Royal British Legion Industries has been recognised by the Ministry of Defence for its ongoing support of ex-servicemen and women.
RBLI received the MoD’s Silver Award through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme which recognises organisations who demonstrate exceptional support to for the Armed Forces community, going beyond their commitments pledged when signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant.
The charity, which is to celebrate its centenary next year, first began life in 1919 providing accommodation and employment for soldiers returning from the Great War with tuberculosis at Kent’s Preston Hall.
However, the charity’s village has since grown to accommodate more than 300 people, offering a range of accommodation and welfare support to ex-service personnel and their families.
RBLI’s chief executive Steve Sherry said: “RBLI has been established for almost a century and over that time we are proud to say that we have expanded our services to all four corners of the country, supporting ex-service personnel into rewarding employment.
“At RBLI, we are proud to support veterans and their families and help move them towards independence through employment.
“As a modern, forward-thinking charity, with a strong commercial outlook, RBLI provides the right environment for individuals to prepare tor success.”
RBLI’s social enterprise Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company which is based at the heart of the charity’s village employs more than 100 people – 70% of whom are ex-service personnel or people with disabilities.
Of them is former staff sergeant Tim Brown, whose extensive military career ended in 2010 after seeing action in Bosnia, the Gulf War, Northern Ireland and two tours of Iraq – he was later diagnosed with PTSD which greatly affected his employment.
The 51-year-old, who lives in Gillingham, said: “I had reached a point in my lorry driving job where I realised I couldn’t do it any longer because of my diagnosis of PTSD and other physical issues,” said Tim. “So I found RBLI at a really good time in my life.
“I have done things and seen things in my life that most people wouldn’t dream of, and to come somewhere like this – it’s peaceful, calm and safe – it’s like a walled environment. It’s a lot like a military camp in a lot of ways and to be part of that is brilliant.
“I do think there are people here who may find it difficult to sustain a mainstream job, outside of RBLI – here disabilities are catered for and people are cared for.
“Without them I would be finding it difficult myself to find a job that I could hold down. It’s an amazing place to work because everybody looks after each other and cares about each other, from the very top to the bottom.
“I come to work with a smile – I never did that when I was doing any other job, which says it all really.”