Sponsored by SSAFA
04 Jan 22. Kirsty Bushell, the National Vice Chair of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has been made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours List in recognition of her 10 years spearheading the strategic direction of the charity, and of more than 30 years’ voluntary work in total for the organisation.
Included in the citation for Kirsty Bushell CBE – a retired Royal Air Force Wing Commander – is:
“Kirsty has proved inspirational in the role of National Vice Chair of SSAFA by playing a pivotal role in transforming the Charity, being instrumental in the creation of the Military Wives Choirs Foundation and in doggedly furthering the cause of women and families within the Armed Forces Community. Hundreds of families with additional needs children, many suffering relationship breakdown, hundreds of wounded, injured and sick service personnel, and thousands of female choristers have had their lives improved by her eloquent and persuasive advocacy on their behalf.”
Of her award, Kirsty said: “This honour recognises the great association that is SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity and my small role in our esteemed support to our Armed Forces community since 1885, recognition of the part we play in supporting families, service women and men, and our veterans.
“From my childhood spent in unformed youth organisations, 24 years in the RAF, and supporting SSAFA for more than 30 years, it is a huge privilege to have helped shape our continuing relevance, compassionate, practical and understanding support.
“The volunteers and staff of SSAFA who tirelessly ensure our Armed Forces community is recognised, supported, given access to services and can live lives with independence and dignity are all recognised in this honour.”
“The joy, purpose and connectedness of our community, from direct support from SSAFA to beneficiaries to growing our talented team and building resilience means we are stronger together.”
19 Jan 22. Rural homes give veterans the chance to rebuild. The Buchanan Trust is creating homes for armed forces veterans, with support from the Government’s housing agency Homes England.
Set up in 1918 by Robert Buchanan in memory of his son Alan who died in World War I, the Buchanan Trust has been helping former service personnel readjust to civilian life for more than 100 years.
In 2018 the trust also became an almshouse provider, offering veterans and their families quality homes and the opportunity to gain skills and experience in the agricultural and construction sectors in rural Herefordshire.
Drew is no different. Since leaving the armed forces, the Trust has helped him to think about his next steps. He’s one of the first residents to move into the Trust’s new North Farm site, a redundant farmyard which has been transformed into four new homes with the help of a £152,000 grant from the Government’s Affordable Housing Programme.
Designed for people living with physical injuries or reduced mobility, the mixed size accessible bungalows are built around a courtyard with a communal meeting room, creating a sense of community and enabling veterans to support each other as they get used to civilian life.
The site will provide six homes in total, with further plans to convert a milking parlour, dairy, stables and hayloft into two, two bedroomed cottages, one with full disabled access.
As identified by charity Help for Heroes, former service personnel are particularly interested in working in the rural, farming and forestry sectors.
North Farm is designed to address this, forming part of the Buchanan Trust’s wider vision to create a national facility for former service men and women to live in a community where they can help each other to recover, learn, grow, and work.
For Drew, it’s chance to reflect and start to plan for the future: “I’m grateful for having the chance to rebuild my life since I have come to the Buchanan Trust.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Jan 22. Making the Civil Service a Great Place to Work for Veterans. Detail of the ‘Great Place to Work for Veterans’ initiative. In 2018 the Government published the first ever Strategy for our Veterans and followed this up in 2020 with the Veterans Strategy Action Plan which set out the first steps the Government is taking to achieve its ambition of making the United Kingdom the best place to be a veteran anywhere in the world. Making the Civil Service a Great Place to Work for Veterans is just one part of achieving this ambition.
There are around 2.2 m Armed Forces Veterans in the United Kingdom and every year around 15,000 people leave the Armed Forces. Around 60% of them are under 35 with most seeking to take up a new career or job opportunities in civilian employment. As well as making the Civil Service the most inclusive employer in the UK the Government is committed to maximising the support and recognition for veterans in society. This includes those aspects and opportunities, such as employment in high quality jobs, which help them to flourish and successfully make the transition from life in the Armed Forces to civilian employment. Veterans also bring with them unique skills and experience and many of the values which the Civil Service also thrives on; a commitment to public service, team work, inclusion, creativity and drive.
A Great Place to Work
In February 2020, the Government announced the introduction of a new initiative to make the Civil Service ‘A Great Place to Work for Veterans’. Many veterans already work in the Civil Service and contribute a huge amount to the organisation, and this initiative aims to encourage more veterans to take this step. These new measures are focused on roles at all grades, functions and professions across the Civil Service.
We are now taking the first step in delivering this and meeting the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to make it easier for veterans to secure interviews for Civil Service roles.
As a result veterans who meet the minimum criteria for a role will progress to the next stage of selection. In most cases this will be an interview, but depending on the vacancy it may be another method of selection such as an online test or an assessment centre.
