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Current Projects

Developing a Network to Reduce Isolation in the LGBT+ Veterans Community

Little is known of the LGBT+ Veterans community.  It is believed by those closest to this community that many may live in the poverty, poor health and have endured trauma.  However, there is no evidence base to support this hypothesis.  Outreach, community building and research of support needs were not attempted during the years of the ban or since. 

Connections between LGBT+ Veteran community members are fragmented.  Fighting With Pride is the only organisation with an expert lived experience LGBT+ Veterans team of professionals capable of building this network on any scale and with impact that can change lives.  Because little is known of the needs of this community or the extent to which needs are met, navigation between pathways to access support will also be considered.

This project aims to:

  • Establish a network of support for Veterans from LGBT+ community.
  • incorporate an evidence-based approach to future development
  • Focus on needs-led responses to supporting members by identifying effective methods of engaging Veterans who feel socially isolated and look to provide solutions where barriers exist.

Developing a holistic intervention to reduce loneliness in veterans who have been treated for PTSD

The aim of this project is to develop and design a post-clinical treatment intervention for PTSD diagnosed veterans who are experiencing ongoing loneliness and social isolation.

This project will be in two main phases;

Phase 1 (scheduled to run between January 2021- March 2022) Creates an evidence base for the model of intervention by exploring experiences of loneliness. The project will undertake semi-structured interviews with 20 veterans who have been treated for PTSD and are experiencing loneliness.

Phase 2 (scheduled to run between April 2022 – March 2023) consists of a one-day workshop involving service users and commissioners within the wider sector (NHS, Charities etc) alongside expertise from the wider field, and placing those most affected at the heart of designing a self-benefiting intervention.

These two phases will be followed by a legacy phase, which seeks to facilitate an effective and sustainable roll out of the designed intervention into military, veteran and non-military communities.


The Map of Need platform sits at the heart of the UK governments veteran single point of contact initiative, Veterans’ Gateway. The web platform and its complimentary apple and android mobile apps enable veterans; their families, health and social care professionals, as well as those working in military charities, to access a directory of all quality assured services available to veterans across the UK. There are currently over 16,000 veteran and military family specific services mapped including employment, families and communities, finances, housing, legal support, local government support, and mental wellbeing. The platform empowers users to determine the most appropriate service or advice for their situation, and therefore empowers them to self-manage their situation. Built into the platform is an anonymised passive data capture capability that enables the observation of what service user are looking for and from which region in the UK.

The Map of Need has been successful in identifying significant problems within the UK veteran population through the geospatial analysis from existing service usage data. So far, we have signed data sharing agreements with 14 stakeholders across the UK. Future service usage can then be assessed through trend analysis. This method of passive data collection allows a continual stream of reports into government, and the wider sector (through open access reporting), ensuring that a macro level observatory function is delivered. In addition, using passive data collection techniques reduces the instance of research fatigue on what is generally a small but vitally important population.

Suicide Among the Armed Forces Veteran Population: Understand-Identify-Prevent

This project will be undertaken in four phases and aims to reduce suicide among the Armed Forces veteran population.  The research team will co-produce a veteran-specific model of safety and intervention for those identified as at highest risk of suicide.  The project has been designed in collaboration with military families who have been bereaved by suicide through a series of pre-study focus groups (facilitated and managed by For the Fallen, Community Interest Company).

The project team intends to work with 30 families, recruited by For the Fallen, to understand the complex life events which lead to suicide. 

Aim and objectives include:

  • Establishing whether suicidal ideation in the serving Armed Forces and veteran population is any different to that of the general population and, if so, identify why and explain how.
  • Co-production of an integrated model of safety which uses a multi-agency approach to identify, manage and reduce the risk of suicide.
  • Co-production of an intervention model to inform and assist existing mental health services across the UK to manage those at the highest risk of suicide.
  • Developing and providing access to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with a nationally recognised expert reference group of families who have experienced the loss of a serving or veteran family member through suicide.

The Baton Charity and For the Fallen CIC have worked alongside the research team in every aspect of the research design thus far and a key role of both the charities will be to provide support as an integral part of the project team for each member of every family taking part. Using a resilience-based framework.


Supporting the Emotional Health of Military Children and Young People: A Longitudinal Evaluation of Psychosocial Intervention Provided By SSOP

Research Team: Paul Watson (PI), Alison Osborne (SRA)
Støt Soldater & Pårørende

Military life can affect families in different ways, some negatively, with the majority of families having positive experiences. The effect of military life, the subsequent transition from the armed forces, and parental poor mental health may cause emotional turbulence to children and young people. With a reported national increase of poor mental health of children and young people, this research will explore the impact a veteran parent with mental health issues or PTSD has on a children and young people’s emotional health, their activities of daily living and their relationship with the parent. We are acutely aware of the potential life limiting effects living with a parent with mental health issues or PTSD has on children and young people’s health, well-being, and academic attainment. Therefore, it is vital to understand how SSOP’s psychosocial interventions and individual support initiatives have impacted on the young person’s overall health and well-being, in promoting emotional growth and positive outcomes.

Research Aims: To critically investigate over a four-year period, the impact of participation within SSOP service provision, and any additional, individually adapted support children and young people receive through SSOP. Moreover, this service evaluation will measure service delivery from SSOP staff (input) and measure the overall emotional health and well-being of the young people (output) in veterans’ families who are supported by SSOP. 


  • To critically explore if parental mental health issues impact upon the emotional health of young people of veterans within families.
  • To identify and critically investigate if the psychosocial intervention, measured against the success pyramid provided by SSOP staff, has positively impacted on the mental health, decision making and abilities to build confidence, resilience, and self-esteem in the young person.
  • To privilege the voice of these young people in relation to their overall experience of individual support provided by SSOP.

