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18 September 2020 (Edition - Issue 43)

Government consultation – National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday for employers of Veterans 

The government is seeking views about a National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday for employers who hire former members of the UK regular armed forces. Under these plans, employers will pay no National Insurance on the salary of veterans they employ, for their first year after service.

The consultation is open until 5 October 2020, and HMRC would welcome further views from veteran employers and the veteran community.

Securing successful employment is one of the fundamental elements which allow those who have served in the Armed Forces to make a successful transition back to civilian life. The Government is committed to ensuring that veterans have access to support should they need it throughout their lives, and also to ensuring that individuals leaving the Armed Forces are as prepared as they can be for this.

This measure is one of a number which demonstrate the strength of the commitment by the Government to creating the conditions for veterans to find and secure sustainable high quality employment. The measure, announced at Budget 2020 in March, will exempt employers for any NICs liability on veteran’s salary up to the Upper Secondary Threshold in their first year of civilian employment.

This relief will be available to employers from April 2021. From April 2022, employers will claim this relief through PAYE in real time; however, transitional arrangements will be in place for the 2021-2022 tax year.

To read or respond to the full HMRC consultation please visit GOV.UK. For queries about the consultation please email: nics.correspondence@hmrc.gov.uk

 

The Scottish Government announces new co-chairs of the Veterans Employability Strategic Group


The Scottish Government is delighted to announce that Sue Bomphray, Director of HR Delivery & Advisory at Barclays, will be the new co-chair of the Veterans Employability Strategic Group (VESG) alongside Dominic Munro, the Scottish Government’s Director for Fair Work, Employability and Skills. This follows Mark Bibbey, the previous chair, leaving Poppyscotland.
 
The VESG dates back to 2016, following the Scottish Veterans Commissioner’s (SVC) report on Employability, Skills & Learning. The paper made 19 recommendations, the first of which was for the Scottish Government to establish a Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and to oversee activity to increase and improve employment opportunities for veterans.  
 
The VESG was announced in 2017 and has met ten times since then. The group has comprised representatives from the Scottish Government; Skills Development Scotland (SDS); Career Transition Partnership (CTP); Department for Work and Pensions; Veterans Scotland; Ministry of Defence/Army and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership. Since its inception the Group has contributed to progressing some of the other SVC recommendations including:
 
  • developing the relationship between CTP and SDS to avoid Service Leavers ‘falling between the gaps’ ensuring they have seamless access to SDS during and once their support from CTP ends;
  • establishing the work being undertaken by the SCQF Partnership to map military qualifications to the Scottish Framework which are recognised by employers and educational institutions in Scotland. They have so far published guides to Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers and Royal Logistic Corps qualifications;
  • producing a Scottish Veterans Employability Concordat, which is a commitment set out in three principles for those involved in the employment and training of veterans and their families to make Scotland the destination of choice for Service Leavers. This was launched in September 2018.
 
The Group still has a vital role to play in improving the opportunities for, and lives of, veterans in Scotland. Sue and Dominic are exploring options for the future focus of the Group and considering ambitiously its purpose, vision and membership to ensure it can deliver the remaining Commissioner recommendations and to establish its role beyond these.
 
The Scottish Government thanks Mark Bibbey for his leadership during the VESG’s first three years and is looking forward to Sue and Dominic’s fresh perspectives and new ideas to ensure the Group can continue to improve employment opportunities for our veterans.
 
General Support
Veterans Assist Scotland - looks to signpost and connect the Veterans' Community including their families, with the organisations and services best placed to help with information, advice and support that they may need from across Scotland.


It also include details of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions from across Scotland.

Resources

Veterans Scotland Information Booklet


The updated copy of the information booklet (June 2020) is available via the link here
Transition Support 

The guide was developed as a collaborative effort between Veterans Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and Army HQ Scotland.  Its aim is to provide information to those currently serving in the Armed Forces, Service Leavers and their families who are thinking of settling in Scotland. The Scottish Government aims to make Scotland the destination of choice for service leavers and their families and a great quality of life is certainly here for the taking.

 
Education, Employment & Training Support


Supporting veterans' transition to civilian life through employment

 

Summary

We welcome views on the National Insurance contribution holiday for veterans announced at Spring Budget 2020. This relief will be available to employers of veterans from April 2021.

