced by the veteran community.
As well as listing specific outcomes, such as securing employment, the report includes insights from ex-Service personnel who accessed the service, demonstrating the overall impact on their wellbeing. One individual said:
“The service has helped me hugely. It has taken me from being suicidal to having the support of someone I trust, someone I can talk to.”
“My confidence has come back. My whole life has changed. I am more confident now. A few months ago, I would not have been able to talk to you. The main thing that is positive for me is the ability to conduct my own affairs. It has built my confidence in myself.”
The Veterans’ Advocacy People delivered advocacy services to ex-Service personnel and their families in five areas – Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire; Plymouth, Devon and Torbay; Wiltshire; Berkshire East and North Hampshire; and Essex. FiMT funded a comprehensive evaluation of the service to assess the effectiveness of advocacy for veterans.
The research is based on 199 people who received one-to-one Advocate support. The most common issues presented were benefits (34%), health and social care (21%), housing and homelessness (18%) and legal/financial (10%).
Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said:
“Although most Service leavers make a successful transition to civilian life, some will face challenges either immediately or further down the line. After a life in the military, ex-Service personnel can struggle to navigate complicated civilian welfare systems. This is where advocacy services such as The Veterans’ Advocacy People can make a difference.
“As SERIO’s evaluation has found, The Veterans Advocacy People provides tangible benefits to ex-Service personnel, and has a good social return on investment. This report demonstrates the value of advocacy in giving ex-Service personnel a voice, and empowering them to take control of their lives. We now hope to see it rolled out across the UK.”
Matthew Hilton, Chief Executive Office of The Advocacy People, said:
“Too often, the quantifiable benefits of what advocacy can deliver are ignored. The report from SERIO addresses that head on. Timely and time-limited advocacy interventions can help people – including veterans – regain control of their lives and avoid unnecessary long-term reliance on others. This is a model for how we could help so many reclaim their voice and their independence.”