Si is one of the UK’s most experienced research organisations in exploring the experience of the armed forces community in their interactions with local public services and in the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant.

The Armed Forces Covenant was launched in 2012 following the Armed Forces Act 2011 with responsibility sitting across Government. It is “a promise by the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly.” It ensures that members of the Armed Forces Community “should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.”
The Armed Forces Community comprises:

  • Serving members of the Armed Forces, including Reservists;
  • Former serving members of the Armed Forces;
  • The spouses, partners and families of serving and former serving personnel.

Since 2016, we have worked with the Forces in Mind Trust to deliver a series of research projects around the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant. Our Community – Our Covenant focuses on the delivery of the Covenant in Councils across England, Scotland and Wales was published in August 2016, with a second edition published in 2017. These reports can be downloaded from the Forces in Mind Trust website.

In October 2018, Si were awarded with the Lord Ashcroft Research Award at the inaugural FiMT and Veterans and Families Research Hub Research Awards. This was awarded in recognition of the impact that Our Community – Our Covenant has had and is continuing to have in improving the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant in local government.

A third Our Community Our Covenant, entitled A Decade of the Covenant was published in December 2022, with this research focusing on the impact that the Covenant has had on reducing disadvantage.

This research is broader than our earlier work in three respects:

  1. We were asked to look at the impact of the Covenant as well as the delivery of it.
  2. The scope includes other service providers, including the NHS, as well as local government.
  3. The research covers the delivery of the Covenant in Northern Ireland as well as in England, Scotland and Wales.

We found that:

  1. Local government were taking the Covenant seriously, some more than others (which various factors influenced), and we recommended ways to capitalise on this appetite.
  2. We developed what we called the core infrastructure, which highlighted a number of key activities that councils could implement to help them deliver the Covenant, such as having a member and officer Armed Forces Champion and an action planning process.
  3. We developed some tools which were designed to help councils to think constructively about the implementation of their Covenant.

Alongside the above, we identified areas that could be improved upon at a national level which have been taken forward by central government’s Covenant Reference Group. This includes: clearer and more proactive communications on the Covenant and the expectations that flow from it; the encouragement of local partnerships; and the exploration into ways to improve the transition process.

In developing the recommendations, we worked collaboratively with local and national organisations to ensure that our evidence gathered led to recommendations that were implementable. This process enabled our recommendations to be addressed more effectively and has led to the research having the impact that it has been recognised for. This report can be accessed here

We have undertaken a number of other Armed Forces related projects at Si since 2016, including a fourth iteration of the Our Community – Our Covenant series. Other projects include:

  • Benefit not Burden for Forces in Mind Trust;
  • An action research set to understand the makeup and needs of the Armed Forces Community in the south west;
  • An evaluation of Forces Connect South East;
  • Research to understand the makeup and needs of the Armed Forces Community in North Yorkshire and York.
  • A project alongside RAND Europe for the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust looking to evaluate and support the Strengthening Delivery Programme for Local authorities.

If you have any questions or comments on any of our Armed Forces related work, please contact Tony Blake at tony.blake@sharedintelligence.net

(Si is a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant).

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