SSAFA (formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) is the UK’s oldest military charity. It alleviates suffering and distress among those serving in the armed forces, veterans and their families to increase independence and dignity. SSAFA's primary role is to provide personal, face-to-face support, delivered by over 6,000 trained volunteers. The charity works with young and old, those leaving the armed forces, veterans in prison and many others. Last year, nearly 70,000 people received benevolent assistance from SSAFA.
Conscious that the needs of SSAFA’s beneficiary community are changing, SSAFA is committed to ensuring that new requirements, experiences and voices are at the heart of the organisation’s planning processes. SSAFA commissioned Firetail to conduct a major programme of research to inform the organisation’s strategic review for 2017–2022.
In early 2017, Firetail designed and conducted a national conversation with SSAFA beneficiaries, staff and volunteers to discuss how the organisation can best support the communities it serves over the next five years. More than 1,400 individuals contributed to our research through a series of online surveys, focus groups, 1:1 interviews and peer-led activities. We also ran a programme of engagement with external SSAFA stakeholders to locate the findings from this wider consultation in the changing policy and NGO environment in which SSAFA operates. This was achieved through detailed conversations with representatives from the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence and several connected charities.
Lessons from the research have shaped the organisation’s recently published strategic review document. We continue to support SSAFA’s leadership team as it implements findings from the research to deliver its five-year strategy. We are also helping the charity to communicate and discuss findings from its strategic activities through presentations with trustees, staff and volunteer groups.