Tony and Lou Jennings for Employability Day

Ex-Forces families will be the focus of new employment support project

Dan Hodges General

Tony and Lou Jennings

The new Families project funding will enable The Poppy Factory to offer employment support to veterans’ partners and family members, such as Lou Jennings, wife of former soldier Tony.

Family members who care for veterans with health conditions will be offered targeted support to boost their ability to move into employment.

Adults who support others in the ex-Forces community will be the focus of the pilot project, which is being developed by employment charity The Poppy Factory with funding awarded by The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Specialist consultants will provide a personalised service to family members, helping them overcome barriers in order to take up new opportunities in employment, volunteering and training.

The service will launch in 2023 and will run for two years initially. It has been designed in collaboration with family specialists The Ripple Pond, which will offer wraparound support for families involved in the project.

Debbie Boughtflower, Director of Operations at The Poppy Factory, said: “Caring for a partner or loved one who is unwell affects the entire family. Through our work with the ex-Forces community, it’s clear that many adult family members now caring for veterans with health conditions would themselves benefit greatly from focused employment support. Lack of confidence, loss of identity, trauma and acute mental health conditions are just some of the issues they might face, and these barriers often go unreported and untreated.

“This important new funding from The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust will enable us to help this unique group for the first time. We are delighted to be working closely with The Ripple Pond, whose expertise will help design and deliver a support package that will enable family members to overcome barriers and unlock their employment potential. With the right support, they will develop the tools and resilience to thrive in the workplace, becoming less isolated and enjoying greater financial independence, improved wellbeing and a new sense of purpose and contribution.”

Rodger Cartwright, Director of The Ripple Pond, said: “Life seems to be getting ever more challenging and, at The Ripple Pond and The Poppy Factory, we have recognised this and are collaborating to deliver a new employment support project. As two very agile and effective charities who genuinely listen to and respond to those we serve, our coming together on this project is something quite unique and special.

“Specifically, this new initiative is designed to support and empower family members who are supporting physically, emotionally, or psychologically injured British Armed Forces personnel and veterans, by offering them the opportunity and support to find employment – or to improve their current employment situation – in a new and unique way. We are all excited to work together, sharing extensive experience and adapting to meet the needs of the service users – and are committed to delivering this service to the highest standards.”

Sonia Howe, Director of Policy and Communications at The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, said: “We are thrilled to have supported so many great projects through the first round of our Reaching and Supporting Armed Forces Communities programme. The priority for us was to target hidden or compelling needs that have emerged and we are eager to see the positive changes and improvements these awards will bring.”

Further details of the service will be published in spring 2023.