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5 May 2023

Veterans' Supporter Sharon named Family Volunteer of the Year

A military wife who works tirelessly to improve NHS care for veterans and promote employment opportunities for ex-forces personnel has received a prestigious national award, writes Nell Ward Warren.
Sharon Deans pictured at the awards evening

Sharon Deans, an ELFT Armed Forces Community Champion, has been named Family Volunteer of the Year at the annual Celebrating Forces Families awards. 

The awards celebrate UK armed forces families for their contribution, achievements and success in the life of the armed forces community. 

The awards evening is organised by members of the MoD Partner Employment Working Group - a group of like-minded military organisations working together to support the armed forces community. 

Sharon has supported the Trust over more than two years by sharing her insight and experience gained as a military wife, Army Welfare Service volunteer and member of the Military Wives Choir. 

“This is such deserving recognition of someone who dedicates her time to the welfare and care of others,” said Jane Kelly, ELFT’s Armed Forced Community Clinical Lead. 

“Sharon has been a member of the ELFT Armed Forces Alliance from the very beginning and ensures all we do is co-produced with the wider armed forces family.” 

Sharon said the award made her feel proud and humbled. 

“I don't do it for the recognition, that's never been a thing for me,” she said. 

“I do it because to give something back after being given so much within the organisations I volunteer for genuinely makes my heart happy. To know that a simple act can make a difference to someone is the greatest reward of all for me."

Improving care and opportunities for veterans 

Sharon has completed her Improvement Leaders’ Programme and now actively participates in the Trust’s Triple Aim armed forces project. 

The Trust has signed up to be part of the Armed Forces Covenant, demonstrating its commitment to ensure the armed forces members and their families have equity of access to government and commercial services as the rest of the population. 

To work towards this, a Quality Improvement (QI) project was started that employs the Triple Aim approach to simultaneously tackle improvements in outcomes, experience of care and value for money for armed forces members and their families in the communities the Trust serves. 

The project has been organised around the purpose of ‘working together in partnership, to build health and social opportunities for veterans and their families’. 

It has achieved milestones including supporting the employment of veterans, increase staff awareness of unique needs for members of the armed forces and recognition of ELFT as a Veteran Aware Trust by the Veterans Health Care Alliance (VHCA). 

Veterans Project: A carer reflects on her QI journey

Veterans and Triple Aim: Building Social Opportunities for the Veterans Community