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Support for Armed Forces Communities

Support for Armed Forces Communities

East London NHS Foundation Trust has signed the Armed Forces Covenant to show our commitment as an organisation towards our Armed Forces Communities and in particular UK Armed Forces Veterans. We have been acredited as a  Veteran Aware trust by the Veterans Health Care Alliance (VHCA) in recognition of our commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the Armed Forces and their families.

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This page provides up-to-date information about the work the Trust is doing via its Veterans Alliance forum to provide employment opportunities, care and treatment, and equality initiatives for our Veterans and their families. It includes organisations that provide a wide range of services for the Armed Forces Community. For more information regarding the Trust's Veterans Alliance please contact the Veterans’ Clinical Lead

Ryan & dog

Veteran aware

Op Courage

Bronze award armed forces covenant

Armed Forces Covenant

A UK Armed Forces Veteran is defined as any individual aged 16+ who has previously served at least one day in the UK Armed Forces. The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the Government and the armed forces.
It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to current and previous members of the armed forces and their families and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.

The covenant's two principles are; the armed forces community should not face disadvantage compared to other citizens and should enjoy the same standard of, and access to, healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live. Veterans receive their healthcare from the NHS, and should receive priority treatment where it relates to a condition which results from their service in the Armed Forces, subject to clinical need.

Dr David Bridle - Chief Medical Officer and Veterans Management -
Jane Kelly – Clinical Lead for Recovery / Veteran Clinical Lead -
Sharon Deans - Armed Forces Champion

"It is essential that as an organisation we recognise Veterans and ensure that this is reflected within the work we do.
If you are a Veteran and are receiving services from East London Foundation Trust please ask the member of staff you see to ensure they tick the box under additional personal information.”

Jane Kelly

We would like to ask for your help in completing a short survey to determine staff awareness of Veterans and their needs. Click Here to complete the questionnaire.

Mental Health Support

Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service 
A specialist service for those who have served in the regular armed forces or as a reservist in the British Military and their families. The service provides crisis and intensive support for veterans across Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.
> Leaflet
> Referral form
> Information for professionals


The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is the new name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The new name has been developed following feedback from veterans and their families to make it easier for those leaving the military and veterans to find help.

What will happen when you contact Op COURAGE:

To make sure you get the right care and support, you will first have an assessment by someone who understands the specific needs of the Armed Forces community.

The service offers a range of treatment, which includes:

•     working with Defence Medical Services to make sure you get mental health care and support as you transition from the military to civilian life

•     recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing care and treatment for this

•     therapeutic treatment for more advanced mental health conditions and psychological trauma

•     intensive emergency care and treatment if you’re in a crisis

•     helping you to access other NHS services if needed, such as psychological therapies (IAPT) services and eating disorder services

•    working with charities and local organisations to support you with your wider health and wellbeing needs, such as housing, relationships, finances, employment, drug and alcohol misuse and social support.

For more information, visit the NHS website at

Together All (previously BIG WHITE WALL) online mental health support

The Ripple Pond for families supporting those with a diagnosis of PTSD, for example


The Poppy Factory

  • The Poppy Factory’ mission is to support veterans with health conditions on their journey into employment and to continue supporting them whatever challenges they may face.
  • Four out of five of the veterans we work with report a mental health condition. Whatever their situation, and whatever they are going through, our employability team is on hand to offer one-to-one support.
  • Our service is veteran-centred and helps people of all ages, including many over 50. The men and women we support move into a diverse range of jobs across dozens of different sectors, from logistics and construction to the charity sector and health care.

The Poppy Factory has been supporting wounded, injured and sick veterans for nearly 100 years. Clients can self-refer by filling out an online form, calling 020 8939 1837 or by emailing

Walking with the Wounded (WWTW)
WWTW supports a pathway for vulnerable veterans to re-integrate back into society and sustain their independence. At the heart of this journey is employment.

Triforces Recruitment
Tel: 0121 262 3058 or email

Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme

Veterans’ Gateway
Veterans’ Gateway is made up of a consortium of Armed Forces charities, including The Royal British Legion, SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, Poppyscotland, Combat Stress and Connect Assist. Our connection with additional key referral organisations - both within and outside the Armed Forces sector - means we can get you to the right organisation who can help.

Forces Connect mobile app
The Forces Connect app is designed to link users in four easy clicks to organisations offering help, support and services across a wide range of needs. The app is free and aimed at all of the Armed Forces community – serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families – as well as a useful resource for frontline public services staff.