This consultation closes at
11:45pm on 5 October 2020

Be prepared for furlough scheme ending

The UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close on 31 October 2020 following a series of changes to the level of support over the coming weeks.

The COVID-19 survey results published by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in June showed that 19% of the Scottish charities who responded said they had used the scheme to support their organisation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two thirds (66%) of charities with 11 or more employees, and half (50%) of charities with income of £100,000 or more had furloughed staff.

The ending of the furlough scheme could have serious implications, particularly for charities of this scale and their beneficiaries. Our survey found that that 42% of charities reported disruption of services to beneficiaries due to COVID-19. This was higher for charities working in housing (63%), mental health (65%) and social care (55%). It is therefore critical that affected charities fully understand the impact on their organisation and the need to be proactive in planning what this might mean for the activities and services they deliver.

Although the scheme is ending, there may be further sources of support available to charities depending on the work they do or the size of their organisation. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has an online coronavirus hub that contains information on dedicated funding in response to the pandemic and the Scottish Government has COVID-19 business support information on its website.

OSCR continues to work closely with key partners and stakeholders across the sector and government to try to build the best advice possible for charities at this time. Our COVID-19 guidance has essential information specifically for charities and highlights other organisations who may be able to offer support.

OSCR Chief Executive Maureen Mallon said,

‘The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has offered a significant level of support for many Scottish charities. It has allowed them to continue to operate and retain and support their employees during the pandemic.

‘With the scheme due to end soon, we expect this to have a significant impact, especially on those charities who are employers and who are experiencing an increase in demand at the same time as a decrease in income. It is important that charities are making the appropriate preparations in order to manage the loss of this support. This includes being transparent with beneficiaries as well as current and potential funders about any possible impact. Charities also need to consider what other steps they need to take as lockdown rules change, including considering the use of their reserves and reviewing the intended use of any designated funds that they may have.’

‘The feedback from our surveys tells us that COVID-19 has affected Scottish charities differently. Some have been unable to operate, whilst others have seen their services and programmes increasingly in demand. Whatever situation applies, it is important that trustees are taking well considered and correctly documented decisions. A failure to do this could affect confidence in charities at a time where their efforts may be required more than ever.’

Veterans celebrate civilian careers successes thanks to RFEA’s ex-forces programme

Thousands of veterans are celebrating securing meaningful employment in civilian roles, thanks to the Ex-Forces Programme, delivered by RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity.

The unique Ex-Forces Programme is available to all service leavers, reservists and veterans, irrespective of circumstances, rank, length of service or reason for leaving and offers regionally based, comprehensive career advice and job opportunities.

The programme has recently received a significant boost from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, of £267,000, which will enable RFEA to continue its ongoing support to the veteran community, which last year helped 19,758 ex-Military personnel.

Mark Lightowler, a former Army Captain, secured a lucrative Operations Manager role after seeking help from RFEA. He says:

“From the very first call I had from RFEA it was so very refreshing to hear and to speak to someone who spoke ‘the language’ and understood the needs and challenges of veterans looking for work in a civilian world. My Advisor is a very personable individual who offered sound advice, however, by far the most important attribute that RFEA demonstrated was taking the time to care, to really care.

“My Advisor phoned and/or emailed regularly with updates, details of employment seminars or with inspiring, uplifting and very welcome words of encouragement. He helped by giving some guidance on my CV construction so that it delivered the desired impact and tone with potential employers, by forwarding me job opportunities that were geared towards my skills and qualifications and by helping me identify employers that had signed the Armed Forces Covenant and were, therefore, more open to receiving applications from ex-Forces.

“Prior to starting my new job I had been off work for 6 months following a serious motorcycling accident. This meant that I was facing some financial difficulties and I don’t mind admitting my mental health was also taking a knock. When I received my job offer these difficulties melted away in an instant. It was a big relief not only for me but also my wife and family too. Not only had my new job given me the opportunity to feel a of worth again, but the social interaction I now have with my peers and subordinates alike means that I look forward going into work daily. Furthermore, I enjoy the fact that I am making a positive difference both in terms of work and in the lives of those that work for me. It’s a great feeling.

“I whole heartedly and unequivocally recommend the services of RFEA to all veterans looking for meaningful work and to employers who seek to enhance their workforce by recruiting some of the very best, loyal and trustworthy people our society has to offer – our veterans.”

