Out of Service looks to gather the experiences of people moving from the services to civilian life and people affected by war and conflict.

Last year, we worked with a group of ex-service personnel of different age and with various military backgrounds to create a performance. Written with and performed by ex-service personnel, Out of Service was an immersive theatre production documenting their experiences as they made the transition to civilian life in the 21st Century. Further information and images of the performance can be found here. This project was a collaboration between Collective Encounters and the Imperial War Museum North. Evaluating the impact of this project has been very important as we hope to continue working with the group in the future, take a look at the evaluation for Out of Service here. We also created an evaluation film featuring which you can watch here.

The performance included a screening of Poets of Loss, our animated Opera which we have recently released. Developed in 2012, Poets of Loss is the result of our extensive work with people with direct experiences of homelessness and ex-service personnel.

The animation tells the story of a man finding solace in his dying moments. A soldier returned from war, he cannot reconcile himself to civilian life, or forget the atrocities he has been party to. This animated opera exposes the tragedy behind the ex-service men and women who make up a quarter of Britain’s homeless community, and tells the stories of the other people whose lives and homes have been destroyed through debt and economic circumstance.

These are some of the key reasons why many veterans seek help from charities. William Wilberforce who heads up the national charities Veteran’s Aid says “We see it every day; payday loans eating into our people like a flesh-eating bug, cheap alcohol destroying people. What my ver strong, hand-picked team do is attack these things – we’re breaking those chains day after day“.

Last Christmas, The Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers set up a campaign to raise the profile of the plight of homeless ex-service men and women. They are working with charities and want the support of the public to ensure that where ex-service and women have fallen into destitution, they are offered the helping hand they now need. For more information about the #homelessveterans appeal, take a look here.

Poets of Loss is our artistic response. We hope that by watching, you are encouraged to donate, rally and make change. For more information about our research and work in this area, take a look here.

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Out of Service: What Can You Do?

1. Ask your local authority what they are currently doing to actively apply the Military Covenant. Find the contact number for your local authority here.

2. Fundraise for a charity that directly supports veterans. As always, choose your charity carefully. Why not think about a national charity such as Combat Stress or a local charity like the 42 Brigade Personal Recovery Unit. Look up veterans charities here.

3. Lobby for legal enforcement of the Military Covenant – at present it’s just an unenforceable code of conduct and for increased funding for veterans services within the NHS – the NHS needs the capacity to be more flexible and responsive to the in and out patient psychological treatment of veterans. Find your local M.P. here.

4. If you are a friend or family member of a veteran find out more about how you can help them practically. Contact the Military Veterans Service North West by calling 0161 253 6638 or emailing mviapt.enquiries.nw@nhs.net.