The ARmed Forces Covenant Fund Trust's Tackling Loneliness Programme

Thursday 6th October 2022

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (the Trust), in collaboration with Neighbourly Lab, Campaign to End Loneliness and The King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMR), King’s College London are pleased to announce the launch of Tackling Armed Forces Loneliness: An Evaluation of the Trust’s Tackling Loneliness Programme.

This in-depth evaluation looks at the success of the programme, including identification of best practices. It also explores loneliness and its effect of the Armed Forces community.

Why tackle Armed Forces loneliness?

In 2020, the Trust ran a consultation with the Armed Forces community to discover how important it was for them to focus on reducing social isolation and improving integration and engagement with provision.

90% of respondents said the Trust should focus on social isolation in their future grant making.

From this, they developed the Tackling Loneliness programme, with focus on specific groups within the Forces community, including LGBTQ+ communities, veterans living in remote areas, female veterans, people from BAME communities and veteran carers. The Trust awarded 60 projects a share of £4 million.

A positive impact on loneliness

The report launched today explores the outcomes of this funding – what works, what lessons can be learned, and the many ways funding was used to make a positive difference.

Anna Wright, CEO of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, explains:

“We were keen that people taking part in projects funded by the Tackling Loneliness programme should feel empowered and encouraged to ‘take a leap’ or try something new. We wanted them to feel part of a community – whether a local community or a community of interests – and to be able to use any funded project as a stepping-stone or helping hand to something bigger.”

Robin Hewings of the Campaign to End Loneliness said:

“The work done to tackle loneliness in Armed Forces communities has been impressive. We’ve seen great examples of services reaching out to under-represented groups, targeting specific problems such as the transition to civilian life and building networks through the strong sense of identity that people have through their connection to the Armed Forces. This is vital work helping people in sometimes very challenging situations.”

The benefits of working together

The evaluation found many examples of organisations working together to maximise the success of their projects. It also looked at the valuable relationship with the funded mentor organisations and their role in providing support and opportunities to come together.

Emma Bowkett from Neighbourly Lab said:

“It has been a privilege to be a part of the evaluation team on this brilliant grant, and to be able to get to know and learn from these organisations who are dedicated to tackling loneliness. We have seen first-hand the efforts of these projects, in supporting those who are hardest to reach in the Armed Forces community and in building services that can have a long-lasting impact on tackling the debilitating causes of loneliness to improve people’s lives for the better.”

Toolkit for tackling loneliness

With the experiences and evidence gathered from the funded projects, as well as the mentor organisations who supported awardees, the evaluation has created a useful toolkit.

Professor Nicola Fear, Co-Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London explains:

“KCMHR’s previous research has shown that there are groups in the Armed Forces community that may be more at risk of experiencing loneliness. This project has evaluated how loneliness can be alleviated in this community and we have learnt a great deal from the lived experiences of project grantees and beneficiaries. The evaluation has produced a practical and insightful toolkit that will support organisations to shape their future support services and to continue to tackle loneliness in the Armed Forces community in innovative and effective ways.”

Read the report

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust's Tackling Loneliness Programme Cover

Click the image to download the report

The Tackling Armed Forces Loneliness Evaluation Report is now available on the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust website along with an Impact Gallery featuring quotes and interesting snippets from the funded projects.

Here, you can also find out more on the Tackling Loneliness programme, including a full list of awarded projects and mentors, as well as opportunities to get involved and learn more about the Tackling evaluation.

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