Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust - Forces For Change programme

Thursday 28th March 2024

The Armed Forces Covenant Trust (the Trust) is delighted to announce grants totalling more than £450,000 have been awarded to 34 outstanding projects in the final round of their Force for Change programme. This small grant programme supports projects that reduce isolation and promote integration in local Armed Forces communities.

Empowering military children

Support Paws is a pilot scheme from Veterans with Dogs, that introduces Community Dogs to UK schools to provide emotional support for military children. They have received an award of £14,800 in this latest round. Collaborating with SSCE Cymru and BERA, the project aims to improve wellbeing, resilience and educational outcomes.

Craig MacLellan, Veterans With Dogs CEO, told explained: “Securing funding through the Force for Change programme is a pivotal moment for Veterans With Dogs and for military children in schools. This support will empower us to make a meaningful difference in their lives, providing essential support and assistance through our Support Paws programme to help them thrive despite the challenges they face. We are honoured by this opportunity and look forward to positively impacting the educational journey of our military-connected students.”

Specialist guidance for carers

Suffolk Family Carers were awarded £14,419 for their Armed Forces Family Carers Connected project, which will provide a series of information, advice and guidance workshops for adult family carers in the Armed Forces community.

Sarah Potter, Mental Health and Wellbeing Service Manager at Suffolk Family Carers explains: “This grant will allow us to co-produce and deliver a series of information, advice and guidance workshops for adult family carers in the Armed Forces community, bringing them together to build networks, decrease isolation and receive bespoke information related to their rights and entitlements as family carers in the Armed Forces community.

“Armed Forces Family Carers Connected can be accessed by any adult, living in Suffolk with a caring role in the UK Armed Forces community. The grant will allow us to engage with this often-unseen group of family carers and provide them with much needed information and support.”

A boost for isolated Veterans

STEPWAY will run an outdoor community project which will provide a safe place for Veterans and family members to meet and learn new skills. Activities will include beekeeping, a mushroom farm, archery, bush craft and how to grow your own produce at home. The project received a grant of £14,999.

Dawn Turner, CEO at STEPWAY, said: “We are delighted to receive a grant from the Force for Change programme. This funding will enable the charity to support Veterans and family members at the community project, providing free activities for the whole family to enjoy. Sandwell is a known deprived area, and the cost-of-living crisis has hit the local community hard. Therefore, not only will this grant help Veterans find their sense of belonging, it will also reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation, and improve overall health and wellbeing.”

Funding enables improved support

It’s not the first time STEPWAY have received funding through the Force for Change programme. In February 2023, they received £10,000 to support their Banter and Brew drop-in services which provide free breakfast and social activities for Veterans and their families across Worcestershire. Chief Executive of STEPWAY, Dawn Turner, provided an update on how the project has progressed…

“The Force for Change grant has enabled the charity to open two new Drop-in services (Banter and Brews). This has come to the attention of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Northfield, who have invited STEPWAY to deliver a service there as most of their staff and patients are Veterans or still serving. Therefore, the grant has helped STEPWAY to upskill a workforce, and discover a hidden cohort of Veterans within the NHS Trust” she explained.

With increasing demand on services, they’ve appointed a Regional Co-ordinator to ensure continuity, sustainability and coordination. They have opened two new Banter and Brew services in Bromsgrove and Redditch, and have expanded their activities at their existing services in Worcester, Oldbury, Upton Upon Severn and Kidderminster, as well as through the Veterans forums in HMP Oakwood and Hewell.

By September 2023, the project was supporting 78 beneficiaries and feedback gathered from attendees is positive – two Veterans have entered back into work following engagement with the project and one has expressed that his plan to take his own life was halted the day he attended a Banter and Brew.

More than £6 million awarded in small grants

Since 2020, the Force for Change programme has awarded over £6 million to 484 projects across the UK; supporting everything from gardening, woodworking and crafting, to social clubs, support networks and community groups. These projects have shown that small grants really can create a big impact within Forces communities.

Sonia Howe, Director of Policy and Communications at the Trust, adds: “The Force for Change programme has provided accessible funding to a wide range of organisations supporting Armed Forces communities across the UK. We are proud of the difference these small grants have made, from large and small charities, community hubs and drop-in centres, Armed Forces organisations, schools and more. This final round of awards has continued to reflect the ethos support for our Armed Forces personnel, families and Veterans in the communities where they live.”

For a full list of all awardees from this round and previous rounds of the Force for Change programme, visit the Trust’s website www.covenantfund.org.uk

Keep up to date with funding opportunities

For the latest updates and announcements on each of these Covenant Fund programmes, and any other funding opportunities the Trust has available throughout the year, sign up to their e-newsletter via their website www.covenantfund.org.uk

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