The Advocacy People
The Advocacy People
The Advocacy People received a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust of £19,439 as part of the Local Grants Programme. The grant funded their “Military Integration and Training” project which was held in 2018 – 2019. The project aimed to provide specialist support for veterans in the Devon and Torbay area by organising integration events and awareness training for the veteran community’s employers and civilian frontline delivery staff working with veterans.
16 Veteran Awareness training events were held across the region in Plymouth, Tavistock, Torbay, Newton Abbot, and Exeter, with over 160 participants benefiting from the sessions. Any organisation in the area could sign up to receive the free training, and housing providers, veteran support charities, the NHS and local councils were all very keen to engage. Each training session focused on the specific needs of the veteran in a civilian employment setting, and the aim of was to deliver the content in a light, humorous way, without detracting from any meaning.
Focusing on how veterans’ lives are socially constructed while they are in the Armed Forces, the course offered civilian employers an insight into the professional mindset of a veteran, and why they might think or act a certain way in the workplace.
Kevin Bunt, a senior advocate for the Plymouth office, and himself a Royal Navy veteran delivered the training for the majority of the sessions funded by the Trust grant. He explained the importance of the training and how it gave an insight into the former life of a veteran and how it affects their civilian career once they have left the Armed Forces:
“When you are in the military, your life is socially constructed – you become almost institutionalised. This social impact affects your entire life and can explain the difficulties that veterans have in adjusting to civilian life outside the Armed Forces. During the training we talk about that social impact; the language that veterans use (which can differ between services) and even the nicknames they have for each other.”
Kevin said that The Advocacy People had received “positive feedback” from the training course, and in fact one local employer found it “illuminating, and it now influences the way that we as an employer engage with veterans”.
Although delivered to many organisations, the project worked closely with Teignbridge Borough Council, aligning with their Armed Forces Covenant statement that “veterans and mental health do not equal PTSD”. By this, the training aimed to move organisations away from a commonly held belief that “all” veterans must have been to Iraq or Afghanistan or have experienced conflict or war in some manner. In this way, the focus on PTSD and “debunking the myths and assumptions” that people have surrounding veterans and mental illness were discussed and realised by course delegates in a safe and supportive manner.
Due to the success of the training course, The Advocacy People hoped to deliver a further 6 sessions across Torbay and Plymouth as the demand from employers was there. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these have been put on hold for the foreseeable future. It is felt that it is important to deliver these training courses in a face to face medium, so it is hoped that the organisation will be able to re-engage with their training courses once restrictions and funding allows.