New Tweets and Facebook Posts Added
Operation Banner Commemorations
RBL Special Circular for Remembrance Issued
Armed Forces Pay Increase
Landmark Pension Ruling
Veterans Gateway, Yes or No?
HorseBack UK Update
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Two million public service workers including the Armed Forces are reportedly set to be given a £2 billion pay rise. The Times reports that soldiers will receive an increase of 2.9%, while police officers and dentists/consultants will both receive a 2.5% pay rise. Meanwhile, teachers and school staff are expected to receive a 2.75% rise and civil servants 2%. The newspaper suggests the Treasury will unveil the biggest public sector boost for six years on Monday before Theresa May’s tenure as Prime Minister comes to an end.
Speaking to Forces News on Thursday, the Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said improved pay was one of her priorities before the new Prime Minister is announced. Public sector pay rises were capped at 1% after the Conservative-led coalition came to power in 2010. Theresa May then continued with the cap until last year. Jonathan Cribb, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told the Times: “These public sector pay rises are higher than last year’s and considerably higher than the 1% for many years before that.
“It is the highest nominal pay increase since the coalition. But these increases are still slower than pay rises that are happening on average in the private sector. “With the partial exception of schools, there seems to be no new money to fund these pay rises, meaning savings will have to be made elsewhere.” The new pay rises are expected to be funded by existing budgets. Last month, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to give “fair pay” to the military and end privatisation in the Armed Forces.
The appointment of London Assembly Member Len Duvall as informal armed forces champion for the capital has been welcomed by London VAPC. The announcement was made as part of an updated Armed Forces Covenant signed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It commits to supporting the armed forces community and includes measures around housing, welfare and collecting data on veterans sleeping rough.
Len Duvall’s role will involve chairing a series of stakeholder round tables on behalf of the Mayor. London VAPC vice-chairman Jim Blake said: We’re pleased to see the Greater London Authority (GLA) reaffirm its commitment to the Armed Forces’ Covenant.
The news that Len Duvall has been appointed as the GLA’s informal armed force’s champion is also very welcome. I’ve already been to a first meeting at County Hall and spoken with him. His commitment and enthusiasm are evident and we’re very pleased he has taken on this role. We hope that, eventually, the role can become formal.
The need for London to appoint an armed forces champion was highlighted in a 2016 University of Kent report commissioned by London VAPC: Homeless Veterans in London: Investigating Housing Responsibilities.
The report has subsequently been updated twice, most recently this month following a workshop on housing policy held by London VAPC in June 2019. London local authorities, GLA members, including Len Duvall, charities and interested organisations all contributed.
All 3 reports can be read on the University of Kent’s website.
Janis Mumford, Head of Integrated Services based in the Leicester office, has been appointed to the role of Chairperson of the East of England Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee. After a rigorous selection process, which involved being interviewed by the Head of Veteran’s UK, Janis received the appointment by the Secretary of State.
The role of the committee is to provide assistance to veterans and create awareness of their needs. They also review government initiatives regarding the veteran’s community and provide informed, factual advice to the ministry. The ultimate aim is to respond to veterans’ needs and issues within their particular region whilst at all times retaining their independence and integrity.
HEE has a mandate to support both veterans and reservists armed forces, so this appointment is pertinent to the work that we do. Veteran’s health is also close to Janis’s heart, after spending 7 years in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and as a member of the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association. Janis is also still in touch with friends and family who served with the Royal Navy for long periods of time.
There is ongoing research into veterans and the issues that they, and their families, face and the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre affiliated to the Veterans and Families Institute for Military and Social Research is a good place to start for anyone who might be interested in finding out more.
On her appointment, Janis said:
I was absolutely delighted to be offered this opportunity and I really do see us making difference to the lives of veterans.
What is interesting, and people may not realise this, but veterans are not a homogenous group. We have veterans from World War 2, the Falklands, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan/Iraq. The demographic and needs of these groups differ widely, as one might imagine.
