19th September 2016
E-FAN: a major new initiative to help veterans in Cheshire & Greater Manchester
The Ex-Forces Action Network (E-FAN), a major new initiative and the first of its kind anywhere in the UK, has been launched to help former service personnel in Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
E-FAN will connect veterans, who’ve had any contact with the Criminal Justice System (CJS), to a wide range of services tailored specifically for those who’ve served in the British Armed Forces. The project is funded by the MOD’s new Covenant Grant Fund, which itself forms part of the government’s long-term commitment to supporting projects designed to help veterans under the Armed Forces Covenant – the promise from the nation that those who serve or have served are treated fairly.
Cheshire and Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC) is responsible for delivering E-FAN in partnership with the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS).
Donna Yates, Assistant Chief Executive CGM CRC, said: “The government estimates that veterans make up around 3.5% of the prison population. That actually means that they are less likely to be offenders than members of the general public.
Nonetheless a sizable number of veterans do pass through the CJS and although there are significant resources available to help them a lack of awareness about how and where to access these services, and in some cases a reluctance to ask for help, can lead to some veterans missing out on potentially life changing assistance.
“For the first time this problem will be tackled head on in an integrated and comprehensive way.”
Neil Willis, an Interchange Manager at CGM CRC, leads the team charged with delivering the new service. Neil said: “E-FAN isn’t adopting ‘a one size fits all approach’ to the veterans we’re aiming to help.
“We recognise that former service personnel can find themselves coming into contact with the Criminal Justice System for a variety of reasons. Although it’s important to say that potential clients don’t have to have been in prison or sentenced to any kind of Court Order to receive our help, they just have to have had some contact with any part of the CJS.
“Like anyone else sometimes issues surrounding drink, drugs or debt may play a part in things going wrong in the lives of former service personnel. But all too often veterans can struggle to reintegrate into society when they leave the forces, leading to feelings of isolation and depression, which can exacerbate or even trigger serious problems.
But whatever the case veterans are individuals and that’s how were going to treat them, giving each an individual assessment, helping them to identify their strengths and needs and actively involving them in all aspects of creating their own unique action plan. Once this has been done we’ll pull together access to, and help from, the specialist services that best meet each veterans individual needs.
“For some this will also mean access to a number of entirely new opportunities specially created by E-FAN, which in some cases may include becoming a trained peer mentor or creating a Community Impact Project that will benefit the local community.”
“And for others this will mean help from our Welfare Officer, seconded from the DMWS, who will support clients in accessing health services, including mental health services.”
Trevor Edwards, Director of Operations at DMWS, said “We’re delighted to be working alongside CGM CRC in delivering E-FAN, which underpins the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant by ensuring that veterans are not disadvantaged in their clinical care and are provided with support and advocacy for either physical or mental health problems.
“We’ve been working with the British Armed Forces for more than 70 years and as a result we have a deep understanding of the challenges and barriers that veterans can face in terms of healthcare. This experience will help ensure that E-FAN services users will have access to the very best resources, expertise and advice to help them overcome these barriers and promote a swift return to health.”
Chris Edwards, the Chief Executive Officer for CGM CRC said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us and we’re both pleased and proud to have won the right to carry out such important and worthwhile work.
“Through our work in probation we have decades of experience in successfully helping people re-integrate into society. We relish deploying our knowledge and skills in the service of those who have served our country.
“We’re also looking forward to working in partnership with DMWS who, by supporting the health needs of our clients, will be providing valuable assistance in E-FAN’s efforts to help our service users move towards a more positive future.”