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Victor Project welcomes Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice


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.


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.


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 For more information about events at Maidstone Museum please call 01622 602 838 or visit


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.

LifeWorks Journey Week 2012 Update

Thank you to our friends who have supported the LifeWorks Journey Week 2012 and shared our features, in particular: ABF the Soldier’s Charity (@Soldierscharity), SSAFA Forces Help (@SSAFAForcesHelp), The Army Families Federation (@the_AFF), St Dunstan’s (@Stdunstansnews), Honour Our Forces (@Honourourforces), Support Our Forces (@SupportUKForces), The British Forces Foundation (@BFFtweets), Shipwrecked Mariners (@ShipwreckedSoc) and I’m Getting Out (@imgettingout) to name but a few.

To mark the end of this feature we would like to finish with RBLI coach Shaun Maloney.  With a 24-year Army career behind him, alongside his success in the training industry, Shaun has the experience and knowledge to guide veterans and service-leavers to meet their employment potential for success on Civvy Street.

For more information on RBLI’s LifeWorks courses;
call the LifeWorks specialist team free on 0800 319 6844
or view the interactive LifeWorks Brochure

LifeWorks Journey Week 2012

Lifeworks, supported by ABF the soldiers’ charity, is an innovative employment guidance service for the Armed Forces Community, enabling them to build on their existing skills beyond the Armed Forces and achieve sustainable work.

This week (13-17th Feb) is RBLI’s LifeWorks Journey Week 2012, each day we have been releasing former LifeWorks delegates’ video journeys to:

To round off LifeWorks Journey Week 2012 we are releasing a new interactive LifeWorks Update Brochure which will explain how LifeWorks can help, when it will be provided and how the course has developed.

2011 in numbers…

When reviewing RBLI’s achievements in 2011 my eye was quickly drawn towards a series of numbers:

  • We have enabled 350 people to find employment through the Work Programme and have started assisting 4700 individuals who are long term unemployed.
  • We have given 5224 members of the Armed Forces community, employment and training information, advice and guidance through the Civvy Street programme.

  • LifeWorks, our new vocational assessment service, has worked with 45 wounded, injured and sick ex Service personnel.
  •  65 members of the Armed Forces have attended the Army Recovery Courses (ARC) on our site in Aylesford, Kent.

  • We have supported 3 young ex-Gurkhas, one of whom has recently started employment in our Signs Department, by providing accommodation in our village.
  •  We are proud to have a workforce consisting of 88 employees with disabilities.
  • 300,000 pieces K’NEX (construction toy), have been assembled by our specialist team for a range of global displays (see our monster truck).

  • 237,000 new pallets have been built by our Pallet Department. 510,000 other pallets have been inspected, maintained and returned to the system.
  • Our village hosts 50 people in our high dependency care home, 38 in our assisted living home and a further 137 in our houses.
  • 3 new apprentices have joined our team. We hope that this number will grow in 2012.
  •  With a combined age of 153, 3 members of our Senior Management Team, successfully completed the Maidstone Half Marathon and the hope is that the number of RBLI runners will increase in 2012 thereby reducing the average age of participants!

  •  54 local children with special needs and their carers attended a Christmas Party as part of our own charitable contribution to our community.
  •  504 people ‘follow’ @RBLI on Twitter.
  •  RBLI videos have been watched 1,047 time on YouTube.

A total of 300 RBLI staff made all of the above numbers happen. Of course, the numbers merely give some idea of scale of effort. What is less easy to describe is the dedication, passion and commitment that is required to deliver such high quality services that I see as I visit all of our activities. I do hope that our blog and social medias will, through articles and photographs, better illustrate the work of RBLI and all our staff.

From all at RBLI, I wish you a very happy 2012.

Looking Forward…

Future Horizons:
This week sees the launch of the Future Horizons Programme.   This important initiative, which will run for the next 12 months, will help around 600 early service leavers transition out of the Army and back into civilian life.   The programme will be delivered by a partnership of ex Service charities and private organisations that have pooled their expertise and experience to develop it.
Early service leavers are individuals who, for a range of reasons. complete less than 4 years of their Armed Forces career.  They are therefore not entitled to the full suite of transitional support available.   Often their career with the Armed Forces is cut short unexpectedly and they find themselves experiencing real problems with transition, resulting in increased vulnerability to issues such as crime and alcohol abuse.  The initial pilot project will be delivered from the Army base in Catterick, engaging early service leavers before they leave to help them better adjust during transition.  RBLI is one of a number of organisations partnering up to deliver Future Horizons and was instrumental in developing the assessment tool that will be used to identify support requirements on leaving.  We will also deliver support to those who choose to settle in the South East of England with  RBLI Advisers providing pre employment advice and linking individuals with mainstream programmes such as Work Programme.

“The initial pilot project will be delivered from the Army base in Catterick, engaging early service leavers before they leave to help them better adjust during transition”

The Future Horizons Programme will be funded by the Forces in Mind Trust.   The launch of the Trust was announced this week at the premiere of ‘War Horse’, the new Steven Spielberg film.  The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry has pledged partnership support and will back Trust funded projects with its own grants.
RBLI is proud to be a partner in this important initiative which will demonstrate how ex Service charities and private organisations can effectively use their combined expertise to provide an holistic approach to supporting Armed Force personnel.

A Festive Update

In the run up to the festive season, I’m pleased to report that we remain very much on track with delivery of the Strategy we launched earlier this year. There have been a number of successes which demonstrate this. We have continued to support the work of the Army Recovery Capability, having just hosted a further assessment and training course. Our training team has delivered a number of LifeWorks courses and we are proud to report that delegates from these courses are now moving into employment and further vocational training.

Our training team has delivered a number of LifeWorks courses and we are proud to report that delegates from these courses are now moving into employment and further vocational training.

Social Enterprise has recently secured a contract to provide services to the MOD as well as adding a number of new customers for signs, mail house, printing and fulfilment services to its portfolio. The number of customers supported into work through Work Programme continues to grow and we have successfully implemented two Access to Work contracts for the delivery of workplace assessments across the South of England, London and the Home Counties.

Our Property Services team have been invited to tender to provide grounds maintenance work around Kent and a new and exciting project which will provide employment for ex Service, ex offenders that we will deliver in partnership with Blue Sky will now go live in Spring 2012. The Welfare and Healthcare Team continue to support an increasing number of beneficiaries with high quality care, accommodation, advice and guidance.

The latest K’nex ‘Big Build’ project, which has generated much interest and intrigue over the last few weeks will be unveiled early in the New Year when it finally reaches its destination in Houston, Texas. We look forward to providing more detail on this project in January, including information and video footage relating to the build process.

We look forward to providing more detail on this project in January, including information and video footage relating to the build process.

I’d like to wish all our customers, partners and friends a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you for your ongoing support; I look forward to working with all of you to continue our Strategy delivery in 2012.

Christmas Baubles Image by Petr Kratochvil