As an organisation Touchstone champions the values of inclusion and diversity, co-production, and quality and continuous improvement.
As a team, the Business Development team are always looking for ways to discover and support the ideas of all the people we work with, and build relationships and partnerships that lead to better services for communities across Yorkshire that inspire and transform lives.
As an individual I am always looking to learn, broaden my understanding and knowledge, and to listen to individuals/communities that are seldom heard.
It was the marrying of all three that led to us holding a focus group at the end of November with a group of individuals who had served in the British Armed Forces.  What better way to learn and find out how we can do what we’re doing better than to take the time to meet with individuals, hear their stories, journeys, thoughts and ideas.
There has been some research undertaken into the needs of this community, and the UK’s Armed Forces Covenant and Covenant Fund has made inroads into ensuring we support the Armed Forces community in the UK.
We met informally, focusing on a few key areas  like families, relationships, transitions, services, mental health, stigma, language and peer support.
We gained insight into current gaps in service provision, and some hints and tips on how we can better support and engage with individuals who have served in the Armed Forces. We even had a lesson on some of the language/colloquialisms used – which was both funny and enlightening!
Leading on from this, I will be working to continue learning and improving how we work with the Armed Forces Community, looking for funding/investment to establish specific projects, sharing our learning across the organisation and  continuing to coproduce ideas and developments going forward.
Both Jess and I would like to thank all those who were involved in the session and helped make it such a successful event.