Alistair Halliday, RFEA’s Chief Executive, adds:

“The Ex-Forces Programme is there for all veterans and reservists who need help to find work once they have left the Armed Forces. This means that later in life, if veterans face redundancy, underemployment, or difficulties fitting into a new work culture, we can help them. Serving in the Armed Forces means shorter relevant industry experience and less understanding and practice at the recruitment process than the civilians veterans are competing with for jobs. Our programme provides an essential safety net beyond transition from the Armed Forces and we are so grateful to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity for the continued support we have received to enable RFEA to carry out this essential work.”

Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity adds:

“Meaningful employment plays a major role in ensuring veterans and their immediate families can live a life of independence and dignity and we see RFEA’s Ex-Forces Programme as playing a vital part in helping them achieve that. We are delighted to be able to contribute to such a worthwhile initiative that reaches so many.”

The career support available for Armed Forces veterans and their families


At Veterans Scotland, we were delighted to see the Skills Development Scotland video clip, copied below, which describes the support available to all members of the Armed Forces Community, serving, reservists, veterans, spouses, partners and their children. The services and advice provided by SDS is available wherever you are in Scotland and they will assist you to develop your employment prospects. We feel that the work being done by SDS is a good example of how a statutory organisation can support our Armed Forces Community and ensure the Armed Forces Covenant continues to be delivered across Scotland. Congratulations to SDS for producing the video, which enhances and mutually supports the services already available to those in transition, veterans and families.

Leaving the Armed Forces is a big life change. Hear from Shaun on his experience and how we support veterans and their families in Scotland with those important career decisions.


https://youtu.be/nyHLzTWyYK0 
 

Welcome to goodmoves

Charity and voluntary sector recruitment. Are you looking for jobs within the third sector?  If so you may find what you are looking for on the Goodmoves website.

Funding & Financial Support

 
One hundred fantastic projects to bring our Forces communities together!


We’re thrilled to have awarded more than £859,000 to 100 Forces projects, that all focus on bringing our Forces communities together during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With various social restrictions still in place, we were keen to support engaging and enjoyable projects that sought to overcome the current challenges we are all facing and deliver activities that bring people together in a safe way.

Life in lockdown

Military charity and media organisation, BFBS, has been awarded £10,000 to make a second series of its popular radio programme Team Talk, which features the voices and views of military families and their children. The new six part series will focus on life in lockdown, offering support to those struggling, and highlighting real life case studies, such as the effects that the Covid pandemic has had on families and individuals in remote locations, plus any possible effects on the mental and physical health of the wider military community.

Nicky Ness, Director of Broadcasting & Entertainment BFBS, told us:

“We are absolutely delighted that Team Talk will continue with the support of the Forces Communities Together programme.  The series has gained in momentum and popularity over the last six months and given the impact of lockdown alongside the isolation being felt by many in our community, we felt there was still so much more the programme could do. Sharing fun and inspirational stories, offering a platform for unheard voices and championing forces families, children and the wider military community remains at the heart of its creative purpose.”

Supporting family life

Over in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Garrison Support Unit received £9,304 to deliver their ‘plant, play and progress’ project which will see them create a community garden where children can plant seeds and grow their own flowers and vegetables. The group hopes this interactive project will help to reverse the negative impact lockdown and isolation has had on the mental health of those within the community.

The group are using the project to build on their popular summer scheme for military families. One family said the activities run by the group have “made it possible for us to get back out and enjoy family life again”.

The Army Welfare Service in Wales received £8,500 to provide activity boxes for military children and their families, encouraging them to express themselves through art and craft. Boxes will arrive on the doorstep with tutorials sent to each family supported by a monthly Zoom call with an artist. The group plans to host a gallery showcase at the end of the project.

Still together, when apart

Each of the projects supported had to show their activities could take place safely during any ongoing social restrictions. This has led to a great mix of distance learning, digital comms and finding new ways to come together when we must stay apart.

Find out more

Find out more about the positive work we’ve supported in communities across the UK. Take a look at the full list of awardees, here.

New fund to improve life on base for our serving personnel and serving families

Grants of up to £20,000 are available for Armed Forces bases and stations for projects that will develop better spaces for recreation, leisure or for our serving personnel to relax in while off duty, through the launch of the NAAFI Fund.

