Research, Armed Forces charities research

Focus On: Armed Forces Charities' Support for Families

What is the purpose of the report? 

Families of serving and ex-Service personnel form a large part of the armed forces community. These families face similar challenges to those in the civilian population. However, armed forces families can experience distinct stressors associated with their circumstances.

Armed forces charities play an important role in supporting armed forces families. For the first time, this report provides a comprehensive overview of the armed forces charity sector’s support for families.

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 families. By families, we mean spouses or partners, widows, children and adult dependants of both serving and ex-Service personnel.

The report aims to provide the reader with:

  • An exploration of the types of support available
  • Insights into the characteristics of the beneficiary population
  • An examination of charities’ expenditure on support for families
  • Collaboration, impact measurement and practical challenges

In addition, the report includes several case studies to demonstrate the work undertaken to support armed forces families.

Who is it for?

This is a unique resource for charities, practitioners, government, policymakers and researchers to understand what armed forces charities deliver in terms of their provision for armed forces families.

What did we find?

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • 268 armed forces charities support families, comprising around 14.8% of the armed forces charity sector.
  • The survey respondents supported 88,921 beneficiaries – that is, individual family members – and spent approximately £68.5 million in the year prior to July/August 2020.
  • Armed forces charities provide wide-ranging support to families, including social groups, mental health support and education support.
  • Over half of the survey respondents measure the impact of their support on armed forces families and over two-thirds work in partnership with at least one other organisation.
  • Identifying beneficiaries is a key challenge.
  • The impacts of Covid-19 are widespread and overlapping.

What did people say?

Collette Musgrave, Chief Executive, Armed Families Federation (from the Foreword): ‘The three Families Federation welcome this report and its focus on the assistance that armed forces charities provide to families. We are grateful to the Directory of Social Change and Forces in Mind Trust for highlighting the challenges that our armed forces families face, the sacrifices they make and their need for effective support.’


Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust: ‘We know that Armed Forces charities provide important and highly dedicated services to support the families of serving and ex-Service personnel. This report from DSC has helped to improve our understanding of the sector and the support available to Armed Forces families, as well as highlighted some of the challenges service providers face. We hope that action can now be taken to address some of these challenges, improving processes for impact measurement and identifying beneficiaries, as well as increasing the already high levels of collaboration in the sector.’


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