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Chris Simpkins Visit

We were delighted to welcome Chris Simpkins, Director General of The Royal British Legion to RBLI last week.   Chris visited a number of areas of the business and took the opportunity to talk to RBLI employees about the work they do. In addition, we discussed opportunities that we could explore for our organisations to build on our collaborative working initiatives.

The Director General visited our Social Enterprise to observe the team making a range of products, including signs, pallets and toy model construction.  He was impressed by the significant changes since his last visit and was interested to hear about the recent monster truck build and, in particular, the size, scale and scope of this project.   
The Director General went on to meet the team delivering our LifeWorks programme and took the opportunity to talk to some of the soldiers undertaking the programme of assessment and employability related support.   Many of these are currently in the process of transitioning out of the Armed Forces due to injury.   

The visit concluded with a tour of the RBLI village site and an opportunity to talk to the Healthcare and Welfare teams about the integrated approach to delivering services such as healthcare, housing welfare and employment opportunities to our wider group of Armed Forces beneficiaries.   The team discussed the broad range of age groups, healthcare and welfare needs of individuals referred to RBLI and the very personalised approach that is taken.    The team provided a number of case study illustrations to our integrated services which enable individuals to develop at their own pace and to their maximum potential, fully embracing the RBLI philosophy of equipping our beneficiaries for independence through employment where possible and supporting them to prolong that independence.
Jane Waring spoke with Chris about the Health and Wellbeing programme that she is delivering to the Armed Forces Community.  Chris recommended that the RBL’s Education team should speak with Jane in order to share experiences and good practice.
Looking forward …

RBLI continues to work closely with The Royal British Legion, The Poppy Factory and Poppy Scotland as part of the Poppy Family.   We are looking forward to developing even more joint working initiatives with the Poppy Group in order to better serve the needs of the Armed Forces Community.  The strategic objectives of our organisations are clearly aligned and together we can make a real difference.

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.

Iain Duncan Smith Visit

Last Friday we welcomed The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Tracey Crouch MP for Chatham and Aylesford.  The Minister met many RBLI employees as we explained how our model of a Social Enterprise fits neatly into the Big Society Agenda.    The Minister also had an opportunity to meet some of the Armed Forces personnel who had sustained life changing injuries or illness attending our LifeWorks course.   They explained to him how the vocational assessment and employability training they had received during the week would help them to understand their employment options and compete more effectively for civilian work opportunities.   

We were able to feedback to the Minister some suggestions to enable us all to offer the widest range of services to former Armed Forces personnel

At the same time we hosted a meeting of representatives from KCC, Jobcentre Plus, G4S and Service Charities; including the Poppy Factory and Royal British Legion to explore how organisations could work together more effectively to improve access to services for former Armed Forces personnel seeking work.  We were able to feedback to the Minister some suggestions for quick and easy wins that would ensure better data capture and integration of services to enable us all to offer the widest range of services to former Armed Forces personnel.  Thus ensuring we can work together to help meet the principles of the Military Covenant.
The Secretary of State displayed a genuine feel and understanding of the work of RBLI.  He interacted positively with everyone he met and the visit was a most positive stimulus for all.