Press Release: Northern Ireland veterans receive £800,000 in funding for complex mental health support and peer support services

June 27, 2022

PRESS RELEASE 27 June 2022

Northern Ireland veterans receive £800,000 in funding for complex mental health support and peer support services.

Project Partners of the Northern Ireland Veterans' Places, Pathways and People Programme. © Photo: Gary Gardiner.

On Thursday 23rd June the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office (NIVSO), which sits within the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for Northern Ireland, celebrated the launch of a new two-year programme of support for veterans in Northern Ireland.

Funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, the NIVSO will manage the delivery of a comprehensive veteran support programme across the region.

The programme launch took place in Malone House, Belfast, and was attended by representatives from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, members of the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Committee, Northern Ireland Veterans’ Commissioner Danny Kinahan, Veterans’ Champions, and representatives from veteran supporting organisations from across Northern Ireland.

Part of the UK-wide Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People Programme, and known as the NI Vital Veterans’ Network, the programme will aim to sustain and enhance existing mental health and peer support services into a regionally-managed and accessible system of care.

Head of the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office, Liz Brown, said: “Funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has been the single biggest enabler for us to deliver and directly support programmes here. Veterans need more than an information poster, they need a warm hand-over and boots on the ground to build relationships. Navigators and care co-ordinators ensure services are connected, they work on building trust with beneficiaries to make accessing advice and guidance straightforward.

“There is a close knit veteran support network across Northern Ireland, we are very proud of the work going on here. We have programmes involving horticulture, fishing, bee-keeping and even equine therapy. Our veteran community really does communicate better shoulder to shoulder.”

The range of projects being delivered sets out to bridge gaps and offer support from peer-to-peer activities all the way through to higher level clinical services. Services will be delivered by 8 project partners and NIVSO who will work together to form wraparound care and services for veterans and their families in Northern Ireland. Brooke House Health and Wellbeing Centre, Combat Stress and Inspire Wellbeing will work collaboratively to deliver complex mental health support for veterans.

Some of the current team of NIVSO Navigators and Care Coordinators who sit within veteran-support organisations Walking With the Wounded and Andy Allen Veteran Support (AAVS) are being sustained, and they will continue to help guide veterans from complex mental health support into and between peer support pathways.

Inspire Wellbeing will also deliver training for veteran volunteers to support the work of Navigators and Care Coordinators as trusted links to veterans and sources of reliable information and knowledge.

The Defence Gardens Scheme will continue to run its established horticultural programmes with this new funding, and Fighting With Pride will begin outreach aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness among veterans in the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland.

Out of the Shadows will provide activity-based programmes for veterans encouraging social engagement and social enterprise. They will take the message of positive mental health and wellbeing on the road across Northern Ireland in their converted WW2 ambulance, and promote positive mental health and wellbeing in a safe and welcoming place at their base in Co Armagh.

Guests at the event were treated to a performance by the Frontier Pipes and Drums, Northern Ireland’s veterans’ pipe band. The Frontier Pipes and Drums are also funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, and open to all veterans living in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner, Danny Kinahan, said: "One of my key aims is to ensure that every veteran living in Northern Ireland knows what mental health support exists for them, and how to access it whenever it is required. The NI Vital Veterans' Network is an exciting and significant programme that will enhance existing mental health support across Northern Ireland and I look forward to working with the project partners and the Veterans' Support Office as the programme is delivered to veterans and their families over the next two years.”

Chief Executive of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, Anna Wright, said: “The Trust is excited about the potential that these grants can have to deliver real and lasting change. Through these grants veterans with mental health needs can have better access to effective pathways of care and support in their region; and have safe places to go to access support, reduce isolation and support positive mental health.”

Veterans and their families can get involved in the Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People programme by contacting the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office. Phone 028 9521 6784 or email for more information and support.





The Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office (NIVSO) is the lead support and signposting service linking individual veterans, veterans’ groups, statutory and non-statutory bodies, and charities supporting veterans in Northern Ireland.

The NIVSO sits within the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for Northern Ireland (RFCA NI).

The Veterans Places, Pathways and People programme has awarded significant grants to make sustained improvements to veterans mental health.

10 Portfolio grants have been awarded; with one each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with seven regional grants awarded in the UK. Across all of the portfolios; 170 individual projects will be supported.

Each grant has been made to a lead organisation that will co-ordinate a dynamic and co-ordinated portfolio of projects that will take an informed approach across their country or region. They will ensure that there are connected pathways which work well for veterans; that there are safe places for veterans to go which connect into these pathways; and that volunteers and staff who support veterans have access to training and work closely with other organisations within veterans’ mental health pathways.

An additional four grants have been awarded to Cobseo (the Confederation of Service Charities); the Association of Service Drop-In Centres (ASDIC); SSAFA and Combat Stress. These Strategic Leads will work within the wider Veterans Places, Pathways and People programme, and with a cross-sector Oversight Group to encourage the integration of existing clinical mental health provision with the broader non-clinical services for veterans needing general wellbeing support as well as those on the mental health recovery pathway across the sector. Their work will strengthen the development of more joined-up local provision for veterans.

These specialist organisations will work with the 10 Country and Regional portfolios that will be supported through the wider programme; with the wider Armed Forces charitable sector; and with organisations that support veterans. A full list of grants can be found here

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust is a charity and a MOD sponsored NDPB that manages the grant programmes funded by the Covenant Fund. They also run wider funding programmes that support the Armed Forces community.

The Trust makes grants that have an impact on the lives of Armed Forces communities, including serving personnel, Armed Forces families, veterans, and their families.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

For more information on the Armed Forces Covenant, visit the Covenant website



Contacts for Veterans’ Champions in attendance:

  • Antrim & Newtownabbey Paul Michael 07587657120
  • Ards & North Down: Trevor Cummings 07889678490
  • Belfast City Council: Gareth Spratt 07823668786
  • Causeway Coast & Glens: Sharon McKillop  07793678991
  • Fermanagh & Omagh: Bert Wilson 07876545201
  • Lisburn & Castlereagh: James Tinsley 07866266294
  • Mid & East Antrim: John Carson 07891338220
  • Mid Ulster: Mark Glasgow 07796660665

Media contact: 

Janette Loughlin, Communications Officer, Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office:   07951371249

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