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Ulster University Research Calls for Increased Support for Northern Ireland Veterans

A landmark report from Ulster University on veterans’ services in Northern Ireland has called for increased support for veterans and their families.

This is the second in a series of reports from the Northern Ireland Veterans Health and Wellbeing Study (NIVHWS) from Ulster University, which received £750,000 funding over four years from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

The latest report outlines the findings of in-depth interviews with 20 service providers and 13 veteran-led focus groups, to establish more information about the current needs of this group and to help predict their future needs.

Ulster University lead researcher, Professor Cherie Armour said: “This report underlines the complex and overlapping nature of the needs of the veteran population living in Northern Ireland. Not only do veterans face a series of personal, social and institutional barriers to seeking support, they also face the present and future difficulties posed by an aging population.

“A key theme emerging from the research was the importance of the role of families, social networks and peer support to veterans – the report recommends that more be done to better support these families. There is also a need for improved resources and communication across public and voluntary services.”

The legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and its impact on various aspects of veterans’ lives is also explored.

Dr Bethany Waterhouse-Bradley, lead research associate and project coordinator, added: “While we do not yet have evidence of differences in outcomes for veterans in Northern Ireland versus the rest of the United Kingdom, it is clear that the legacy of the Troubles and the lack of implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant leaves many veterans here feeling that they are disadvantaged.

“The report underlines the importance of finding ways to recognise veterans’ service and suggests that offficals undertake a public engagement exercise with veterans to establish potential solutions to the lack of implementation of the AFC in the region.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust said: “The purpose of Forces in Mind Trust is to enable all ex-Service personnel and their families to have a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life.

“The evidence and recommendations put forward by this latest report offer us an opportunity to focus on the needs of the Armed Forces community in Northern Ireland.  There is considerable opportunity for change, and we hope that all those involved in working with ex-Service personnel and their families will consider how they can take the recommendations forward.”

Full details of the NIVHWS report entitled ‘Current and Future Needs of Veterans in Northern Ireland’ can be accessed at: http://www.niveteranstudy.org/ .

-Ends-

Press queries to Ulster University Communications Team: Tel: 028 9036 6178 e-mail: pressoffice@ulster.ac.uk 

Ray Lock is available for interview. To arrange please contact Tina McKay, Communications Officer at FiMT on co@fim-trust.org or on 07956 101132 or 0207 901 8916.

Notes to editor:

About the 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. http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

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 Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families 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.

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