Armed forces champion for London announced

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.


Spotlight on veterans with new Health Education England appointment

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.


MoD promises changes after report into harassment in army

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.

New Generation

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.

Repeated Suggestions

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.

Compulsory Diversity

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.”


UK Government responds to VJ Day petition with pledge to commemorate Far East veterans

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.

Fitting Commemoration 

“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.


Veterans Find Strength in Coffee

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”. 
                                                                      Combat2Coffee website here

Rebuilding Lives After Sight Loss

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 hits record high at Royal British Legion

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.”

Armed Forces Day 2019: More Than 300 Events Held Across The UK And Overseas

More than 300 events have been taking place across the UK to mark this year’s Armed Forces Day. The annual event is a chance for the whole country to celebrate the work of service personnel, reservists, veterans, cadets and their families and friends. In her Armed Forces Day message, the Prime Minister thanked the military and said she is “proud” to celebrate the occasion.


More than 1,300 service personnel, cadets and veterans paraded at the national event in Salisbury, with Princess Anne taking the salute. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt visited the city to attend the parade and visit serving personnel in the military village, while there was a flypast by the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows and an aerial display by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment.

Salisbury will end the day’s celebrations with a concert including a performance by the Kaiser Chiefs. Elsewhere, the Scottish city of Glasgow has shown its appreciation for the military by holding a parade featuring past and present serving personnel. There was also a salute at the city’s cenotaph.


It followed celebrations in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh last week, where hundreds of servicemen and women turned out to march along George Street in honour of those who serve and have served in the military. Thousands turned out in Plymouth for the city’s local celebrations, with HMS Queen Elizabeth, RFA Fort Victoria, and RFA Tideforce all at anchor during the event.

Veterans and cadets also featured as they marched in the city. Last weekend, Armed Forces Day was celebrated in Northern Ireland, with around 15,000 attending celebrations in Lisburn. A parade was followed by a special event at Wallace Park. A Royal Marines unarmed combat display group entertained the audience, while the RAF Falcons parachute display team also dropped in. It was the last Armed Forces Day while the Army still has major units based in Germany. Music from tribute acts and a military band were among the highlights at a special event in Sennelager. At Normandy Barracks there have been musical celebrations as the community came together.


ARMED FORCES DAY: What Is It And Why Do We Celebrate It?

Armed Forces Day is a day for the public to come together with the UK military at events taking place right across the country, giving them an opportunity to personally thank the men and woman who currently serve or those who have previously served their country.

When Did It Begin?

Plans to celebrate our Armed Forces were announced in 2006 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and was called Veterans Day. In 2009 it was renamed Armed Forces Day and it has now been held annually on the last Saturday in June. The date of 27 June or the last week in June was chosen as it came the day after the anniversary of the first investiture of the Victoria Cross, in Hyde Park, London in 1857.

The day is a chance for members of the public to celebrate and show their support of the contributions, both past and present, of those who have served in the British Armed Forces.

Who Makes Up The Armed Forces?

The British Armed Forces is made up of three parts: the Royal Navy (Including Royal Marines), the British Army and Royal Air Force. The current strength of the UK Service Personnel is 192,160 which includes Regular, Full-time Reserve and Volunteer Reserve forces.

What Type Of Work Do The Armed Forces Do?

The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom and its residents, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also promote Britain’s wider interests, supporting international peacekeeping efforts and to provide humanitarian aid.

What Can You Do To Show Your Support?

There are hundreds of official events taking place to celebrate Armed Forces Day right across UK towns and cities this year. Why not go along to one of these events, go and talk to a veteran/serving soldier, sailor or air force personnel and find out what they get up to and have your chance to thank them in person. This year, the main Armed Forces Day celebration will be held in Salisbury and will include a live musical performance by the Kaiser Chiefs, free barbecue for serving military personnel, air show, military parade and afternoon tea for veterans.

Click here to find an Armed Forces Day 2019 event taking place near you.