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Armed Forces: On the front line of changing lives

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Published on 29 June 2019

Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell with University academics and military personnel
Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell with University academics and military personnel

A bond between the University of Sunderland and the Armed Forces has been further strengthened thanks to a £16,000 grant.

The money will allow the University to extend their reach to former service personnel by offering them support and access to education at a greater level than ever before.

The University successfully applied to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund: Local Grants Development Scheme for £16,000 to help build on the already established relationship with the services.

The University signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant earlier this year and the partnership was recently recognised nationally when the relationship became a finalist in the Student Nursing Times Awards for Partnership of the Year 2018.

WO1 Dennis Mustard, of the 251 Medical Squadron, based at Dykelands Road in Seaburn, Sunderland, said the signing of the Covenant sealed a longstanding relationship between the University and the Forces.

Dr Yitka Graham, Senior Lecturer in Health Services and NHS Engagement at the University of Sunderland, said: “The funding we have been awarded from the Local Grants Partnership will be matched by the University as part of our ongoing commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant Partnership.

“We are committed to integrating and supporting serving and veteran populations to access Higher Education and underpinning this with research.  This is an exciting opportunity which builds upon the strong partnership we have with our Armed Forces colleagues.”

Simone Bedford, Team Leader for Adult Nursing, said: “We already have a great relationship with local reserve forces and this grant will help us strengthen these partnerships. 

“Going forward, we will be looking to support veterans into our nursing and paramedic science programmes as well as supporting students to become reservists themselves.  We will be collaboratively to develop new initiatives which will support the Armed Forces entering the Higher Education Sector.”


Ultimately, the aims of the partnership between the University and the Armed Forces include:

  • Recognising the skills of Combat Medical Technicians (CMTs) and medics who may not have an academic background and help them access the university’s programmes
  • Continuing to provide free access to University facilities to 251 Med Regiment when required for training and education of their medical staff 
  • For students to take part in team building activities, leadership exercises and trauma creating an awareness of medical careers in the Armed Forces.
  • Working with the Defence Medical Services to establish a recognised nursing programme aimed at those wishing to join the military after qualification


Every year Armed Forces personnel return home to the region after leaving the Services, but returning to Civvy Street is not without its challenges. In some cases the veterans, or those injured in the line of duty, find it difficult to cope with life outside the Forces, and in many cases need extra support and help to re-adjust. It is hoped the University can play a key role is helping these veterans, young and old, get back onto the career ladder.