Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Latest issue of Veterans WORLD now online

The latest issue of our external magazine Veterans WORLD is now online

Our December issue is packed full of articles that highlight the help and support available to veterans and their families. This issue includes an update of the Royal Hospital Chelsea modernisation, details of a brand new charity that's going to provide assistance dogs and news on a centre that just opened in Newcastle to support homeless veterans. 

Our striking front page image will draw your attention to a two-page feature on Horseback, a charity supporting rehabilitation for injured personnel.

The current issue and all our back issues are all online  and ready to read!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Pants for Christmas

Staff from SPVA offices at Imjin Barracks at Innsworth have joined forces with other Gloucestershire Civil Servants from GCHQ and Gloucester Land Registry to collect for the homeless in their local community..

The three Agencies will collect new underwear, toiletries and other clothing for Gloucestershire’s Emergency Accommodation Resource (GEAR), the only direct homeless charity in Gloucestershire. Appropriately, the campaign will be called ‘Pants for Christmas’!

GEAR performs critical work relieving sickness, poverty and distress, particularly amongst the county’s street homeless. 

The campaign will support GEAR who work with Gloucestershire homeless
Dave Aylen, SPVA campaign coordinator said:

“We are pleased to be given this opportunity to get together with other Civil Service organisations in Gloucestershire to help collect as much clothing and toiletries as possible for this worthwhile cause. It is great to be involved with something so positive for our community”.
Further information on the 'Pants for Christmas' campaign can be found here.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Latest Veterans Today video release

We have now released the fourth in our series of videos highlighting a variety of items of interest to the Service and veterans community.

In the latest edition of ‘Veterans Today’, presenter Don Goldie takes viewers on a tour of Ilford Park Polish Home.

Situated just a few miles from Newton Abbot in Devon, the Home provides residential and nursing care for those who qualify for admission under the 1947 Polish Resettlement Act.

This historic establishment, administered by SPVA, has been home to a thriving Polish community for over 60 years. The Home was founded as a result of a promise made by Winston Churchill to the Polish people during the Second World War.

Even today, the Home preserves its distinctly Polish ambience, which is reflected in the food, music and language shared by the residents.

During the programme, Clare Thomas who manages the home on behalf of SPVA, explains how the customs and traditions of the residents continue to be nurtured and how the community has, over the years, become firmly established as an integral and cherished part of Poland, set deep in the Devon countryside.

‘Veterans Today’ is available to view on the Veterans-UK website and is syndicated via iTunes and YouTube and other social media sites - you can find the links on our Social Media Hub.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Veterans Tree of Honour

Tree of Honour celebrations have been held to remember absent family and friends at Christmas
Veterans at the Erskine charity's home in Bishopton recently held Tree of Honour celebrations to remember absent family and friends at Christmas time. Many people have chosen to dedicate a star to loved ones serving on operations in Afghanistan, which will hang on the tree. The wintery evening commenced with a small Lantern Procession from the Old Garden Centre, with well wrapped up residents and children accompanied by a Pipe Band, to The Erskine Home.

Family and friends joined in Carol Singing with the children of Rashielea Primary School and the Happy Days Nursery. Erskine’s Reverend Janet MacMahon led the Dedication Service of the Tree followed by the switching on the Tree lights.

Each Erskine Home will be decorating a Tree of Honour with Purple Stars this Christmas and it’s not too late for you to write your own personal message on a Purple Star and return it with a donation to the charity. If you would like to receive a Star please call the Erskine Fundraising Department on 0141 814 4555.

To find out more about Erskine; visit their website and take a look at some of the resident's testimonials to get an idea of what the charity has meant to them.

Friday, 26 November 2010

SPVA now on Flickr

We are now on Flickr! 

It's in the early days of development so we just have a few images up already in SPVA collection alongside other Defence images.  The images plus supporting text will give you a visual idea of the work SPVA undertakes to support the Armed Forces Community: Serving personnel, veterans and their families.

Flickr is an image and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community it is also a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs and social media

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Laughter is the best medicine

free copies of the book have been sent to troops serving in Afghanistan
If you're compiling your Christmas gift list, want to raise money for charity or find a fun present for someone you know, then The Laughing Soldier Jokebook might be right up your street.

Project 65 - The Veterans Charity have produced a collection of jokes and messages of support for the British Armed Forces serving around the world.

Jokes have been sent in by people all over the world, including Service Personnel, veterans and their families, the general public and famous figures including Alan Titchmarsh and George Osbourne.

A donation from the sale of each book will go to the charity to help them continue with their work in funding the vital care and support of the Armed Forces Community and establish new initiatives to offer more support to those who need it most. 

The book, priced at £6.99 and published by Casemate,  goes on sale from 26th November and will be available from Project 65, Casemate, all good bookshops and online retailers.

The book includes a foreword from triple amputee former Royal Marine Mark Ormrod which highlights how important humour is for Service Personnel:

Being able to tell a joke or "crack a funny" when morale is low can help even the worst of situations seem that little bit better...

Here's a taster of what the book has to offer . . .

The book is split into sections to suit all comedic tastes

Friday, 12 November 2010

A small badge of recognition

When you're attending Remembrance events or celebrating Armed Forces Day, you may have noticed a small emblem on jacket lapels alongside the medals worn by veterans.

