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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.

National Apprenticeship Week:

RBLI starts National Apprenticeship Week by welcoming a further apprentice to our team and monitoring next steps for another.  Callum Orpin joins our Property Services Team this week.    One of the apprentices working in our Healthcare Team having recently completed her apprenticeship with RBLI  has just commenced full time nursing training as a result. 

For RBLI, having apprentices in our business continues to be a valuable and rewarding experience, providing a number of business benefits.   We are confident our apprentices gain a wide range of benefits in return. 

“The apprenticeship has proven to be extremely diverse, and I have been given the opportunity to undertake a variety of different roles and responsibilities each providing me with masses of knowledge, experience and skills that are invaluable.” Nicole Freiter, RBLI Marketing Apprentice.

Nicole Freiter, currently serving an apprenticeship with our Marketing Team, is testament to that and you can read her story at For more information about apprenticeships visit

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.

K’nex Big Build Unveiled:

This week our latest K’NEX big build project was finally unveiled.   After 1,000 hours of work and 6 weeks of trans atlantic travel,  the life size Grave Digger monster truck arrived in San Antonio to start its tour of America.
Grave Digger was built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the American Monster Truck and 20th anniversary of construction toy company K’NEX.   Working in partnership with K’NEX and Feld Entertainment, the life size truck was built by the Assembly team here at RBLI using no less than 226,000 pieces of K’NEX.

The monster truck had become a familiar site in our factory at Aylesford as staff and visitors watched it progress from a very large pile of K’NEX pieces into a resplendent copy of the original Grave Digger truck.   It had become so much a part of RBLI, that we were sorry to see it loaded into its container in late November to begin its 5,000 mile journey.    It will now tour the Monster Jam festivals across America before reaching its final resting place – Digger’s Dungeon in North Carolina.
This has been another great K’NEX build project for the RBLI Assembly Team and we await with anticipation details of the next one! Watch this space for videos of the construction process!

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.

Christmas comes early at RBLI

A Christmas party for children with disabilities was held this week in memory of David Rowlands, MBE a former director of RBLI. The children enjoyed party food, face painting, an entertainment show and meeting Santa and his reindeers.

Special thanks to everyone involved at M4S, for their help inviting the families involved and much appreciated help on the day.

It was a fabulous day and a great finish to 2011.

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