Focusing on Deeper Collaboration – Guest blog

In this blog, Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, writes about the future trend ‘Deeper Collaboration’.


With the veteran community continuing to decrease in size and a growing recognition of the risks faced by those working in other public services, there is a concern in the Armed Forces community of the potential erosion of the status of serving in the military.

Veterans still represent a sizeable proportion of the national population and as a nation we owe them a debt of gratitude, so it is vital that their specific needs are recognised. Collaboration between Armed Forces charities and other sectors such as the NHS provides opportunities to better understand the military community – both in terms of what they contribute to, and require from, the nation.

We know many veterans leave the military and take up employment in the police force, prison service, ambulance service and other public services. This presents opportunities for charities such as Combat Stress to assist those individuals who would benefit from the specialist support we provide. The Armed Forces charity sector could also support the organisations in which those individuals work to better assist their employees.

Our sector has already done a good deal of collaborative work, but we need to take it to the next level and focus on where we add value and where we overlap.

There are multiple organisations that serve the same group of people. Charities need to collaborate not only with one another but with veterans themselves to determine whether beneficiaries need as many different pathways as are currently available. With resources being more competitive, we must consolidate and collaborate.

We often hear from veterans and their families that they have to repeat their story every time they interact with a new organisation. There must be a willingness in our sector and beyond to share data. To achieve this, organisations would have to comply to a common standard around data protection. Some organisations will of course be unable to participate in data sharing, which could be a limiting factor not only in terms of collaboration within the sector but the size of it as well. But where we can make it work, we must do so.

We must also ensure the Armed Forces charity sector works to become more diverse and inclusive. The organisations in our sector who do not embrace this will find themselves marginalised. We have an opportunity to reach the more diverse members of the military community and involve them in the running and oversight of organisations to ensure long-term inclusivity.

For too long, female, BAME and LGBTQ+ veterans have not received the support they are entitled to and deserve. A rebalance is required and we need to address why some in these groups have not felt able to ask for help.

Collectively we should be defining the outcomes that our beneficiaries want to achieve and coming together to address how to make this happen. The funders in our sector can support us by focusing on these outcomes, rather than KPIs, targets and outputs. Funders have a role to play in creating the environment in which organisations don’t have to compete with one another but are instead encouraged and inspired to collaborate and rewarded for doing so.

We must move beyond competing against each other and instead look to plan our future together.


Read about deeper collaboration and download the trend.

How do you think deeper collaboration will affect the future of the Armed Forces? Share your thoughts in the comments below to help inform our final report. 


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