The NAAFI Fund, launched today, will fund projects that enhance welfare and improve quality of life for serving personnel and serving families living on or near Armed Forces bases or stations.

In the first year of the NAAFI Fund, applications are encouraged for projects or activities that help to bring people together on military establishments and help reduce boredom or isolation.

Funding projects that improve life on base

This year, Armed Forces bases and stations can apply for a grant of between £5,000 and £20,000. Grants can be used to refurbish spaces, purchase equipment or run projects of up to a year.

Steve Marshall, Managing Director of NAAFI, said:

“We know that 2020 has been a difficult year, with our Armed Forces working hard. We’re delighted to be open for funding. You could use a grant from the NAAFI Fund to make a recreational space more comfortable, or to create an area with pool tables or games consoles. We are really looking forward to hearing your ideas about what would improve your life on base.”

Melloney Poole, Chief Executive of The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (the Trust) said

“We are delighted to be working with NAAFI to deliver the NAAFI Fund and we look forward to supporting good projects that make a difference to serving personnel and serving families living on or near Armed Forces bases.”

Applications are open

Armed Forces bases and stations have until the 23 November 2020 to apply for this round. You will first need to submit a short summary of 50 words or less, to be received by NAAFI in October 2020. More information is available in the programme guidance.

Find out more

Full programme details, guidance and resources are available via the Trust’s website, www.covenantfund.org.uk 


One is Too Many

Part of the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, the One is Too Many programme will award grants of up to £300,000 to two-year projects that aim to reduce suicide risks within vulnerable veterans in a coordinated and targeted way.

Introduction

Part of the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, the One is Too Many programme will award grants of up to £300,000 to two-year projects that aim to reduce suicide risks within vulnerable veterans in a co-ordinated and targeted way.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for this funding, you must be an Armed-Forces-supporting charity or CIC.

You can work with other organisations as part of your project. We encourage this, and expect that strong applications will work with relevant partners. A full list of eligibility is available in the programme guidance below.

What’s available

Grants of up to £300,000 for projects lasting up to two years are available. We would not expect to fund a project of less than £100,000 as this would be less likely to support the overall programme aims. We anticipate funding only 3-5 projects overall.

Themes and priorities

Your project must show that it will be likely to reduce suicides in veterans through

Providing direct support to groups of veterans who are at significant risk of suicide and are not accessing support 

or

Delivering a project that will have a clear and demonstrable impact on suicide prevention through changing how support is offered to save lives

There is more information in the programme guidance

Deadlines and dates to note

This programme will remain open until noon on 14th December 2020



Further details about this funding is available on he Covenant Fund website Link below:

Funding sourcesFundraising

Funding websites

Funds Online - the all-new funding website. Access over 8,000 funders giving a total of £8 billion! Find out more below now and subscribe today.

Funding at your fingertips

Find funding for your charity, community group or social enterprise using our free online search engine. From small grants to funding for big capital projects, we can help you track down the funding you need to make a difference in your community.

To see what is available, search for funds. To see full fund details and more than one page of results, please sign up or sign in.

Useful links

Institute of Fundraising

Resources, skills development and codes of practice for fundraising.

Charity Retail Association

Help with setting up and running a charity shop.

Public Contracts Scotland

Find out about public sector contract opportunities in Scotland.

Find your local Third Sector Interface

Third Sector Interfaces are local services which support your organisation, including helping you to find funding.

Business Gateway

Practical help, advice and support for new and growing businesses in Scotland, includes information on finance and grants.

 
 

Introducing two new programmes supporting the Armed Forces community...

 
 

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund:
Force for Change programme

We're excited to introduce a new, local grants programme awarding one-year grants of up to £20,000 for projects that seek to promote social inclusion and support Forces communities to become less isolated.

This year, we have an additional focus on tackling the impact of Covid-19, helping Forces communities move to the 'new normal' and supporting volunteers to carry out local projects.

Full programme details on our website.
 
Tell me more
 
   
 
 
 

The Tackling Loneliness programme

This new, large grant programme will award two-year fixed grants of £70,000 to projects that seek to tackle loneliness and isolation within Armed Forces communities.

