This award honours a person, team or organisation that has demonstrated an enduring commitment and a collaborative approach, engaging with external organisations to support the sector within the wider community.
Once again, this award is generously sponsored by Forces in Mind Trust, a charity that provides an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives. The organisation also awards grants that aim to improve the transition process for Veterans and their families.
You can read more about the Forces in Mind Trust here.
“Recognizing and promoting the extraordinary potential of the Armed Forces community is a key element of Forces in Mind Trust’s work, so we are very proud to support an award for those who have demonstrated an enduring commitment and a collaborative approach to supporting the sector within the wider community. The three finalists for the Forces in Mind Trust Working Together Award have all done remarkable things in this context, and they rightly deserve recognition for their superb work.”
Tom McBarnet, Director of Programmes, Forces in Mind Trust
The Finalists for the FiMT Working Together Award are:
Charnwood, Melton and Rushcliffe Borough Councils Partnership
In 2017, Charnwood, Melton (Leicestershire) and Rushcliffe (Nottinghamshire) Borough Councils (CMR) decided to work together to improve services and policies for the Armed Forces community, including employees and residents with a military connection.
The partnership trains and supports external partners to make wider improvements to meet the needs of the Armed Forces community in their areas. They have multiple Information Hubs to support Veterans at risk of isolation, linking them to the welfare and charity support available to them. This ensures that no one suffers any form of disadvantage.
“This partnership is a force to be reckoned with, combining staff with subject matter expertise and service experience with absolute determination to embed tangible changes across all local advice, support and health related agencies.”
CMR’s policies include Veterans’ guaranteed interview schemes, additional leave for employees who are reservists and cadet force leaders and assurance that there will be no disadvantage through housing policies. The team has trained over 50 housing and customer service staff to better support the Armed Forces, as well as training and supporting more than 100 external partners, including the Job Centre, GP surgeries, other councils, universities and charities. In this way the wider network can provide support with issues including homelessness, mental resource libraries and Armed Forces Champions networks.
The partnership has supported the relocation of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre to Stanford Hall with community engagement, support to service families and volunteering and a community transport service allowing patients access to activities and events that support their recovery.
“An exemplar advocate of support for the full range of Defence people, unique in local government in the East Midlands.”
Forces Connect South East
Forces Connect South East (FCSE) is a cross-border partnership of local councils, NHS, reserve organisations, cadets and charities.
Led by Surrey County Council, FCSE is an excellent example of collaboration, promoting awareness of the issues affecting the Armed Forces community by training almost 7000 people working within public services, not only across the South East, but nationally.
The partnership has ensured that the Armed Forces Covenant within public sector organisations is now embedded in the way they work with the Military, substantially reducing the risk of disadvantage for access to public services such as schools, health and housing. Its respected national toolkit makes its training resources available to all UK local authorities to enable them to embed the Covenant into their day to day practice. This ensures that councils now have a good understanding of the needs of the Armed Forces in order to provide improved access and signposting for advice and guidance.
“An example to all of what can be done by just getting the right people together and a common purpose – getting it right for veterans.”
The partnership has enabled its members to pool resources and ideas, resulting in them exceeding targets and achieving all project outcomes. Online information and referral pathways, plus the provision of the ‘Forces Connect’ ‘App – with over 8000 downloads – have been extremely well received.
“An independent evaluation has revealed that over 90% of staff trained said the training significantly increased their knowledge and understanding of the armed forces community and their needs.”
Sussex, Kent & Medway Armed Forces Network Team
The Sussex and Kent & Medway Armed Forces Network (AFN) makes sure people with a Forces background can access support and get help on issues ranging from physical or mental health, housing or employment, welfare or social needs. NHS-led, its members include the MoD, police, local authorities, reservists, cadets and charities.
The Armed Forces Networks have worked tirelessly for the past eight years to ensure first class training and connectivity to the Armed Forces community in the South East. Together, they improve the lives of the whole Armed Forces community, ensuring inclusion for everyone. They act as knowledge hubs, with information and support provided through dedicated websites, plus training, awareness-raising events, and community engagement. 1-1 support is also provided, along with drop-in sessions and larger gatherings.
“There are now over 1000 Service Champions from a wide range of organisations and disciplines who now have the skills and knowledge to support the community with complex issues.”
The networks work with professionals to commission or deliver services with ‘how to guides’, factsheets and pathways. Ongoing training, leadership and collaborative work allows the system to provide seamless AF-friendly support across sectors. It focuses on the whole community and all needs, rather than just one aspect. The AFN takes a holistic approach to the support provided to serving personnel, Veterans, families and carers.
These networks work tirelessly to raise awareness of the support available and improve the lives of the military community. Their training and resources have been adopted and rolled out nationally.
“They are a shining example of excellent practice and are considered to be experts in their field.”
Many of our outstanding Finalists are being featured in local press, so keep an eye out for them and feel free to share on social media – tagging us too please.
You can see our full list of Finalists in each category here.
To see the impressive roster of Soldiering On Awards independent judges who had the difficult task of selecting this year’s Finalists, click here.