Hampshire County Council and its partners have secured funding from the Armed Forced Covenant Fund to encourage support to the Armed Forces community and strengthen local government’s delivery of the Covenant. The Council decided to use part of the fund for staff training delivered by the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) to increase understanding and awareness of the Armed Forces.

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund funds projects that support military communities. With around 20,000 serving personnel and 60,000 veterans currently living in Hampshire, the county has one of the largest military communities in England. Due to this significant high number of residents with a military background, Hampshire County Council identified the benefit for further funding to train staff on different aspects of service life.

The funding received supports a two year project that sees DMWS Training deliver Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) - Armed Forces Community training to local authority staff, particularly housing teams, benefits teams and reception staff, community sector, and health and military partners. The training aims to reduce stigma around mental health, to improve access to services and reduce inequalities in health for Armed Forces personnel and veterans.

DMWS Training was chosen as the ideal delivery partner due to our location and background. We are an Andover based charity who has been providing medical welfare service to the Armed Forces community since 1943. Our Welfare Officers offer practical and emotional support to ensure no family goes through the worry of illness alone. In 2012, we took our knowledge and experience and developed our Training arm of which MHFA is one of the courses we deliver.

The two-day MHFA course is specially designed for people from the Armed Forces Community or those who are working with them. Over the next two years, training will run in various locations across the county, to make it easier for staff to attend. The first two courses have already been successfully delivered in Test Valley and at Worthy Down Camp and we are proud of the encouraging feedback we have received:

“A good course; anyone who works in and with the military would benefit”

“I have come away with skills and knowledge that I feel confident to use, and the safety of knowing where to signpost people for professional help and self-help”

“I feel this course has made a positive impact on how I would react. Everyone should do it!”

DMWS is delighted to be Hampshire County Council’s chosen delivery partner for this valuable project to achieve a common goal: “To support those who serve”.