Veterans’ Places Pathways and People Programme: 2024-27 The Next Stage

As we embark on the next phase of this significant initiative, we reflect on our journey so far, the successes we’ve achieved, and the path ahead. In this blog, we will review VPPP’s progress so far and talk about what our future goals are in the East of England region.

Introduction to VPPP

VPPP, backed by a ÂŁ10 million grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, spans 10 UK regions, including the East of England. This two-year project, which started in 2022 and ran until early 2024, aimed to provide sustainable support for veterans through grants that fund safe spaces and support pathways by building collaboration. With ÂŁ797,000 allocated to the East of England, the programme covered Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Bedfordshire, and Milton Keynes, funding 11 crucial projects.

Achievements to Date

  1. Collaborative Growth: Over 50 new cross-sector collaborations have been established, enhancing the support network for veterans.
  2. Enhanced Mental Health Support: Initiatives such as social activities, drop-in centres, coffee meets, and online resources have improved mental health services.
  3. Increased Veteran Engagement: The programme has reached over 3,400 veterans, fostering greater community connection.
  4. Seamless Support Integration: There is now a smoother interface between statutory bodies and charity/not-for-profit organisations, improving service delivery.

Key Learnings from the East of England

The East of England, home to 200,482 veterans (3% of the population), presents unique challenges:

  • Demographics: 87% male, with a significant portion over 65 years old.
  • Geographical Spread: A large area with diverse urban and rural communities.
  • Administrative Complexity: Multiple councils and NHS Trusts, each with varied approaches to the Armed Forces Covenant.

The projects identified key issues in the East of England such as:

  • Loneliness and isolation: due to the aged population and geographical spread.
  • Housing and Financial Support: advice and assistance are needed.
  • Employment and Training: support needed for veterans transitioning to civilian life.
  • Mental and Physical health: support and assistance are needed, often for complex requirements.

Throughout the 2-year project we found that Veteran-Led Support is critical: Encourage veterans to help each other, fostering trust and engagement.

VPPP Next Stage

Challenges in Collaboration

Despite our successes, we still face several barriers:

  • Organisational Involvement: Multiple organisations can sometimes overwhelm a single veteran.
  • Funding Competition: Charities compete for limited resources.
  • Resistance to Change: Both individuals and organisations may resist new approaches.
  • Time-Restricted Funding: Often, funding periods end before initiatives are fully established.
  • Geographical and Trust Issues: Building trust and managing the vast geographical spread are ongoing challenges.

Future Plans: VPPP’s Next Stage

As we prepare for the next stage of the VPPP, the project will be split into three phases:

  1. Phase 1 (April 2024 - September 2024): Comprehensive consultation and strategic plan development.
  2. Phase 2 (October 2024 - June 2026): Strategic plan implementation.
  3. Phase 3 (July 2026 - March 2027): Transition and sustaining the established systems.

Programme Mission and Expected Outcomes

Our mission is to build sustainable and resilient networks ensuring veterans receive prompt, effective, and tailored support. We aim to:

  • Improve Help-Seeking Behaviour: Encourage veterans to seek help for mental and physical health issues.
  • Holistic Support: Offer comprehensive support to veterans and their families.
  • Reduce Stigma: Combat the stigma associated with mental health and seeking assistance.
  • Support Carers and Families: Enhance support systems for those who care for veterans.

Call for Collaboration – Phase 1

We invite all stakeholders, including veterans, their families, and carers, to participate in our ongoing consultation. Your insights are crucial for shaping the programme's future and ensuring it meets the community's needs.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to improving the lives of our veterans. Together, we can build a stronger, more supportive community for those who have served our country.