The armed forces suffer from unacceptable levels of sexual offences, discrimination and bullying because of a pack mentality among the mostly white, middle-aged men who make up the senior ranks, a government report has found.
The Ministry of Defence has announced measures to persuade victims of such behaviours to come forward after the report concluded that many have stayed silent for fear of being seen as a troublemaker. “Many simply consider that reporting inappropriate behaviour would get them nowhere,” according to the report by Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston, the new chief of the Air Staff.
The report was commissioned in April after allegations surfaced of a sexual assault against a teenage female soldier. It said a “new generation” of armed forces personnel, including a greater proportion of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, women and other “underrepresented groups”, had “grown up in a more open and permissive society” than their forebears, it found.
However, those people now often find themselves “led by a cohort described by one external organisation as a ‘pack mentality of white middle-aged men, especially in positions of influence’ whose behaviours are shaped by the Armed Forces of 20 years ago”. It added that a “significant number” of military personnel have experienced “bullying, discrimination and harassment, including sexual” and that there was a “deficit of trust” in complaints systems, with women and people of minority ethnic heritage more likely to find themselves dragged into disputes.
There have been “repeated suggestions” that those in the military are not reporting inappropriate behaviour because they fear the consequences of doing so, the report said. It added that some personnel thinking about making complaints were worried about the “impact on their career prospects” and “being perceived as a trouble-maker”, while “many simply consider that reporting inappropriate behaviour would get them nowhere”.
The armed forces were also found to be lagging behind wider society in dealing with issues associated with the #MeToo movement, while the use of language in the military “can be inappropriate and offensive, simply through a lack of understanding of how it may be perceived by a minority group”. In response, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the newly created Defence Authority will have a role in investigating allegations such as sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination and give personnel greater opportunities to make complaints anonymously.
Other measures included new compulsory diversity and inclusion training and a harassment survey will also be introduced in 2021 as part of a “shift in culture”, according to the department. “While the great majority of servicemen and women go above and beyond what their duty demands of them, there is an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour in some areas,” the MoD said.
Inappropriate behaviour “has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces”, the defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt, added. “This report sends a clear message and I am committed to ensuring its recommendations are delivered in full. “In addition to the report, I want to ensure non-commissioned officers are able to address poor behaviour when they see it. They are the moral compass of the armed forces.”
The UK Government has pledged to “repay the debt” by commemorating the 75th anniversary of VJ Day next year.
A petition, launched to campaign for greater recognition of the “Forgotten Army”, which fought in the Far East during the Second World War, has already gathered more than 12,000 signatures and has gained the support of cross-party politicians and regiments such as the Gordon Highlanders. The latter lost hundreds of soldiers during the intense fighting, and many died in prisoner of war camps, where they experienced horrific conditions. Westminster has now responded to calls for a proper appreciation of VJ Day with a vow to create a fitting tribute, as they did for D-Day veterans last month.
They stated on Thursday: “The Government values VJ Day commemorations as an opportunity for the nation to show their gratitude to veterans and acknowledge their heroics in the most challenging of environments. “The Government believes it is important to commemorate the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women and gratefully acknowledges the responsibilities that our country’s Armed Forces assume on behalf of us all. “We recognise the importance of VJ Day and how it was instrumental in bringing an end to the Second World War. “Several key events were held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VJ Day in 2015, some of which were attended by veterans and ex-prisoners of war. “The 75th anniversary of VJ day next year will be an important occasion for us to repay that debt once again – to the veterans of the campaign, to all those who lost their lives, and to the many prisoners of war and civilian internees who suffered in captivity.
“VJ Day commemorations are an opportunity for the nation to acknowledge the endurance and determination they showed in continuing the fight in the most challenging of environments to bring the Second World War to an ultimate end three months after VE Day. “The Government has and will continue to commemorate VJ Day. The Ministry of Defence is working with stakeholders to develop a fitting commemorative programme to recognise this important community of veterans and those who lost their lives.”
VJ Day next year falls on August 15, 2020.
