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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.

Launch of Victor Project


We are looking forward to the launch of the first Victor Project, based on a partnership initiative that RBLI has developed with Blue Sky.   The first of these projects goes live in Medway on 16th April.    Blue Sky is a well respected charity working with ex offenders to provide training and development through employment.   We’ve combined our expertise in the ex Service environment to launch Victor – providing training, development and work to ex offenders with an Armed Forces background.     This first project will be to provide grounds maintenance services to Medway Council, who hope that the project will help them meet their objective of reducing re-offending in Medway.

RBLI is delighted to be working in partnership with Blue Sky, an organisation which shares our objective of providing independence through sustained employment.   Blue Sky was selected as the Number 10 Downing Street Volunteer Partner for 2011, recognising their contribution to Big Society objectives and acknowledged at a recent reception hosted by Rt Hon David Cameron.

We hope this will be the first of many successful projects delivered in partnership with Blue Sky; we are already working on the next one which we hope to be able to detail soon.

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.

New Partnership Project:

Next week we begin delivery of an exciting new pilot programme.  Working in partnership with Russet Homes, we will deliver an assessment and preparation for employment course to 10 residents from a local housing estate.  The project will run for 6 weeks and attendees will benefit from a range of employment related modules such as CV preparation and interview technique.   When they have finished the programme, we hope that attendees will have opportunities to take up work placements with RBLI,  Russet Homes or other local businesses.   We are pleased to be working with Russet Homes to deliver this innovative project, which we hope will be the start of a long and successful partnership.     The aim is to roll out the project to a wider group of residents and work with Russet Homes to support a range of employment initiatives that they are introducing to help residents get back to work.

We are pleased to be working with Russet Homes to deliver this innovative project, which we hope will be the start of a long and successful partnership.

This project is one of a range of partnership projects that RBLI will be developing and delivering over the coming months.   Look out for more details on each of these as they progress.

And finally…

We also look forward to continuing working in partnership with TRBL as they progress work on their employability strategy.    This is a real opportunity for a group of ex Service charities who already work closely both with TRBL and each other informally to take a more strategic approach to working in partnership for the benefit of our mutual beneficiaries.  The organisations involved are the Poppy Factory, Poppy Scotland, RFEA and the Officers’ Association and the aim is to develop and deliver an employability support model which will provide better access to information, advice and guidance through a ‘one stop shop’ approach.

Launching ‘VICTOR’

Continuing the theme of working in partnership, which will be a key focus of our work through 2012, we are also pleased to be working with the charity, Blue Sky to deliver ‘VICTOR’ – a project aimed to provide support to ex Service ex offenders.   

This project will provide employment support to move individuals into sustainable employment and reduce the risk of re-offending.    Customers will be given support with CV writing, developing job search skills, interview techniques whilst undertaking temporary employment and training in grounds maintenance work.  The first project launches in April with Medway Council who will contract out grounds maintenance work to the Victor team.   We look forward to further such initiatives being developed with other Organisations over the coming months.

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.