Research, Armed Forces charities research

Focus On: Armed Forces Charities' Physical Health Provision

What is the purpose of the report? 

Serving in the armed forces poses a risk for physical health issues; each year, a number of Serving personnel are medically discharged. Moreover, physical health conditions may develop following transition to civilian life.

Alongside a number of other services, armed forces charities play a role in supporting members of the armed forces community with their physical health. For the first time, this report provides a comprehensive overview of the armed forces charity sector’s physical health support.

What does it cover?

As part of the Focus On series, this report provides more specific analysis of the work of armed forces charities across the UK – in this case, armed forces charities which support members of the armed forces community with physical health support.

In this report, we use the phrase ‘physical health support’ to refer to services promoting the recovery, fitness and general good health of the armed forces community. It also includes services which are directed specifically at injured/ill beneficiaries, which serve more generally to improve their quality of life and well-being, or to support their transition to civilian life.

The report aims to provide the reader with:

  • Exploration of physical health support offered by charities
  • Insights into the beneficiary population
  • Assessment of expenditure on physical health provision
  • Collaboration, evaluation and standards of practice

In addition, the report includes several case studies to demonstrate the work undertaken to provide physical health support.

Who is it for?

This is a unique resource for charities, practitioners, government, policymakers and researchers to understand what armed forces charities do to support the armed forces community with physical health.

What did we find?

  • There are 121 armed forces charities providing physical health support.
  • Armed forces charities delivered physical health support to at least 250,000 beneficiaries – spending at least £103 million – within the year prior to data collection.
  • The most commonly supported injury/ illness type was limited mobility (64%), followed by wounds (61%).
  • The most commonly provided physical health services were recreation, adapted housing and sports/fitness programmes.
  • In total, 90% of charities delivering clinical services were registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or national equivalents.
  • DSC found evidence of extensive collaboration within the voluntary sector, but partnership with external health authorities was rare.

What did people say?

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust: ‘The purpose of FiMT is to enable all ex-Service personnel and their families to make a successful and sustainable transition back into civilian life. This detailed report provides an important insight into the physical health support a relatively small number of charities provide to the armed forces community across the UK.’


Tom Traynor, Head of Research, Directory of Social Change: ‘The aim of the Focus On series is not only to highlight the vital work our armed forces charities do for their respective beneficiaries, but also to create a better knowledge base for policymakers and these charities to continue to act in the best interests of our armed forces community.’

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