Ulster University study first ever to look at public attitudes towards the UK Armed Forces

Attitudes of the people of Northern Ireland towards current and former UK Armed Forces personnel have been revealed for the first time in a report released this week, titled ‘Public Attitudes to the UK Armed Forces in Northern Ireland’.

The Forces in Mind Trust funded an additional set of questions in the Northern Ireland Life and Times survey (NILT) and results were collated in a report produced by researchers from Ulster University.

42% of the NI population reporting a high/very high opinion of the UK Armed Forces today versus 12% having a low/very low opinion.  This is notably higher than the 33% high/very high opinion of the UK Armed Forces when considered in the context of the Troubles specifically. Findings from the survey show that there are still substantial differences of opinion within the Protestant and Catholic communities, and across different age groups.

Recommendations within the report include:

  • Community Integration and building of relationships between veterans and the community.
  • Awareness training through a public facing campaign promoting positive images of veteran mental health and addressing perceptions of alcohol misuse, to reduce the negative effect misinformed perceptions can otherwise have on employment prospects and social networks.
  • The developments of an exploratory committee to look at the issues associated with implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant, and awareness raising to improve understanding of its principles and the situation specific to Northern Ireland.

Researchers have highlighted potential areas for future research such as the regular incorporation of Armed Forces related questions in the NILT survey to map the public opinions over time and highlight any changes.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “It’s great to see the opinion of the people of Northern Ireland being heard in relation to the UK Armed Forces. Although we see improvements in how people perceive the Armed Forces, there is significant work still to be done in relation to views on the mental health and alcohol misuse of ex-Service personnel, and on understanding and awareness of what the Armed Forces Covenant is.”

Principal investigator, Professor Chérie Armour, Ulster University, Associate Dean of Research and Impact and Director of the Institute of Mental Health Sciences, said: “For the very first time we have been able to explore public attitudes in Northern Ireland towards the UK Armed Forces, veteran’s wellbeing, and service provision.

“Key to our results are that the largest majority of the public reported they respect the Armed Forces and that many have a high to very high opinion of the UK Armed Forces. Many also reported that they would be supportive of a specialist mental health service for veterans living in the region.”

You can see the full report here


Note to Editor:  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.

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 https://www.vfrhub.com/. 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.

Useful links

About the Mental Health Research Programme: www.fim-trust.org/mental-health/research-programme/

For further information contact Carol McKeown, Ulster University, Communications Team: Tel: 028 9036 8995/ 07583402042 or e-mail: c.mckeown1@ulster.ac.uk

About Ulster University

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For more information, please visit www.ulster.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter @ulsteruni

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