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09 Dec 21. SSAFA celebrates Christmas with Carol Service. Christmas is back at SSAFA! Wednesday 1 December saw the start of Christmas season, with our wonderful SSAFA London Christmas Carol Service at the beautiful Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks. So far the event has raised over £235,000 for our Central London Branch. A massive thank you to everyone who attended the event.
08 Dec 21. British Army veteran MP rues ‘missed opportunity’ as Commons rejects visa fees amendment. House of Commons voted against an amendment to waive £2,389 visa application fee for foreign and Commonwealth service personnel. MPs have rejected proposals to scrap visa fees for foreign-born UK veterans who want to remain in the country.
Two British Army veteran MPs – Labour’s Dan Jarvis and Conservative Johnny Mercer – had tabled an amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill to remove fees of more than £2,000 for personnel and their families who settle in the UK after five years’ military service.
The House of Commons voted 296 to 251, a majority of 45, against the amendment.
Dan Jarvis, a former Army officer, said the vote against the amendment was a “missed opportunity”, accusing the Government of a “complete disregard for our foreign and Commonwealth-born servicemen and women”.
Johnny Mercer, also a former Army officer and a former defence minister, criticised the Defence Secretary and said Mr Jarvis and himself will continue to follow up the case of visa fees.
The Government has proposed that troops from non-UK nations who have served in the British Armed Forces for 12 years may be able to stay in the country for free.
Mr Mercer described the 12-year figure as being “plucked out of the air”.
In May, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said there was a proposal to waive the £2,389 visa application fee for Commonwealth service personnel, in order to “recognise their contribution”.
A MOD spokesperson said: “The government is determined to address the issue of visa fees for the UK’s foreign born service personnel and earlier this year we launched a consultation to see if more could be done.
“Any new policy must be fair, and this amendment would have unfairly impact British service personnel who marry or have dependents from countries outside the UK.
“The proposed period of 12 years is in line with the length of time personnel initially sign up to serve, and takes into account the significant investment in their skills and training.” (Source: forces.net)
06 Dec 21. Support to Armed Forces community recognised with Gold Award. The Defence Electronics and Components Agency has once again been recognised for its support to the Armed Forces receiving the ERS Gold Award. The MOD’s Defence Electronics and Components Agency was one of ten Welsh businesses presented with the prestigious Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award at a ceremony in Cardiff The joint regional event held on November 17 at HMS CAMBRIA saw 140 employers from Wales, West Midlands and Wessex recognised for the outstanding support they give to the Armed Forces Community nationally. Representing the highest badge of honour, Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Awards are presented to businesses that employ and support those who serve, veterans and their families and this year’s awardees brings the total number of Gold holders to 493.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty said: “I would like to thank all the organisations who have proven their support for the Defence community during such unprecedented and challenging times. The vast range of those recognised this year demonstrates how employing the Armed Forces community makes a truly positive and beneficial impact for all employers, regardless of size, sector or location.”
Geraint Spearing, Chief Executive Defence Electronics and Components Agency also commented saying: “I am both delighted and immensely proud that DECA has received the Gold Award recognising our support towards the Armed Forces community that contributes significant experience and value to our organisation. To win an award, organisations must provide 10 extra paid days leave for Reservists and have supportive HR policies in place for veterans, Reserves, and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, as well as spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces. Organisations must also advocate the benefits of supporting those within the Armed Forces community by encouraging others to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and engage in the Employer Recognition Scheme.”
This year, organisations include NHS trusts, educational institutions, financial services, hotels, charities, law firms, police services, football clubs and museums. Nearly 50% are a small or medium-sized enterprise and 72% are private companies, demonstrating the wide range of organisations offering support to the military community regardless of size, sector or location.
The evening began with a performance from the Royal Marines Band in a sunset ceremony. Guests were then welcomed by the Chief Executive of the RFCA for Wales Colonel Dominic Morgan OBE who introduced the Chief of Defence People Lieutenant General James Swift OBE, who gave the opening address. The Welsh awards were presented jointly by Rear Admiral Keith Beckett CBE and Air Officer Wales, Air Commodore Adrian Williams OBE.
Mr Tony Fish, the MOD’s Regional Employer Engagement Director for North Wales said: “We’re delighted that so many employers in Wales have been recognised with this Gold Award. It is particularly pleasing that these employers have worked so hard to support our Armed Forces Community, during what has been an extremely difficult year. 2021 is the first year that there has not been one national award ceremony. This is due to the high number of winners (140 in total). Instead regional ceremonies have been held in Edinburgh, London and Wales, with Leeds on November 25.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, the currently serving (both regulars and reserves), veterans from the Second World War and those who have served in more recent conflicts, as well as their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.