29th July 2020

Forces in Mind Trust awards grant to fund accredited employment training programme for RBLI's Scottish social enterprise

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £298,996 to Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) to fund an employment training programme to help injured veterans into rewarding work.

The programme, which will be implemented at RBLI’s social enterprise, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (SBMC), will be led by a fully-accredited vocational trainer and will provide ex-Servicemen and women with recognised qualifications in manufacturing through flexible plans tailored to their individual needs.

Based at the Erskine Veterans Village Estate in Renfrewshire, SBMC offers a range of employment and volunteer opportunities in the manufacturing sector to Scottish ex-Service personnel, particularly those who experience physical or psychological challenges as a result of their service. The new funding will enable SBMC to employ a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) approved trainer to deliver recognised qualifications in sign-making, warehousing and performing manufacturing operations. The trainer will also work with the programme’s participants on their career development, working on interview and CV writing skills.

A team at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) led by Occupational Therapist Shirley Morrison-Glancy will conduct the independent evaluation to examine the impact of attaining a recognised SQA qualification on long-term job prospects, confidence levels, work readiness, employability and on the mental health of participants.

The project is expected to last three years and will support up to 60 ex-Service personnel.

Charlie Wallace, Scottish Veterans Commissioner, says: “Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (SBMC) has quickly become a stand-out example of social enterprise in Scotland and I was delighted to hear their news. This important and timely FiMT award will enable SBMC to take the next step in its journey, by employing an on-site SQA approved trainer to deliver recognised qualifications and working with Glasgow Caledonian University to assess and evidence the impact of their innovative model. We will need fresh approaches like this more than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. SBMC gives veterans the break they sometimes need when transitioning back to civilian life. That transition can be tough, particularly if you are already learning to live with an injury or disability or need other support in adapting. SBMC can make a real difference by offering individuals a chance to get into a job and gain the confidence, skills and qualifications that can greatly enhance their chances of securing employment opportunities longer-term. Their plans seem to me a natural progression from their starting point only last year. SBMC’s approach and social mission will resonate with communities across the country and I for one would like to see it replicated elsewhere to give more veterans the opportunities they deserve.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “We are pleased to award this grant to RBLI and to support the great work of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company. By combining practical support with robust academic analysis, this project will help to improve the employment support available, provide an independent resource for the wider charity and business sectors, and make a real difference to ex-Service personnel.  Whilst many will benefit directly from this funded programme, our ultimate goal is to use the evidence garnered by Glasgow Caledonian’s research team to deliver a sustainable improvement in employment outcomes. This approach is very much in line with our strategy of increasing the impact of all our work.”

Michelle Ferguson, Director of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, says: “Many who leave the Armed Services transition to civilian life relatively easily. However, for far too many, it can be an incredibly challenging time in their lives – particularly for those who face unique daily struggles with physical or mental disabilities. Thanks to the phenomenal support from the Forces in Mind Trust, and the collaboration with Caledonian University – whose expertise will be invaluable on this project – we will be providing a truly comprehensive, flexible and rewarding training programme which can help our ex-servicemen and women regain their independence and achieve their goals in life.”

Shirley Morrison-Glancy, project lead at GCU, says: “The research team at GCU are absolutely delighted to be involved in such a vitally important project. The programme that Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company is proposing, enabling our valued ex-service personnel to gain accredited skills, has the potential to be of great benefit both socially and economically to many veterans and their families. We are hopeful that our evaluation will enhance the evidence base and support a widened access in the long-term.”