We'd particularly like projects to work with groups within the Forces community who are traditionally harder to reach and tend not to engage in services and provision available to them.

A list of these groups, and further information about the priorities of this new programme are available on our website.
 
Tell me more
 
  

Funding dates for your diary...

The Trust currently has three funding programmes supporting the Armed Forces community. 

Full details of all our programmes are available on our website.
 
 
Tell me more
 
 
 
 

The Veterans’ Foundation continues to provide pandemic-based and other grants.  The former may be considered out-of-committee and decided upon within a week.  The deadlines for normal grant applications this year is the end of Sep 20 and the end of Dec 20.  The maximum grant in both circumstances is £30K and the application process is online, here:  https://www.veteransfoundation.org.uk/grant-application/

If you have any queries, please contact us at grants@veteransfoundation.org.uk
Health Support & Informattion

Our contact tracing app – Protect Scotland – is now available to download. It is:


Simple and easy to use

Private and anonymous

An extra tool to support #TestAndProtect Download today to help us stop the spread


Download the Protect Scotland app
protect.scot

Forces in Mind Trust funds veterans’ mental health conference for a further three years

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £45,000 to King’s College London to continue its sponsorship of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research Veterans’ Mental Health Conference (VMHC) for three years from 2021 to 2023.

The one-day Conference was originally set up as a response to the need for a reasonably priced event which would bring together a range of stakeholders with an interest in veterans’ mental health. The first Conference was held in 2015 and it has continued to increase in popularity, selling out each year. FiMT first sponsored the Conference in 2016.

Held at King’s College London, the Conference attracts a range of international speakers and delegates including prominent academics, researchers, and mental health practitioners. It offers attendees the chance to share ideas on emerging policies and interventions, and to promote and discuss new research findings. The aim of the event is to increase the understanding of the mental health needs of veterans and how they can be best supported.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says:

“I am delighted that FiMT will be sponsoring the Conference for another three years. Feedback from previous years has confirmed that this is an important and highly valued event where delegates can learn about the latest research on the mental health needs of veterans and their families, and interact directly with the researchers themselves. By funding this event, we are able to attract world-class speakers including political leaders, and it is a fantastic opportunity for delegates to network.

The low ticket price that our funding enables, together with the further discount we provide to members of Cobseo – the Confederation of Service Charities, ensures that even the smallest charity is able to attend and to contribute to the debate. This is a perfect example of how Forces in Mind Trust works within its Enabler Programme to promote better understanding and improve collaboration across the whole sector. We look forward to working with the team at King’s College London to continue to deliver a great conference over the next few years.”

Neil Greenberg, Professor of Defence Mental Health, King’s College London, says:

“The annual King’s Centre for Military Health Research conference has become a key opportunity for a wide range of professionals to come together to learn about new research and new policy initiatives. We have been lucky to have a great range of speakers in the past including Prince Harry, various UK ministers and a foreign Ambassador, and importantly we have had enthusiastic and appropriately challenging delegates. We have really appreciated the sponsorship of the Forces in Mind Trust and are very grateful for their continued support and involvement in this annual event.”

The Defence Medical Welfare Service


The Defence Medical Welfare Service is now providing welfare support for veterans undergoing a period of medical treatment, including hospital discharge, in the Scottish Borders. Between the Fife & Borders service the team also has some capacity to provide support in Edinburgh. To find out more contact Michael Lowrey, Welfare Officer Scottish Borders 07920702331

Email: lowrey@dmws.org.uk
Website: www.dmws.org.uk
Housing Support

A Scottish Housing Guide for people leaving the Armed Forces & Ex-service personnel


An updated copy of the Scottish Governments "A Scottish housing guide for people leaving the Armed Forces & ex-Service personnel" has now been published.  
 

Housing in Scotland Guide


Poppyscotland have recently produced an information guide for their Housing in Scotland booklet.
 

Housing Options Support during the current crisis


Housing Options Scotland have recently published a case study with Dorrie - one of their Military Matters clients - on the HOS website further details on the story are available here.

Membership News and Other Updates

POPPYSCOTLAND’S TEAM HELPS HUNDREDS OF VETERANS IN ITS FIRST YEAR

A service launched last year by a leading military charity to help veterans and their families has transformed the support available for the Armed Forces community living in Scotland, helping 340 clients during that time.

