London’s diverse ex-Forces community will be offered more connected support through a new partnership that unites organisations working with veterans who have mental health needs.
Funded by The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, London Veterans Partnership will enable veterans to overcome personal barriers by offering joined-up support and opportunities.
The partnership is part of the Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People programme, which provides grants to ensure places of safety and pathways of support across the UK. It is being led in London by The Poppy Factory, which supports veterans with health conditions into employment.
As portfolio holder, The Poppy Factory will coordinate partnership activity and distribute project funding to other partners. Working together, these organisations will offer a full range of support to enhance the wellbeing of Londoners who have served, helping them achieve positive outcomes.
Nearly £800,000 in funding will be distributed to nine partners to support the capital’s ex-Forces community over a two-year period. Partners include First Light Trust, Fighting with Pride, Community Drug & Alcohol Recovery Services, Stoll, Company of Makers, Defence Medical Welfare Service, The Ripple Pond, Positive Adventure and The Fighting Chance.
Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said:
“Veterans living in London will know that our capital can offer many unique opportunities. And yet without an effective support network, life here can be difficult and challenging. Our new partnership seeks to address that by joining forces to ensure veterans have access to the places, pathways and people that will enable them to flourish after service.
“Having supported veterans in London for 100 years, The Poppy Factory is well placed to serve as portfolio holder for the programme. We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate more closely with new and existing partners, all committed to the overarching aim of providing a better, more joined up, service to London’s diverse ex-Forces community.”
Partners will work together and with veterans to ensure they have access to safe, welcoming places, including physical spaces in London and within the digital world.
They will help veterans access mental health support and treatment pathways that meet their individual needs. Partners will work together to open up support for groups who may feel underrepresented, including those from minority backgrounds, women veterans, members of the LGBT+ community and others.
London Veterans Partnership will also ensure that the people who work with veterans in London, including staff and volunteers, have access to good quality training so they can connect veterans to wider pathways of support.
Portfolio members will use the funding from The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to deliver a wide range of activity to support veterans in London.
London Veterans Partnership
The Poppy Factory will help to coordinate activity across the partnership, bringing partners together to improve support for the ex-Forces community. Veterans will have access to its specialist employment service, which provides one-to-one support to help them overcome barriers on their journey towards employment.
First Light Trust will launch a London café hub, providing easy, street-level access to veterans without stigma. It will follow the model of the trust’s five existing café hubs across the UK, where qualified support workers and activity coordinators are on hand to support veterans and make referrals.
Fighting with Pride will work with organisations in London to adopt its new Pride in Veterans Standard, which includes training and resources around support for LGBT+ veterans. It will actively reach out to LGBT+ veterans who may feel lonely and isolated, working to create safe spaces where they connect with others who have similar lived experience.
Community Drug & Alcohol Recovery Services will build on its existing mental health and life support for veterans, primarily in south-west London with outreach to other areas. Veterans will receive tailored, structured support to improve mental health and reduce suicide risk, and longer-term support to enhance their life through activities.
Stoll, which provides housing and support services for veterans in London, will work with partners to offer veterans access to its health and wellbeing programme with activities such as archery, tai chi, boxing and gardening. Following a successful 12-month pilot, it will work with The Poppy Factory to launch the Navigator Programme, supporting veterans with complex mental health needs to find meaningful activity that supports positive mental health and wellbeing and increases independence.
Company of Makers will offer a range of digital-led activities to encourage, engage and inspire members of the Armed Forces community to unleash their artistic potential, supporting wellbeing through photography, writing, drawing and creative journaling. Its workshops are designed to reduce loneliness, isolation and improve wellbeing, with low barriers to entry – all veterans need is their phone, or any camera and access to the internet.
Defence Medical Welfare Service will embed a new medical welfare officer in Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust to provide a listening ear, support referrals to other organisations and assist with each individual’s presenting issues. Solutions will be person-centred and enduring. Findings from the project will be shared with other hospitals within London.
The Ripple Pond will provide peer-led support for unpaid carers supporting loved ones who have been physically or psychologically injured during service, helping veterans’ family members and partners to increase their awareness, skills and abilities as carers and building improved resilience and wellbeing.
Positive Adventure will create opportunities for veterans in London to take part in regular outdoor hiking expeditions to promote positive physical and mental wellbeing. Led by a qualified walk leader, the walks are inclusive to all and help participants improve their self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.
The Fighting Chance will provide a programme of non-contact boxing training, advocacy, mentoring support, social events and outdoor activities. The boxing training is inclusive and designed for people of all abilities – the participation of veterans’ families is actively encouraged. Veterans will also have opportunities to access individual support, get practical help with training and employment and be part of a wider veteran support group.