Holistic Support

The Royal British Legion
Contact centre 7 days per week 8am-8pm. Tel: 0808 802 8080.
Support available for: Care and independent living, physical and mental wellbeing, financial and employment support, local community connections and housing support.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and Families Association
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. A trusted source of support for those currently serving in the British Armed Forces (regulars or reserves), veterans and their families. Helpline open weekdays 9am-5pm. Tel: 0800 260 6767

Royal Air Force Association
Tel: 0800 018 2361


Veterans Aid
Tel: Freephone 0800 012 6867 or landline 0207 828 2468


Turn2 Us

Employment Support for female veterans and spouses, partners, and ex-partners

RFEA Military Womens Programme
This programme provides a high touch for individuals who have been out of the labour market for some time and who have a lack of self-esteem and self-belief.  It is an empowering service that enables women back to a successful career path

RFEA Families Programme
RFEA’s Families Employment Programme supports civilian spouses and partners of serving and ex-Forces personnel on their journey into employment.
Their dedicated Advisors are spouses; they understand. They provide one to one advice and guidance, employability and employment support including bespoke career and training diagnostics, CV and application assistance, interview techniques, coaching and mentoring, links to local business and RFEA’s extensive database of nationwide employers.

Recruitment for Spouses

The Liquid Workforce
The Liquid Workforce provides an opportunity for all military spouses to work in an agile and flexible way that fits seamlessly into military life and provides the massively positive benefits of getting back into employment and earning money. 

Recruitment for Spouses_Coaching Programme
Military and veteran spouses and partners have access to six FREE  1-to-1 coaching sessions which helps them to focus on a specific set of goals within a specified time.  It is designed to help individuals discover what truly motivates them and to identify their barriers to support them in goal setting for their future.

Recruitment for Spouses_Mentoring Programme
RFS also have a FREE mentoring programme which is focussed on the personal and professional development of military and veteran spouses and partners over a longer timeframe than the coaching programme.

Other free RFSservices include:

  • Self-study- (Digital Marketing Masterclass and Virtual Assistant Online Course)
  • Facebook (a closed group that enables women to connect with one another and share their experiences
  • Online events

Hi, I'm Chris and I’ve always been interested in aircraft, and the numerous trips to air shows and my time spent in the Air Cadets meant that joining the Royal Airforce (RAF) seemed the most logical thing to do when I left school.

I served for nine years from 1980 – 1989, initially as a Flight Line Mechanic at RAF Marham, working on Victor tankers (air to air refuelling) and then as a Jet propulsion Technician at RAF Watisham on Phantom Jets as part of the UK air defence.

As a young man the military provided me with everything I needed: interesting work, comradeship, discipline, a decent wage (fairly), travel to exciting places in the world, and all with 3 square meals and a bed thrown in.

I went on frequent detachments abroad, including Cyprus, Italy, The USA and Ascension Island during the Falklands War in 1982. Safe from exposure to the worst realities of war, my memories were of working long shifts, cold food, shared tents with little chance of sleep (snoring), sweltering heat, sunstroke, and the ever-present flies.

My service period was also during the Cold War, which saw heightened tensions between the West and the Soviet Union. I recall staff leaving the service, only to return a few months later, as they felt unable to cope with their experiences of civilian life.

After nine years I decided that it was time for a change and as I approached the end of my service, I was supported with a resettlement course. I chose to take my Heavy Goods Vehicle license, which provided me with a marketable skill and meant I could at least earn and support myself.

In the years before I left, I was living off base, had links to the local community and interests outside of the military. I think this strategy paid off, as I could see options outside of the military and therefore, I had fewer concerns than some of the staff I’d seen a similar situation.

It took a while to acclimatise to the new landscape, to understand and navigate my way through civilian systems and services i.e. registering with a GP and Dentist. The cost of dental treatment came as a bit of shock too, as it had been free in the RAF!

I was living on my own at the time, and overnight I went from a well-paid, team-based job to a low paid solitary one. I wasn’t fully prepared for this loss of contact and found the solitude and isolation challenging at times.

On reflection, although I had no further contact with the RAF once I’d left, I feel I would certainly have benefited from a wider community of support to ease my transition into civilian life. For this reason, I became involved with the ELFT Armed Forces Community and one of its key objectives of raising staff awareness about health and social needs of veterans and their families using our services.