Poppyscotland’s six-strong Welfare Support Service team provides support to vulnerable veterans and to those identified as having complex needs. These can range from mental or physical health to problems with money and housing. As well as providing a helping hand for Poppyscotland’s clients, members of the team work alongside a wide network of agencies, professionals and volunteers to ensure that veterans get the help needed.

The service is available to the Armed Forces community across the whole of Scotland. The team, which is made up of four Welfare Support Officers and two Independent Living Advisers, uses the benefit of local knowledge and expertise to provide tailored support and guidance. In its first year, 340 clients accessed the service which resulted in 990 visits and with individuals receiving support with a wide range of issues including finance, mental health, isolation and homelessness.

Sharon Higgins, Deputy Head of Welfare Services at Poppyscotland, said: “The introduction of the Welfare Support Service was a significant step for Poppyscotland’s Welfare Services. The immediate impact saw unprecedented demand for support all over Scotland as we travelled to meet veterans in their homes.

“Fast forward nine months of delivery and the constraints of COVID-19 where all visits were halted. Despite the restrictions, our dedicated team has been able to develop new methods of contact and we have been creative in how we support individuals with their complex needs, resulting in many positive outcomes.”

One such veteran that has been helped by the service served with the Royal Navy for 27 years – a period which included three tours of the Gulf and one of Kosovo. After leaving the Navy, he realised that the trauma he witnessed had caused a lasting effect on him and he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

He approached Poppyscotland to request financial support in the hope that the charity could help fund a separate room in his home for him to seek the solitude he requires at times to sleep well and continue with self-help therapies in a quiet and safe space. Poppyscotland stepped in to co-ordinate funding this request and building will start on the property in the very near future.

The veteran said: “This time last year I thought I was worthless, that nobody cared. All those things I did for other people were done without any regard for myself, without any thoughts of praise, without any need for thanks. It was a bitter pill to swallow that in my own personal time of need, there appeared, at that time, to be no-one there for me.

“But, oh my how, that has changed. I will be eternally grateful to Poppyscotland. I wish I knew how to say ‘thank you’ more, as alone it feels inadequate. I’m blown away. I truly am. I cannot begin to explain how much this will improve the lives of my family and I.”

If you would like to find out more information about Poppyscotland’s Welfare Support Service, please visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-help/. The charity provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community. Money raised from the Scottish Poppy Appeal and Poppyscotland’s year-round fundraising enables them to deliver support to members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland by providing tailored funding and assistance. The charity also funds services in advice, employment, housing, mental health, mobility and respite

80 years on, Radar Tribute highlight that it was more that the flying few who won the Battle of Britain

80 YEARS ON, RADAR TRIBUTE HIGHLIGHTS THAT IT WAS MORE THAN THE FLYING FEW WHO WON THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Last surviving member of The Few pays tribute: “There is no doubt in my mind we should applaud all those who fought during those difficult months, not just the pilots. The RAF was the most sophisticated air force in the world at that time and we would not have prevailed unless everyone were true professionals and played their part.” John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway, 85 Squadron

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the RAF Benevolent Fund, the UK’s leading RAF welfare charity, has led a national tribute to all those who played a key role in the battle with a poignant light show at a former Battle of Britain radar site.

A special tribute was deemed important on the 80th anniversary of the battle by the Fund, which has been supporting members of the RAF Family for more than 100 years. The charity hopes the tribute will encourage the nation to stop and consider the contribution of those whose stories are not often centre stage when we reflect on the Battle of Britain, for example those who worked on the ground to support the famous ‘Few’ fighter pilots.

Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, CEO of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, explains:

“We often talk of ‘The Few’, the fighter pilots who took to the skies during the Battle of Britain. Their contribution was exceptional and it is important we remember them and their experiences. What we don’t reflect on enough, within the Battle of Britain story, are the lives and experiences of those who were involved on the ground during the battle. Particularly, the women who were behind the scenes, as radar operatives, filter room attendants serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force or members of the Royal Observer Corps.”

The light show, which took place at Bawdsey transmitter block in Suffolk, the first fully operational aircraft radar station in the world, pays homage to one group in particular, women of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force who worked on radar during the Second World War.

