New report praises role of Glasgow Helping Heroes

23 June 2022

A new report has been published examining the Social Return on Investment (SROI) generated by Glasgow’s Helping Heroes (GHH) a partnership between SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity and Glasgow City Council.

The person-centred service, which supports vulnerable members of the Armed Forces Community across Glasgow, delivers £6.63 of Social Return on Investment (SROI) for every £1 invested in support services. The findings illustrated a range of SROI values from analysis of data from pre-Covid years indicated that the social value figure in ‘normal’ conditions would be approximately £11.68.

The independent report: “Glasgow’s Helping Heroes – a vital service enabling our Armed Forces community to thrive” was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and carried out by Dr Steve Rolfe and a team of researchers from the University of Stirling and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Conducted over a two-year period, beginning in January 2020, the core conclusion from the evaluation was that GHH is providing a service which is highly valued by clients, delivering substantial social value in terms of outcomes related to housing, finance, employment, resilience and mental wellbeing.

Launched in 2010, GHH has helped 2210 members of Glasgow’s Armed Forces community since its inception. In 2021 the service supported more than 300 people across the city, with beneficiaries’ issues ranging from food and fuel poverty to poor mental health and wellbeing, housing eviction and unemployment.  Whilst veterans and other members of the Armed Forces community are not radically different from the civilian population, and the majority thrive in civilian life, there are some aspects of Service life which can create challenges for a small minority. This report explores the issues arising from Service life as well as the particular aspects of the GHH model which are crucial in transforming lives.

The findings suggest that services need to be tailored in specific ways to meet these distinctive needs of veterans. The report also found that understanding the impact of Service life for some veterans lies at the heart of the success of the GHH model.

Dr Steve Rolfe from the University of Stirling said: “Our research demonstrates the enormous impact that Glasgow’s Helping Heroes has for veterans and other members of the Armed Forces community in the area.

“This is a credit to the hard work and dedication of the GHH team, especially during the challenging conditions of the pandemic. Equally importantly, the evaluation highlights the value of a holistic, person-centred service. When life throws up difficulties, services like GHH can help veterans to navigate the complex world of civilian services. Building on these findings will help SSAFA and the Armed Forces charity sector more broadly to meet the needs of veterans in Glasgow and elsewhere.”

Rachel Tribble, Manager of Glasgow’s Helping Heroes said: “We knew that our service was of vital importance but until this evaluation we didn’t have the evidence base to back that up. This evaluation will enable us to plan our resourcing for the future, to demonstrate our effectiveness to potential funders and, most significantly, to ensure we can support our clients in the best possible way.”

Tom McBarnet, Chief Executive (Acting) of Forces in Mind Trust said: “Despite running successfully for many years, and with plenty of anecdotal evidence of its benefits and long-term impact, FiMT recognised that it was important for Glasgow’s Helping Heroes to provide a more rigorous assessment and objective evidence of its long-term impact for the veteran community and their families. 

“This report underscores the value of the GHH Model, signalling the benefits of this approach to both SSAFA, local authorities and the wider Armed Forces charities sector alike. I therefore welcome this study and commend it to all those interested in a proven model and wanting to learn from its success.”

These social impacts do not just affect the vulnerable veterans supported by GHH but they also demonstrate the benefits and cost-savings to public services. For example, by assisting veterans to move away from homelessness, GHH saves money for Glasgow City Council in terms of homelessness provision and temporary accommodation. This, in turn has cost saving implications for health and criminal justice services, which are often used by homeless individuals.

Whilst the scope of this research was to evaluate the impact and value of GHH, the recommendations and findings of the report offers lessons, which may be of value to the wider military and welfare charity sector, particularly around impact measurement, and the service characteristics that make GHH a successful model for welfare support delivery.

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