Armed Force Communities Fund Trust Communities Programme

Thursday 14th March 2024

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (The Trust) is delighted to announce that they have awarded over £2.8 million to 32 targeted projects that will deliver real change within Armed Forces communities in the final round of the Reaching and Supporting Armed Forces Communities programme.

That’s a huge total of more than £11.8 million in grant awards since the programme launched in April 2022!

Addressing gaps in support

Race Council Cymru have been awarded £99,851 to establish a support network for ethnic minority Veterans and their families, providing access to essential support and resources. The project will address a significant gap in support for ethnic minority Veterans in Wales, helping them access support and honouring their Service.

Professor Uzo Iwobi CBE, CE at Race Council Cymru says:

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this grant and what a wonderful opportunity to allocate resources to working with the Armed Forces to engage with more diverse ethnic Veterans and their families, connecting them to the Armed Forces family.”

Specialist employment support

The Poppy Factory will receive £100,000 to expand the Families Employment Service which is delivered in partnership with families’ specialists The Ripple Pond. Launched in March 2023, this two-year pilot service offers remote, one-to-one support for adult family members who support Veterans with health conditions and require additional help finding and retaining employment.

Debbie Boughtflower, Director of Operations at The Poppy Factory, said:

“It’s clear that there are many family members whose lives have been affected by time in Service, and who now face significant barriers to employment. Our specialists are proving that expert support can make all the difference.

“We are tremendously grateful to The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust for supporting the successful launch of the Families Employment Service, and for providing further funds to ensure we can help many more family members to find a new way forward.”

This award will enable The Poppy Factory to continue to meet a high level of demand and to further develop the service.

Strengthening support and building partnerships

Beyond the Battlefield’s project, Pace, will develop a sustainable support structure for LGBT+ Veterans and their families in Northern Ireland by building a partnership between the Veterans and Veterans’ organisations. The project, which was awarded £100,000, aims to create safe spaces for LGBT+ Veterans and improve their pathways to support, helping to promote inclusion and recognition.

Annemarie Hastings, CEO of Beyond the Battlefield, explains:

“This groundbreaking initiative seeks to fortify the assistance provided to LGBT+ Veterans residing in Northern Ireland. Our project mission is to bolster the existing support structures within Veterans’ and LGBT+ organisations across the region. At the heart of our endeavour lies a commitment to advancing the recommendations tailored to Northern Ireland as outlined by Lord Etherton’s independent review on the service and experiences of pre-2000 LGBT+ Veterans. Central to our vision is the empowerment and expansion of Fighting with Pride’s footprint within Northern Ireland.”

Providing an escape from barrack life

39 Engineer Regiment were awarded £50,000 to deliver four off-grid Respite Pods at Kinloss Barracks on the Moray Coast, North Scotland. The pods will be available for use by soldiers when off duty for socialising and relaxing, addressing issues of social isolation and loneliness.

39 Engineer Regiment QM, Lt Col Mark Horrocks, explains:

“39 Eng Regt is a very busy regiment with a high number of young soldiers aged 25 or younger. The remoteness, limited transport and cost of living mean many unaccompanied soldiers remain on Barracks during weekends and many report feeling lonely and isolated. We hope offering single soldiers – either together, or with visiting friends and families – use of this unique sustainable respite area to socialise, escape barrack life, and enjoy the adjacent beach and woodland will enhance wellbeing and promote interest in this area of natural beauty.”

Creating a lasting impact across the UK

In total, across four rounds, the programme has supported 126 fantastic projects across the UK, delivering significant changes and improvements in Armed Forces communities with hidden or compelling needs. The projects supported have addressed a wide range of needs within the Armed Forces community, such as mental health, social isolation and bereavement, to employment, parenting and physical health. A continuing theme addressed by many projects has been the cost-of-living-crisis and the challenges this has presented to Armed Forces communities.

Sonia Howe, Director of Policy at the Trust, said:

“The aim of the Reaching and Supporting Armed Forces Communities programme was to provide targeted funding for Armed Forces communities with hidden or compelling needs, or where there are gaps in provision. We are delighted to have supported so many fantastic projects and we hope that the changes and improvements they introduce continue to positively impact our Armed Forces Communities for years to come.”

Find out more

Check out the full list of awards made in this latest round on their website www.covenantfund.org.uk.

Want to find out what’s next for the Covenant Fund?

The Trust are hosting a Lunch & Learn webinar on Thursday 25 April, 12 noon to 1pm to share how findings from their Armed Forces Covenant Consultation held last year are underpinning the development of future Covenant Fund programmes. Register here.

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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