Mandy Lindley has been with the RNRMC for three years. In her role as Director of Relationships and Funding, she is responsible for leading a comprehensive understanding of need, demonstrating impact and achieving world-class grantmaking for the charity. As a former Wren (Women’s Royal Naval Service), Mandy cares passionately about supporting the entire naval family and works hard to ensure that money raised by our supporters is distributed in the best and most effective way.

A large proportion of Mandy’s role involves working closely with other associated charities in order to formulate an effective strategy of grant giving that covers the individual grant giving pathways. In this edition of The Flagship Newsletter, Mandy answers questions about her role, her priorities for 2018 and the RNRMC’s relationship with frontline charities.

What are your priorities for grant making in 2018 and what are the key problems you hope to address? How do you know these things are needed?

Recent research commissioned by the Maritime Charities Group highlighted that providing the right support for elderly veterans was an area of concern. The number of individuals in this group is actually declining (as those who completed National Service reach the end of their lives) but the costs of putting appropriate support in place for them is increasing. We need to invest strategically and collaborative to ensure that the needs of this current population are met, but also that the support structure remains relevant for the next generation of elderly veterans. We know that more support will be needed in the next 10 – 20 years around financial issues, loneliness and isolation, dementia, limitations with daily living and long-standing illness.

At the other end of the scale, we learnt from a recent Needs Workshop with Serving personnel that support for families – specifically around childcare and emotional support for partners and children – is one of the single biggest issues for our sailors and marines. Research within the Service also highlights just how damaging marital and relationship problems can be for retention and performance, so we will continue to invest money in the project with Relate, which has demonstrated some really positive early signs of success.

Of course, we will continue to be here for the people who need us most: those who have fallen on hard times and need extra support.

Why should I give money to the RNRMC, rather than directly to the charity delivering the support?

Because of our structure (as the umbrella organisation for a number of naval charities offering specialist support) and through our partnership working we can find the best way to address the specific needs of our sailors, marines and their families and direct the money accordingly.

How do you decide which projects to support?

There has to be a clear benefit to the Naval family and, of course, a clear business plan. In the current economic climate, it’s also more important than ever that the project represents good value for money.

In the early days, the RNRMC was largely reactive to requests for support, but as the organisation has grown up we’ve developed some really strong partnerships with delivery organisations and monitoring arrangements to demonstrate the difference funding makes. We are much more proactive in discussing how we can work most effectively in partnership and putting long-term funding agreements in place in order to ensure continuity of provision. 

Why does the RNRMC fund amenities?

The Navy has always done its best to provide for its people, allocating some budget specifically for amenity provision. However, the public purse continues to tighten, the Navy has to prioritise investment in operational capability and the funds available for amenities are quite simply not enough.

Showing our gratitude to Naval personnel is intrinsic to who we are, which is why we raise additional funds for non-essential items, which help boost morale and efficiency. We are quite clear that we will not fund weapons, beds or uniforms but we will never stop funding the extras that make life that little bit more comfortable for our sailors and marines.

How do you know that the RNRMC money is making a difference?

When we award a grant we agree on indicators and measures to check that the project is achieving the stated outcomes. We also visit the organisations we fund and meet the beneficiaries for ourselves.

Because the veteran population is so dispersed and there is such a web of different support and providers it’s quite challenging to measure the overall difference we’re making and, of course, measuring impact on wellbeing is always going to be tricky – this is something that we’re working and making significant on with other Naval charities.

Can you give an example of a grant that has had a really big impact?

Sometimes it’s the really small grants - £200 for a family fun day for a ship for example - that can have a big impact.

It’s still quite early days, but I would say the Relate project is having a big impact. Looking at the issues reported most commonly in RNRMC funded clients’ pre-counselling questionnaires: 100% reported improved communication; 87% reported rows and arguments were much better; 88% reported being better able to manage conflict and 87% reported that issues around taking each other for granted were better.

Counselling is accessed confidentially, so it’s difficult to measure how this will have a direct impact on operational efficiency, but take up of support has been high, which demonstrates that it was much needed and appreciated by those that have benefitted,

What are the challenges the RNRMC faces in 2018?

Raising more money to meet increasing demand for support. We know that the public purse has tightened over the past few years and we are being asked to do more. Whilst the number of serving personnel has dropped, the UK commitment to patrolling the seas and humanitarian missions is as important as ever. Reduced numbers of sailors and marines has led to longer deployments and more separation for families which in turn puts families under pressure and can lead to people leaving the Service early. Meeting the needs of our families is paramount.