In consultation with Durham/Dales Clinical Commissioning Group, The Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families Research Hub at Northumbria University engaged in a pilot project in 2019 to implement a social prescribing model for veterans and military families across the Durham Dales area (Tees, Esk and Wear Valley).

In parallel the NHS South West Integrated Personalised Care Team (SWIPC) have been developing a collaborative approach to supporting the armed forces community, based on the strength of what already exists, both within the NHS and through the many organisations and charities that support this group of people

Both areas found that whilst there is much opportunity within social prescribing for the armed forces community, there are also some key issues that need some development work to ensure it is ready to ‘spread and scale’. Among the social prescribing workforce, the understanding of both the Armed Forces Community and military charity sector resources available was very poor.

This two-year project has been funded to enhance and develop social prescribing for the Armed Forces and veteran community. This will include the development of a bespoke software application, developing Armed Forces social prescribing link worker roles and an educational package on social prescribing in the Armed Forces community for all social prescribers.

This work builds on the work already underway in Durham Dales CCG and the South West Integrated Personalised Care Programme and will focus on three areas:

  • Durham Dales
  • Cornwall
  • Dorset

The overall aim is to ‘test out’ a new approach to supporting the Armed Forces community through social prescribing, linking people in with support in their community based on what matters to them. If the project is successful, we will look at opportunities to ‘spread and scale’ the model across the UK

Exploring Military Widows’ Experiences of Social Isolation and Loneliness

Research Team: Dr Gemma Wilson-Menzfeld (PI), Dr Matthew Kiernan (Co-investigator), Dr Tracy Collins (Co-investigator), Mary Moreland (Co-investigator; RA), Amy Johnson (RA)
Start date: September 2020
End date: August 2022

This two-year study purposively aims to capture experiences of military widows irrespective of the circumstances surrounding their partner’s death.  Therefore, in this study, military widow(er)s are recognised as the partner of personnel who died whilst in service, or of a veteran who died following their military service. 

The project, developed by Northumbria University in collaboration with the War Widows Association, is funded by Forces in Mind Trust. The research team is working closely with the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Widows’ Association, Army Widows’ Association, and Royal Air Force Widows’ Association.

The study aims to map and understand war widows’ experiences, identify the social participation services available to them and examine their unmet needs, and will inform national debate and lead to the development of policy recommendations and guidance for service provision.

The study consists of three phases: a survey, individual interviews and a stakeholder workshop. The survey will aim to determine levels and experiences of loneliness and social isolation experienced by military widows. The individual interviews will provide a more in-depth understanding of experiences of social isolation and loneliness experienced by military widows, including available services and unmet needs of military widows. The findings from these two phases will be synthesised and will inform the stakeholder workshop with stakeholders from relevant organisations. The workshop will provide the opportunity to develop policy recommendations and guidance for service provision.

Conducting a programme of research with SSAFA into financial hardship and food insecurity within the Armed Forces Community.

Research conducted by Map of Need identified that financial hardship is a significant issue within the veterans’ community. The aim of this study is to investigate in greater depth financial hardship and food insecurity within this community.

Exploring and evaluating the War Widows in Touch ( programme

Research Team: Dr Gemma Wilson (PI), Jessica Gates (RA), Mary Moreland (RA)

Start date: 2020

End date: 2021

Loneliness and social isolation are both national areas of concern, with disappearing social networks and geographical dispersal being related to this. Members of the War Widows' Association (WWA) are spread throughout the UK and are at risk of loneliness. Widowhood, particularly in later life, is detrimental to health and well-being, and although social relationships are thought to assist in the management of widowhood, this is dependent on the quality and flexibility of ties as well as access to social support and participation. However, enabling individuals to use technology to connect with one another will enable improved social connections between members, and also improve connections with family and friends.

The project aims to connect war widow/ers at both a national and local level and build an online community. The project will provide some WWA members with iPads and/or iPad training. This will help to empower individuals to use iPads and to learn new skills to connect with others online. This project builds on the success of the award winning 'Project Semaphore', a project ran by the Royal Naval Association.

The project is being ran and handled by the War Widows Association. Northumbria University are involved in the evaluation of the project only. Specifically, this evaluation aims:

  • To reflect on the perceived facilitators and barriers to implementation of the intervention(s) from the perspective of participants and facilitators.
  • To examine the perceived impact of the intervention(s) from the perspective of participants and facilitators.
  • To map perceived changes to social isolation, loneliness, and well-being

The aim of this study is to understand and ascertain the impact that death, as a result of service, has on the surviving family. Specifically, it will focus on how casualty notification is undertaken, and the impact the current process used has on the long-term wellbeing of the family. In particular, the evaluation will examine:

  • What currently happens when there is a death of a service person which has been caused by their service?
  • What is the ‘deliverers’ role and what should their first step be?
  • What forms of interaction supports rather than constrains individuals from moving forward through their bereavement journey? How does the ‘deliverer’ gain a good understanding of individuals’ needs and recognise what is appropriate?
  • Does the form of interaction appear to change in relation to the recipients’ age, gender or their relationship to the deceased? Is the form of interaction influenced by set ideas about males and females?
  • How does environment impact on the delivery of the news? (For example, time, place.)
  • What is the impact of the ‘deliverers’ own experience and knowledge?

Who is carrying out this study?

Researchers at Northumbria University are carrying out this study, in partnership with the War Widows’ Association. This study was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

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