It was radar stations such as Bawdsey which provided invaluable intelligence during the Second World War and during the Battle of Britain when the Luftwaffe boasted nearly twice as many aircraft as the RAF. The video animation projected on to the current site features the images of the giant Chain Home radar towers that stood 360ft tall and ran all along the East Coast of the UK, and the female radar operatives and filter room assistants who played such a crucial role in receiving and reporting the information back to Fighter Command.

Women like Kath McLeod, 97, who worked at several radar sites during the Second World War including RAF Trelanvean in Cornwall and RAF Ringstead in Weymouth. Kath believes she was chosen for a radar role due her natural ability in science subjects at school. She met her husband Ian who also worked on radar in Cornwall and her contribution has encouraged her daughter Ann, 69, and her grandson James, 42, to follow in her footsteps as they too have served and are serving with the RAF.

The last surviving member of ‘The Few’, Battle of Britain pilot John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway, said of the contribution of radar:

In reality, the system worked so well that the time from a blip on the radar to a squadron in the air to meet it was six minutes, and the climb rates of the Hurricanes and Spitfires put the fighters at 15,000 feet within six minutes of leaving the ground. Time was a crucial factor in the battle. The ability to get to fighting altitude – 10,000 to 15,000 feet, usually – proved critical, and the aid of radar early warning would prove to be one of the vital British advantages in the battle.

“In effect, it took between 10 and 15 minutes after first spotting the Germans to put together a proper intercept at the point of attack.”

John, now aged 101, continued:

“I’m very happy to represent my comrades as the RAF Benevolent Fund celebrates the 80th anniversary in this imaginative way. There is no doubt in my mind we should applaud all those who fought during those difficult months, not just the pilots. The RAF was the most sophisticated air force in the world at that time and we would not have prevailed unless everyone were true professionals and played their part.”

In Scotland, the radome at Remote Radar Head Buchan, on the Aberdeenshire coast, joined the tribute to symbolise the scope of radar during the Second World War which spanned Britain’s coastline from the Shetland Islands down to Cornwall.

Like the ground crews and radar operators who were the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain, many RAF veterans and their partners remain unaware of the support they are eligible for, from the RAF Benevolent Fund. Last year the charity launched a major campaign to encourage RAF veterans and their partners or widows(ers), including members of the Royal Observer Corps, in need to get in touch with the charity.

Chris Elliot continued:

“We believe there are hundreds of thousands of veterans out there who need support but are either unaware of the help available or are too proud to ask. That is why we’re calling on the public to help us find them before it’s too late. They may be your friends or relatives. If you know of someone who might need some support, get in touch today.” 

If you know any RAF veterans and their partners in need, refer them to the Fund by visiting rafbf.org or by calling 0300 102 1919.

Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust provide £250,000 to support military during COVID-19 pandemic

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has provided SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity with a grant of £250,000 to support the military community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The £250,000 grant, part of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust’s Covid-19 Impact Programme, aims to support those most severely and adversely affected by Covid-19 until October 2020.

The Covenant Fund is administering this Covid-19 Impact Programme on behalf of the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office following their allocation of emergency funding from DCMS and HM Treasury in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SSAFA’s Covid-19 Frontline response consists of their helpline, Forcesline, Mentoring and Casework services to those most in need during the pandemic.

The charity will provide a holistic service whereby beneficiaries can contact Forcesline to receive help in times of need or hardship. The beneficiary will then be referred to either a local branch to receive direct support from a caseworker, or to the Mentoring service to provide 1-2-1 support post-service.

Sir Andrew Gregory, Controller at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said:

“This most generous grant to support SSAFA’s integrated Covid-19 emergency referral pathway will assist many in times of need and hardship. The consequences of the pandemic have been felt, in various ways, by everybody, including those serving in our Armed Forces, veterans and their families.”

“Though some normality is returning, the need for our support continues to grow, not least as, during the lockdown, some who should have received help felt unable to reach out for assistance. They have struggled in isolation; their problems have spiralled out of control and they are now in crisis. It is our duty to ensure they are not left behind.

“We are deeply grateful for this opportunity to take a leading role in supporting the Armed Forces community by bolstering our trusted Forcesline, Casework and Mentoring services. Without this tremendous grant and our ongoing partnership with the Covenant Fund, we would not be able to reach those who need SSAFA’s help now more than ever.”

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