Early Adopter phase and wider roll out
The scheme completed an early adopter phase in five early adopter departments: the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice, National Crime Agency and the Home Office (including Border Force). The Welsh Government also ran the scheme. This Early Adopter phase allowed the Civil Service to conduct user testing (including research) of recruitment solutions, ensured the experience for veterans, recruiters and managers was a positive one and helped evolve the scheme so that it can be successfully rolled out across the Civil Service.
From November, we began to roll out the initiative across the Civil Service. Please note that initially not all job vacancies in all Departments will be selected for the Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative. Roles available will be clearly marked.
If you are an applicant and are unsure, you should contact the vacancy manager or recruitment point of contact. We expect the majority of vacancies will be part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative by 31 March 2022.
Roles selected for this initiative will be externally advertised, and can be either temporary or permanent, and at any grade.
To be eligible for this scheme in the Civil Service, you must:
- have served for at least one year in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces (as a Regular or Reserve); this includes time spent training
- be in transition from, or ceased to be a member of, HM Armed Forces
- not already be a civil servant, or be employed by a Civil Service Commission accredited public body
There is no maximum time limit from when you left HM Armed Forces to be eligible for this initiative.
Using the initiative
When you apply for a role through Civil Service Jobs, you will be prompted to enter whether you are eligible for the Great Place to Work Initiative and whether you would like to apply for the role through this route.
Please note that during pre-employment checks for a role in the Civil Service, your employment history will be checked. An attempt to use this initiative fraudulently may result in your application being terminated.
Recruitment in the Civil Service
The Civil Service recruits using the Success Profiles Framework. This allows us to assess candidates against a range of elements using a variety of selection methods. This gives us the best possible chance of finding the right person for the job. Not all elements are relevant to every role, so the Success Profile will be different for different types of job.
We have a range of tools and approaches that can be used to assess candidates to determine their suitability for the role and we may use more than one assessment method during the selection process. There may also be more than one stage of selection.
The assessment approach, along with the criteria required for the role, will be outlined in the job vacancy or candidate information pack.
You can find out more about careers in the civil service at Civil Service Careers and find vacancies at Civil Service Jobs.
In order to use the Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative, you must also meet the minimum standard for the role you would like to apply for.
The minimum standard is the combination of experience, behaviours, strengths, abilities and technical/professional skills that a candidate will need to perform effectively in the role.
The minimum standard will be clearly set out in the job vacancy or the candidate information pack. If you are unsure what the minimum standard is, you should contact the recruitment manager for the role.
Multiple stage recruitment
For some jobs, candidates will go through multiple stages, such as online tests, paper sifts, assessment days and interviews.
If the application process for a role has multiple stages, the Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative can be applied at each stage, but it will only move the applicant along one stage, and only if they meet the minimum standard at each stage.
It may not always be practicable or appropriate to interview all veterans who meet the minimum criteria for the job. For example, in high-volume recruitment, the employer may wish to limit the overall number of interviews by selecting the candidates who best meet the minimum criteria for the job rather than all of those that meet the minimum criteria.
In these circumstances, organisations can select the candidates who best meet the minimum criteria for the job rather than all of those that meet the minimum criteria.
Working in the Civil Service
Many veterans already work in the Civil Service and make a fantastic contribution to it. The Great Place to Work initiative will add to existing entry and experience routes for veterans to join the Civil Service operated by some Departments and the Going Forward Into Employment Scheme and HMRC’s RISE programmes. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Jan 22. New plans to boost veterans employment launched. Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan launches, including more than 60 commitments to help veterans with employment and healthcare. New programmes to make better use of the unique skills and experience of military veterans, including as prison officers and the uniformed and health services, have been launched today.
The programmes are part of the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan, which will launch a range of measures today to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.
The plan has more than 60 commitments, totalling more than £70 m from across government, to increase employment, step up health and wellbeing services and improve data and understanding of the veteran community.
A new recruitment scheme will be launched to fast track veterans into prison officer roles in around 50 prisons in England and Wales.
Departments, including the Home Office, DWP and NHS England will also collaborate to step up veterans going into blue light roles and the health service. This will be done through the “Step into Health” scheme in the NHS and a formal network of leads between MOD, DWP and uniformed services to share best practice.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said:
Veterans make a fantastic contribution to society and the measures announced today will help even more ex-service personnel realise their potential.
Whether it’s more employment opportunities, better digital services and targeted support, all of government is working to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.
Ex-service personnel will also be targeted to go from ‘Troops to Teachers’ through a £40k training bursary to become a secondary school teacher. The scheme will also allow school students to benefit from the unique skills and insight a military career provides.
The Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative, which guarantees interviews for veterans in the Civil Service, will also be rolled out to every department.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said:
The Veterans Strategy Action Plan will boost employment, modernise services and help us better understand the needs of the veteran community.
Veterans already make a huge contribution to society and the plans outlined today step up our commitment to allowing them to live successful and healthy lives after service.
Veterans will also benefit from a £44m investment in digital services, with pensions and compensation schemes being fully digitised for the first time. This will help the 1.2 m pensions members and 30,000 annual compensation claimants access services more quickly and easily.
More than £20 m of additional funding will be invested in health services in England, bringing further improvements to veterans’ mental health services, also known as Op COURAGE, and to meet physical health needs via the Veterans Trauma Network. More NHS trusts and GP practices than ever before will become veteran-friendly accredited.
NHS Chief Executive Officer Amanda Pritchard said:
Our Armed Forces personnel are an immense source of pride for our country but veterans and their families need access to NHS support that is considerate of their unique circumstances.
In line with our long term plan, the NHS is investing an additional £18 m to make our health services more accessible and ensure GP surgeries and hospitals are even more veteran friendly so that veterans and their families get the services they need, closer to home, which we know they want.
The Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan launched today covers three key areas:
- Understanding the veteran community – through stepped up research in areas such as housing, using the 2021 census data and researching the experience of female veterans
- Transforming services for veterans – with a range of measures boosting employment, increasing funding for mental health services and developing skills
- Recognising our veterans’ contribution to society – by launching an independent review of the impact of pre-2000 practices on LGBT veterans, promoting positive perceptions of veterans and signposting ex-service personnel to support
Top commitments in the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan include:
Employment and skills
Service leavers and veterans will receive stepped up promotion of opportunities to go into the uniformed and health services, including through more sharing of resources between departments and the creation of a formal network of local DWP leads to promote job opportunities to veterans. Veterans will also be encouraged into the teaching profession, through the Troops to Teachers scheme and Career Transition Partnership helping veterans use the Get School Experience service.
Direct placements into the Civil Service of personnel leaving the military will also be started, with a target of 100 placements a year by 22023/24.
Opportunities for veterans to access a wider range of academic and vocational roles will be improved, through the Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme.
As well as £20m in additional funding, the action plan will see NHS England bringing the three bespoke veterans’ mental health services under the Op COURAGE umbrella into one long-term integrated service, making the system easier to navigate for veterans and their families.
NHS England will also ensure that all primary care networks have a ‘Veteran Aware’ accredited GP practice and will look into having Veteran Aware staff in social care settings.
Understanding the veteran community
Following the first ever veterans question, which appeared in the 2021 census, analysis of the data from the census will be undertaken, to further understand the needs of the veterans community. Using this data, the government will publish official statistics on the frequency of suicide amongst veterans. Experts from academia and charities will be convened to understand the effect of the withdrawal from Afghanistan on veterans and their families. Better data on veterans who approach Local Authorities who are homeless, will be collected. Providing a digital ID for veterans, to verify their status, will also be scoped. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Jan 22. Wide-ranging support boost for military families. The Family Strategy, a new 10-year plan recognising the unique nature of military life and setting out bespoke support for service families, has been published today. The strategy will deliver lasting, cultural change over the next decade as it brings together innovative policies on health and wellbeing, education and career support. Improving access to childcare is one of the main workstreams within the Family Strategy, with Wraparound Childcare pilot sites expanding to include Woolwich and Lincolnshire. This means an additional 500 children are now benefitting from the scheme, bringing the total number of children with access to childcare before and after school to 1,500.
The work is part of a drive by defence to better support service personnel and their families and ensure our people can have more fulfilling careers in the Armed Forces.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty MP said: “Armed Forces families are at the heart of the Defence community and play a key role in the protection of the UK at home and abroad. The strategy seeks to offer choice and flexibility to allow personnel to serve their nation and raise a family at the same time. Today’s announcements cover childcare education, healthcare and much more to demonstrate our commitment to being a mode modern and inclusive employer – flexible to the needs of our people.”
The Family Strategy recognises the exceptional demands placed upon the UK Armed Forces and their families and focuses on health and wellbeing, learning and childcare, developing partners’ careers alongside the serviceperson and career management sensitive to the needs of the family. It is based on recommendations made in a report by Andrew Selous MP titled “Living in our Shoes: Understanding the needs of UK Armed Forces families” published last year.
The Wraparound Childcare scheme funds before and after school childcare for service children in the UK aged 4 to 11, for up to 20 hours per week. The expansion of this scheme brings the total number of sites to 10 across 5 clusters and is an answer to the demand in those areas. The eligibility will match that of the Government’s tax-free childcare policy. (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.