New Research To Investigate Poverty Within Armed Forces Community

Researchers from Northumbria University will work closely with SSAFA over two years.

A new study will investigate the issues of financial hardship and food poverty within the Armed Forces community.

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, and researchers from Northumbria University will work closely on the project.

Over a two-year period, the Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families Research and the Healthy Living Lab at Northumbria University will work with SSAFA and their volunteer network.

Together, they will collect and analyse anonymous data from serving personnel, veterans and their families from all three services.

"Financial hardship and food poverty has always been an issue for some within the Armed Forces community, but the data has never previously been collected and analysed so comprehensively," Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory, Chief Executive of SSAFA, said.

"The evidence-base of this research will enable us to ensure that we, and the various and organisations with whom we work closely, are able to plan and allocate future projects and resources even more effectively than before, something that is very timely given the difficulties many are likely to face as a result of the pandemic and its effect on global and national economies."

The Director of the Northumbria University's Healthy Living Lab, Professor Greta Defeyter, said the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on "deepening inequalities and food poverty" across the country.

"The issue of food poverty in the veteran population has often been overlooked and never properly studied on this scale," she added.

The research is partly funded by a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust after they identified a need for evidence to identify future need and funding models across the forces community.

This is the next step in research and it is the direct result of the impact of the collaborative Map of Need project, which analyses data from across the NHS and charities within the Armed Forces sector.

The Map of Need project has provided the veterans' sector and the Government with a health and social care overview of former and serving personnel and their families.

"Through the Map of Need project the team at Northumbria have established data sharing agreements with the main charities within the veterans’ sector as well as the NHS," Dr Matt Kiernan, Director of the Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families Research at Northumbria University.

"We analyse this anonymised data to provide Government and the wider veterans’ sector with a health and social care observatory of the veterans and military families community.

"As a direct result of this collaborative effort, the Map of Need has identified that financial hardship is a significant, yet little considered, issue within the veterans’ community.

"This new study will look in greater depth at financial hardship and food poverty within this community across the whole of the UK."

The proposed data collection methods have been designed to ensure minimal impact on the beneficiaries during the initial steps they would normally go through to during SSAFA's caseworking process.

SSAFA supports the welfare needs of over 85,000 veterans, service personnel and their families.

More than 41,000 cases and visits were completed in local communities across the United Kingdom in 2019 alone.