Forces Face New Challenge

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As the Walking With The Wounded team launch their most ambitious challenge yet, the expedition to the South Pole, we at RBLI would like to wish Ibrar, Kate, Duncan, Guy and Prince Harry the very best of luck.    We look forward to the announcement that Team UK is the first to arrive and waiting to welcome Team US and Team Commonwealth.

Whilst one of the aims of these expeditions is to demonstrate how Armed Forces personnel who experience life changing injuries overcome the most significant of challenges to achieve great things, the money raised by them and what this supports other individuals to achieve is none the less significant.   No one is more aware of this than RBLI.   We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from Walking With The Wounded for our LifeWorks programme.     This provides assessment and training for individuals who are leaving the Armed Forces through medical discharge as well as veterans who may have been medically discharged some time ago but have found it difficult to achieve a successful transition into civilian employment.   This year over 200 individuals will benefit from LifeWorks support ; most of them will go into work or engage with further training to improve their employment potential.

RBLI wishes all the teams luck.   We wish Team UK success and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Walking With The Wounded to support even more wounded and injured individuals in their transition from Military to Civilian life.

Victor Project welcomes Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

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The Victor Project which provides employment and training for ex service, ex offenders continues to go from strength to strength.  We were therefore delighted to welcome Rt Hon Chris Grayling, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice and Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford when they came to talk to some of the Victor participants and stakeholders.

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The project is delivered through a partnership between Blue Sky who have been running projects for ex offenders for many years and RBLI, whose expertise with Armed Forces personnel is well established.  Working with unemployed veterans who have also been in prison, the project provides employment and training in grounds maintenance.

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The project is supported by a number of organisations, including the Forces in Mind Trust with a view to extending the number of projects operating to many more potential beneficiaries across a wider geographical area.

Taking our Veterans on a trip down memory lane.

Living history group
On Saturday we organised 18 of our Armed Forces Veterans, residents and staff from the Royal British Legion Village in Aylesford to Maidstone Museum for a regimental roadshow.

The residents, who are themselves Armed Forces veterans or their descendants, brought along military artefacts and medals to have their origins explained by Museum staff and the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group.

‘We are looking forward to developing a partnership with the RBLI which will offer their residents greater access to our shared local heritage’: Simon Lace AMA, Museums and Heritage Manager

Museum staff and The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group members, who attended in full uniform from various time periods and theatres of conflict, answered residents’ questions about the history of the local area, the artefacts on display and the Royal West Kent Regiment.

The event was rounded off with a visit to the Cenotaph War Memorial at Brenchley Gardens. Here the residents, having spent the morning learning and remembering about significant periods of history, were able to pay their respects in the tranquil setting of the Victorian gardens.

Community Health and Wellbeing Officer for RBLI, Nina Montoya said of the event, Maidstone Museum put on a fantastic morning for our veterans and residents. The residents greatly appreciated their expert knowledge and loved the enthusiasm and kindness shown by staff. Especially pleasing was that those residents who have limited mobility were very well looked after, as the museum is fully equipped to cater for their needs. ” 

‘I look forward to the continued partnership with the Museum and the local living history group throughout the next few years and am excited by the combined ideas from both parties for future events.’ Nina Montoya, Community Health and Wellbeing Officer

Simon Lace AMA, Museums and Heritage Manager, said of the collaboration, “We were delighted to welcome our visitors from RBLI and to have the opportunity to show them our fantastic new facilities and the full range of activities that we can now offer. We are looking forward to developing a partnership with the RBLI which will offer their residents greater access to our shared local heritage and allow the Museum, with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War in 2014 on the horizon, to strengthen links with Armed Forces Veterans.”

For more information about RBLI or our accommodation for Veterans and their families please call 01622 795900 or visit www.rbli.co.uk/welfare_healthcare/. For more information about events at Maidstone Museum please call 01622 602 838 or visit www.museum.maidstone.gov.uk/

SORTED!

Following the recent announcements regarding planned redundancies for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, we now have confirmation that there will be a phased reduction in Army personnel equating to 20,000.

The transition from Armed Forces to civilian employment can be a difficult one.  With a challenging economic climate giving rise to high unemployment, ex Service charities are acutely aware of the likely impact of this action. Seven of the most established ex Service charities have come together to form a consortium called ‘SORTED!‘ which can support resettlement services and aid transition into civilian employment.

Recognising the part that they already play in this, The Royal British Legion, Royal British Legion Industries, The Poppy Factory, RFEA, Poppy Scotland and the Officers’ Associations of England and Scotland have formally joined forces to pool their expertise and wide range of employability services to give more clarity and coherence to their provision.

