This award honours an individual or group of individuals linked with the Armed Forces community who are running a business, charity or social enterprise that has a made a significant positive impact on the lives of people within the Armed Forces community. This impact has been evidenced within the last three years – since January 1st 2019.
This award is generously sponsored by CISCO.
A spokesperson from CISCO confirmed that,
“Cisco are proud to be associated with Soldiering On Awards, X-Forces and the British Armed Forces, especially during these unprecedented times. It is both an honour and a privilege to be involved with this wonderful event, especially noting the drive and determination of the finalists to deliver positive impact within their communities – you have our total admiration.”
The Finalists for the Business Community Impact Award are:
Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company
Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (SBMC) is Scotland’s leading enterprise providing employment opportunities for disadvantaged and disabled Veterans. It has employed 91 vulnerable Veterans since opening in 2019.
The committed team manufactures road and rail signs for some of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects. They created bespoke engineered projects for the Queen’s jubilee and contributed to the pandemic response by manufacturing Covid-19 safety signage for the NHS and the Prison Service.
“This Veteran-led project sees the very best of military values implemented in a manufacturing setting. It’s an opportunity for Veterans to put their military expertise to positive use and ensures that the efficiency, conscientiousness and adaptability unique to the Forces is instilled in the factory’s processes.”
Operating as a social enterprise, the factory reinvests 100% of its surplus back into the factory to provide greater employment opportunities to its beneficiaries. Scotland’s Bravest Veterans are given working opportunities that align with any challenges they may face due to physical or hidden disability, PTSD, or drug or alcohol dependency, and they can receive accredited training and formal qualifications, gaining practical work experience.
SBMC values positive integration with the wider community and provides volunteering and employment opportunities for military spouses, and excellent working relationships with customers committed to Social Value in Scotland.
In the last year, the factory has generated sales of a staggering £1.13 million! But, underpinning all of this is a value that is fundamental to military service: that no one should be left behind.
“Whatever challenges are faced by the heroes at SBMC, the team band together as a unit and help each other through difficulties, so they can continue to be the best in class.”
Ger Fowler, a Light Infantry Veteran, set up Veterans in Crisis in 2018 to support other Veterans suffering from social, economic and psychological challenges. This filled local authority and NHS gaps in provision for Veterans in need.
Many of the Veterans referred to VICS are homeless, socially isolated and experiencing family breakdown or estrangement. The majority have alcohol or drug problems, and most have mental health problems.
Ger’s network forms a robust safety net for these Veterans, with Armed Forces Champions in key sites, including GP practices, Sunderland University, the football club and the Jobcentre. Their role is to identify and signpost Veterans in need, and VICS aim is to respond within eight hours.
“Over four years, 415 clients have registered with VICS. 100% have reported improvements in their mental health and more than 20 people have been diverted from suicide.”
Ger has sourced permanent furnished housing for 188 Veterans and their families. He has, for example, arranged free membership for gyms, giving Veterans the chance to mix with other Veterans, build friendships and have someone to talk to that understands their problems.
During the pandemic, Ger helped the NHS with collections and bed deliveries, as well as organising doorstep deliveries to Veterans of essential prescriptions and food. The business has now set up a commercial removals service to generate an income that will eventually negate the need to source grant funding.
“Ger knows how Veterans feel and what they are going through, because he has been there himself. He helps them to stabilise their lives and works with them to build a mentally healthy future.”
Crimsham Farm in Pagham, West Sussex, supports children with learning difficulties or special educational needs (SEN), Veterans and their families. It is a unique place where people can access a safe green space, interact with animals and get vital respite from the stresses of life.
The project began when a young man with Autism who had attained a degree from an agricultural college was unable to find work. Shane Glasspool and Craig set up a smallholding for the graduate to manage, giving him an insight into business management whilst fulfilling his lifelong goal to have a farm.
When the pandemic struck, the business quickly adapted to cater for children within lockdown measures. In addition to this, the team successfully supported people at risk of food poverty, distributing over £300,000 of free food to their community.
“The business is effectively leading the way in pioneering, perfecting and regulating alternative education by looking at OFSTED registration as an Alternative Provision School, and Apprenticeships for young adults with SEN and disabilities.”
The instructors, directors and staff are all ex-forces and use their military-learned skills to lead and instruct. They now provide educational therapy to over 300 children and young people with SEN each week on behalf of the local education authority. A pilot scheme offers post-18 service provision in West Sussex, and an eight-acre forest academy has been established in Rusper, with plans for further growth.
“In addition to all of this, the business is spearheading a huge Veterans project to provide a drop in centre, adventure training activities and a whole host of clubs and services for Veterans and their families.”