The Contact Group (‘Contact’) is the UK collaboration of statutory and non-statutory organisations, including charity, academic and professional bodies, working together on military mental health priorities encompassing policy, treatment and research. Contact also acts as the mental health cluster for Cobseo, the Confederation of Service Charities. As well as core Contact members, a number of Contact associate, research associate and partner organisations also engage with the work of the group. Membership of the group and engagement by member and other organisations in its collaborative work is entirely voluntary.
Work on Contact Group projects is made possible through the participation of members and other organisations in its different workstreams, as well as support from a number of partner organisations. Since June 2019, Contact has been fortunate to successfully apply for and receive just over £580,000 in project grant funding (not including core funding), from funders including NHS England, Veterans’ Foundation, Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund, and Heads Together/National Emergencies Trust (NET).
Contact’s operational costs are funded for 2022-24 through the generous support of the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). The Contact website is funded for the period 2020-2022 through the kind support of the Veterans’ Foundation. Contact is hosted for financial and administrative purposes for the period 2022-24 by Contact member Help for Heroes. The Contact Group’s current Terms of Reference can be found here.
Please note that Contact is not a regulatory body and does not monitor or regulate the activities of member, associate, partner or other organisations featured on this website. If you have concerns about any of the organisations included on this website, please contact us.
A brief history of the group’s evolution follows below. If you would like further information, or would like to provide feedback on Contact’s work or this website, please contact us.
Photo credit: Walking With The Wounded
History of Contact
In 2015 ‘The Veterans’ Mental Health Round Table’ was formed by the Help for Heroes’ Director of Recovery, David Richmond. It aimed to improve collaboration among mental health providers to the veteran community. It was an informal group that gathered momentum as time went on.
In 2016 the ‘Heads Together’ mental health campaign was launched by the Royal Foundation of Princes William and Harry, together with eight charity partners. The opportunity to join Heads Together provided the catalyst for the Round Table to relaunch itself under a new name. The initial focus was guidance for veterans and their families, a strategy championed by Prince Harry. In fact, the name itself was suggested by the Prince (reflecting the use of the word ‘Contact’ in combat settings as well as its more obvious inferred offer of guidance).
Initial membership was weighted towards the third sector and comprised Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, Walking with the Wounded, Royal British Legion, Big White Wall, Cobseo, Veterans NHS Wales, Veterans First Point, Kings College London, Royal College of Psychiatrists, NHS England, and MoD. David Richmond was appointed the first Chair.
Photo credit: Crown copyright
Significant donations had been raised by Heads Together, and some of these were allocated by the Royal Foundation to the administrative costs of the new collaboration. A part-time project officer was seconded from Help for Heroes from 2016.
In 2018, Charles Winstanley took over from David as Chair. A new Project Officer, Anna Owen, was recruited in 2019 and in 2020 Contact’s funding source moved from the Royal Foundation to the Forces in Mind Trust.
Pro-bono administration of Contact’s finance and HR was provided by Help for Heroes until late 2019, when the provision moved to Combat Stress.
From 2018 the strategic focus of Contact moved from an ambition to deal directly with veterans to one of liaison within the UK military mental health sector; at the same time the membership focus of the group moved from charities to embrace all providers, policy makers and researchers as equal members (rather than attendees at a meeting of charities). The need to incorporate all four nations was underscored by the inclusion of representatives from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. From 2019 it was determined that a broader ‘family’ of charities active in veterans’ mental health (but for whom it may not be core business) could apply to be Contact associates.
Contact has now matured as the focal point for the development of military mental health policy, treatments and research in the four nations of the UK.
Chair and Staff
Contact Independent Chair
Angus Kerr became the Independent Chair of Contact in April 2023.
Angus is a graduate of the University of Reading with a BA(Hons) in Politics and International Relations, and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Following a commission in the Royal Artillery, which included two tours of Northern Ireland, he entered the City where he has held management roles at a number of organisations including Dresdner Kleinwort and Credit Suisse. He has over 25 years experience of providing strategic counsel to private and listed UK companies (FTSE100, FTSE250 and small-cap) and to international companies at board level. He has raised over £7 billion for his clients and has advised on transactions totalling more than £100 billion in value.
Angus is a father of three teenagers and lives in Wiltshire. His interests include theatre, cricket, Scottish rugby and Arsenal.
Contact Project Manager
Most of Mark’s career has been military – sponsored thro’ university to study psychology, he graduated from Sandhurst and, after about five years, headed off to the Royal Marines. After a few years in civilian management, gaining experience with Mars and Motorola whilst also studying for an MBA, he returned to the Marines commanding small teams thro’ to 300 marines. He has served across the world including Germany, Iraq, Afghan, Rwanda, Somalia, Georgia (FSU), SE Asia… With an MSc in Mental Health he led the Royal Navy Recovery Centre (Hasler), looking after the most seriously wounded, injured and sick personnel in the RN/RM.
He loves the outdoors and sports, and still coaches rugby and surf lifesaving, and is a keen Exeter Chiefs fan. With an excercise habit developed as a commando, he still rises early to ride, swim or run.
Leaving the Marines at the start of 2023 he became a senior project manager with an engineering company. He is very excited to be back in the military community, especially the military mental health gang.