As you know we occasionally dispatch “Our Man” to find new support initiatives for our Veterans, this is his latest inspirational find. Editor
After serving with the Army for 12 years and being medically retired from his subsequent career as a prison officer, 45-year-old Coffee2Combat founder Nigel Seaman began suffering from depression, anxiety and flashbacks from an incident experienced during his time on operations with the armed forces.A private counsellor referred Nigel to the Combat Stress organisation and with support and intervention from them, he was formally diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).With their help, Nigel was accepted onto a 6-week trauma related course which has assisted in his ongoing recovery from this terrible mental health condition and he is now starting to feel more and more like his old self.During his time working with Combat Stress and after completing the 6-week trauma course, Nigel was referred to Help 4 Heroes for some ongoing support in the community. Since then, the Help 4 Heroes organisation along with Combat Stress have been the backbone of Nigel’s recovery and their support and encouragement were the inspiration for the creation of Combat2Coffee– a way for Nigel to provide purposeful rehabilitation, veteran outreach & a training course to recovering veterans and their families to give back to the support network that Nigel says, “saved his life”.
Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for ex-Service men and women with severe sight loss. Founded in 1915 and previously known as St Dunstan’s, Blind Veterans UK has supported more than 35,000 Armed Forces and National Service veterans to rebuild their lives after sight loss. They help veterans to learn vital life skills and giving them the tools they need to be safe in their own homes. This is accomplished by giving veterans free rehabilitation, training and support they need to live independent lives.
Their beneficiaries range from National Service veterans who lost their sight later in life due to age-related conditions, to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans blinded on duty. It doesn’t matter when a veteran served or how they lost their sight, they can help. Services to carers and family members, whether in the form of information and advice or by simply giving them the opportunity to take a break can also be provided.
Blind Veterans UK has a network of community support teams all over the UK who give blind veterans the rehabilitation and training they need closer to them, either in their own home or in their local area. They organise activities and events such as lunches, reunions and clubs, which gives our veterans the opportunity to be part of a community with a shared experience. With two dedicated centres in Brighton and Llandudno that provide vital rehabilitation, training and respite care to promote independence and well-being. As well as providing free specialist equipment, they also support veterans to find new hobbies such as cooking, art and craft or a new sport.
Currently supporting over 4,700 vision-impaired veterans, which is more than ever before in the charity’s history, they know there are many more who need and deserve their help, and as they enter the second century of service, they remain committed to a belief that no one who has served our country should battle blindness alone.
Contacting Blind Veterans UK
If you, or someone you know, believes they are entitled to receive Blind Veterans UK’s free lifelong support you can call them free on 0800 389 7979. More information about receiving Blind Veterans UK’s support, including the criteria required, can be found here.
Legacy income at the Royal British Legion hit a record high of £22.5m as overall income rose to £163.3m.
In the latest accounts for the charity, which cover the year to 30 September 2018, overall income at the charity was 3 per cent higher than in the previous year.
Donations, not including legacies, also increased, from £23.8m to £26.4m, the accounts show.
Legacies had previously stood at £21.2m before increasing by almost £1.3m in the latest accounts.
The figures run counter to the collective trend among the UK’s biggest charities, which have generally seen income from fundraising fall, offset by rises in legacy income.
Third Sector’s analysis of the 155 best-known charities that make up our Charity Brand Index found that income from fundraising had collectively fallen by £300m to £4.8bn, while legacy income rose from £1.5bn to £1.6bn.
The Royal British Legion’s accounts also show that total expenditure increased, from £155.3m to £165.3m.
Once gains on investments were taken into account, the charity had an overall net income of almost £11.4m.
The number of staff at the charity earning more than £60,000 rose by 50 per cent, from 26 to 39, the accounts show.
A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said: “The Royal British Legion’s financial landscape is reflective of the organisation as we evolve and adapt to the changing needs of our beneficiary community, and our response to changes and challenges within fundraising practice and donor behaviour.”