I’d urge staff to check out the Armed Forces Community tab on the ELA homepage for more information on the subject. There are links to resources, a questionnaire to help us better understand current levels of awareness, and a comprehensive e-learning activity covering the all the key areas.

Chris Tyson Photo


I’m Sharon an Army Veterans wife currently living in Dorset with my husband and 3 of our 5 children.  I joined the project after a telephone call with the lead Jane Kelly, where she invited me and gave me confidence to become one of the voices for the Armed Forces Veterans Community. I started the role on a voluntary basis and have since become a paid member of ELFT which made me feel even more valued. 

Within the military community I have been a volunteer Youth and Community worker for many years with the Army Welfare Service and other agencies.  I am also a volunteer for The Ripple Pond and a volunteer with the Military Wives Choirs, all of these are part of the reasoning alongside my family for being in this project.

I have been part of the ELFT team for over 2 years and am extremely proud and grateful to work alongside everyone. Seeing how far the project has come from our initial meetings to gaining and keeping The Veterans HealthCare Alliance Accreditation as well as the Silver Defence Employment Recognition Award.

My confidence has grown and I have received incredible support throughout my journey with the team. I was given the opportunity to learn about Quality Improvement on multiple courses and also have ongoing support and training.  I have worked alongside CAMHS on a project and spoken at multiple meetings about the impact of military life on the families. From the very beginning I have always made it known that I am passionate about the families voice being heard alongside the veterans.  My role as an Armed Forces Veteran Community Champion within ELFT enables me to do this and so much more.

Sharon family photo

Hi, my name is Glynis and I am a veteran’s wife.  I work as an Armed Forces and Veterans’ Champion within ELFT, supporting the NHS and Armed Forces personnel and veterans, their families and carers, to be more aware of mental and physical health care, in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, to ensure that the NHS can meet the needs of this community.  I have been in this role for around 2 years.  My work is varied.  I help to inform on the design and delivery of services and work on quality improvement.  I attend regular team meetings, research, meet people, and I talk and listen to others’ stories too.  Everyone has their own story and those stories are wide and varied, but there are a lot of things that are common to all the stories too, and through those stories we learn the best way to support, and can signpost to relevant colleagues.

I have lived experience through being married into the RAF.  I was employed by the NHS when I met Alan.  We had our first date in January followed by a whirlwind romance and he proposed just two and a half months later.  He then went away for the summer, returning in October, and we married in November. In 12 years we went through 5 postings, plus there were quite a few deployments, which meant I was often running solo with the children.  We have two children who are now grown up, and two grandchildren.

I have done voluntary work with the Padre, supporting other wives, some of whom were away from their own families for the first time, having just married into the RAF, with everything being new to them.  I have also volunteered with the children’s play group, and later with youth group and several voluntary posts within the NHS, including becoming the chairman of a patient participation group.  I am also a member of the Military Wives Choir, which is a charity and support network as well as a choir,  that has become a part of the community. 

The work at East London NHS Foundation Trust for this community is tremendously important and I am proud to be involved.  I hope that my lived experience will help, as will everything I continue to learn.


Hi my name is Nicole, I am a Veteran and served in the British Army. My military trade was in the Adjutant General’s Corps, Staff Personnel Support. Within this branch, I ensured that military personnel were ready to be deployed at short notice, managing their personal information, finances, and general administrative support to get the mission done. I had a fantastic time serving in the army, enduring lots of training and adventure. I also had the opportunity to support British Amateur boxing, officiating at numerous competitions as a Boxing Judge / Timekeeper.


I currently work at Newham CAMHS as a People Participation Worker. My role is working with children, young people and their families who are presenting with a range of mental health challenges. I engage with young people in meaningful discussions about their lived experience of mental health, NHS support and access, to empower their voices to design and deliver positive change in our health service. I am enthusiastic to be part of the National Health Service workforce that delivers the best possible mental health support and intervention for all our service users. I believe that Veterans are an integral part of the NHS workforce as we have great transferable skills and our immense lived experiences. Veterans employed in any organisation bring a lot to the table, displaying their adaptability to their environment, being a resourceful and valuable team member with a wide wealth of knowledge and great leadership qualities.


I am proud to be part of East London Foundation Trust, one of many NHS Trusts embracing and supporting the Armed Forces Covenant providing the best care possible and recruiting Veterans into the health service as they transit from serving our country into adaptable healthcare roles serving our communities. Team ELFT = Team Veterans!

ELFT's covenant and pledges
Armed Forces Community Newsletter 1