Historically ex Service charities have often been called upon to pick up the pieces when ex Service personnel have been unable to achieve independence through sustainable employment. The aim of the consortium is to put preventative measures in place to avoid problems. Linking in with existing provision, statutory services and other ex Service charities, we are certain this new and existing initiative will provide better support during transition and beyond.

The ultimate success of this welcome move will also be dependant on employers continuing to provide job opportunities for former Armed Forces personnel,  understanding the range of skills and experience they can offer in a civilian environment.

If you would like more information about the consortium, or find out how you can get involved please contact:

Adrian Peters on 07854544066 or Liz Rickaby on 07971222935

You can also keep up to date with the latest information about SORTED! via the official twitter account.

Armed Forces Day

In the run up to Armed Forces Day, RBLI has undertaken a range of activities from open events to tea parties.   We’re proud to support this event to heighten awareness of Armed Forces communities, both those who are serving and those who have served, whether recently or some time ago.

The transition into civilian life for many Armed Forces families can be tough enough and RBLI will continue to do all that it can to ease the path.

When RBLI launched its new strategy last year our objective of placing beneficiaries at the heart of our activities remained at the forefront of our delivery plans.   RBLI’s core beneficiary group has always been disabled ex Service personnel and ensuring this group remains our priority was never more important than it is today.  In order to effectively deliver our objective we’ve integrated our approach to service delivery.  This ensures that each individual can access whichever elements of our support services they may need to achieve sustainable independence.    LifeWorks, our assessment and employability support programme, continues to go from strength to strength with 67% of those who undertake the course and are in a position to work, moving into employment.   We’ve also developed LifeWorks+, which offers assessment and support to spouses and partners of Armed Forces personnel who find themselves seeking work.

RBLI’s week will culminate with the signing of a Community Covenant with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, committing to work in partnership to ensure those with an Armed Forces background do not find themselves disadvantaged within the community.  The transition into civilian life for many Armed Forces families can be tough enough and RBLI will continue to do all that it can to ease the path.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Throughout the country, people are counting down the days to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and extended weekend. Marking 60 years of The Queen’s reign; we’ve taken the opportunity to look back into our archives to follow the links with our monarch over 90 years of RBLI history.

Queen goes shopping (Pathe Footage)

Her Majesty was first made aware of RBLI and its activities in 1954 when she visited an exhibition at Lord Roberts Workshops which included a display of toys made by RBLI employees who had been injured in World War 2.    Following this, to mark our own 50th anniversary, she was treated to a tour of the Royal British Legion Village in Aylesford when she visited in December 1975.

During her 90 minute visit, Her Majesty received a tour of the poppy factory, the fancy goods warehouse, our nursing homes and the signs department, giving her the opportunity to see first hand the work undertaken on the Village.

She was joined by the Legion’s national Chairman, Mr Charles Busby CBE, former Chairman Lieutenant, Colonel Sir Gordon Larking of Loose, Admiral Sir Henry Moore of Wateringbury, the MP of  Tonbridge and Malling, Kent’s High Sheriff and the Council’s Chief Executive.

The Queen took time to chat to employees working on the village; taking a keen interest in all activities, many of which continue today. She was also given the opportunity to visit the Duchess of Kent Court flats where she met Mrs Taylor, a resident, who at that time had been living on the village for nearly 50 years.

Image courtesy of RBLV website

At the end of the visit Her Majesty the Queen unveiled a plague commemorating the village’s 50th Anniversary; which stands today as a reminder of the historic occasion.   Many of our activities continue to this day and our core vision to ‘provide quality care and support to members of the Armed Forces community and their dependents and to help disadvantaged men and women find meaningful and sustained employment’ remains as strong now as it was then.

In conjunction in with the Jubilee celebrations, RBLI have been raising funds to facilitate the furnishing of accommodation for LifeWorks course delegates via a Jubilee cake sale. To see photos of the spectacular Union Jack themed cakes, lovingly created by staff at RBLI, visit our Facebook photo album by clicking here.

ABF Chief Executive shown how LifeWorks funding is making a real difference

We were delighted to welcome Major General Martin Rutledge, Chief Executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity to our head office in Aylesford.  ABF has supported our LifeWorks course from the very start by funding delegate places for serving and ex-service personnel requiring extra support for the transition to civilian life.  With LifeWorks celebrating its first year this was a great opportunity to show Martin how ABF’s funding had made a real difference.

Martin also met with Yuvaraj an ex-Gurkha who served in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, in Afghanistan.  During his time serving in HM Forces, Yuvaraj developed vision and hearing problems, which were eventually diagnosed as a brain tumour and has subsequently been discharged and has now transitioned into civilian life.  ABF was one of a number of charities who funded essential household items and official documentation required to enable Yuvaraj to live independently with the support of family and friends.

We would like to thank ABF for their continued support and look forward to assisting the increasing number of wounded, injured and sick service and ex-service personnel gain independence via support and employment.