Introduced in 2004, the HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge promotes recognition of veterans.  To date, over 800,000 badges have been issued.

Veterans Lapel Badges ready for presentation

It's issued to all those who served in HM Armed Forces including Volunteer and Regular Reserves.

The full list of eligibility criteria is listed on our website.  To apply for a badge, you can download an application form or call our freephone helpline - 0800 169 2277.

If you interested in finding out more about the lapel badge, then check out our video below.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Remember the fallen

Two online ‘Books of Remembrance’ have been launched, commemorating all those members of the armed forces who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Visitors can post memories, pictures and anecdotes about each individual, forming a record of the sacrifices made by Armed Forces personnel and their families that is accessible to all. The tribute books are supported by the three armed services’ charities: the RAF Benevolent Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

The creator, Jonathan Haward, has provided brief biographies for many of the fallen, but wants the general public to make their own contributions by visiting the online books. In this way he hopes the online tributes will form a broader public testament to the bravery and sacrifice of Britain’s military.

Jonathan Haward, creator of the online 'Books of Remembrance'
Jonathan has strong personal reasons for wanting to create the online spaces:

“My mother worked in a radar station during the Battle of Britain, directing fighter planes to intercept the enemy. The RAF was an important part of her life and holds a special place in the heart of our family. Both of my elder brothers, Chris and David, became pilots. Sadly David was killed on exercise 11 years ago, shortly after being appointed a Station Commander.

Jonathan's mother, who worked in a radar station during the Battle of Britain

“A few years ago a friend emailed me some pictures of my brother that I had never seen. I forwarded these to my relatives and they brought such joy that it inspired us to set up  website where families can leave tributes to departed loved ones, post images and share memories. The Books of Remembrance are a logical extension of this idea, giving everyone the chance to take an interactive, personal approach to Armistice Day. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the three Service charities and their vital work."
Jacqui Thompson, whose husband Gary died in Afghanistan, has shared her memories in the online tribute

Jacqui Thompson lost her husband Gary in 2008. He was killed at the age of 51 whilst serving as a reservist in the RAF Regiment, when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Jacqui has added her own pictures and memories to Gary’s page in the Afghanistan Book of Remembrance and encourages others to do the same:

“Since I lost Gary all I have are cherished memories – that’s why Remembrance is so important to me. The online Books of Remembrance are a lovely way of keeping Gary alive - recognising his actions and collecting together my memories, and those of all the people that knew him. It helps to keep him with us, in our hearts.”

Please take time to visit the books during this time of Remembrance.

Monday, 8 November 2010

A nation remembers

The poppy, the recognised emblem for Remembrance Sunday

At this time of year, you'll notice a splash of red adorning winter coats, suit jackets, dresses . . .  The poppy - an emblem of remembrance and recognition of those who have given their lives in the service of their country. 

The 11th November was the date the armistice was signed at 11.00am in 1918, bringing an end to the First World War.  In the years that followed, this date and the second Sunday of November, Remembrance services were and are held across the country.

Poppies are produced by the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. Both raising awareness and funds for the Armed Forces Community.

Our website holds information about the history of  Remembrance Sunday that you might also find interesting.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Looking behind the headlines

SPVA Podcast presenters Don and Clare

Our latest podcast looks at bereavement care.

SPVA continues with our series of podcasts keeping Service personnel and veterans up-to-date with items of interest or news from within the Agency and the Armed Forces Community.

Our  latest podcast provides an update on a project developing services for bereaved members of the Armed Forces Community.

Cruse Bereavement Care, a national charity, is running the three-year project, funded by the Department of Health. Jenny Green, the Project Manager takes part in the podcast interview, providing news of the Project’s progress.

Jenny said: “The podcast is a great way to provide wider awareness of what the Project hopes to achieve in support of the Armed Forces Community. Our aim is to provide accessible support, establish new services and give service specific training for those who are supporting bereaved people.”

Laurie Manton, Head of SPVA Media and Communications said: “SPVA is committed to providing awareness of initiatives and organisations supporting the Armed Forces Community. Since early 2010, SPVA has released a number of podcasts providing information and updates of initiatives and services provided for this important community.”

The podcast and other SPVA social media products are available to access on our Social Media Hub via the Veterans-UK website, and on various social media sites such as iTunes and YouTube.

Don't forget, to keep up-to-date on our social media releases follow us on Twitter!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Recognition and commemoration

Each of the stamps include a monochrome image of an Armed Forces Memorial from the National Arboretum (Picture; Royal Mail)

The Royal Mail has issued a special commemorative sheet of stamps to recognise the sacrifice and contribution made by all those who have served in the Armed Forces.

All profits from the sales of the stamps will be donated to the National Memorial Arboretum, situated in Staffordshire.

The SPVA website also holds information about the Armed Forces Memorial situated at the National Arboretum and also houses the Roll of Honour search facility.

The Roll of Honour database allows you to search for a person who died while they were in Service; the database contains details of those who have died since 1st January 1948.  It's simple to use, requiring either the surname and forenames, or initials (if known), or the Service number. When you have found the person you are looking for you will be given an option to print a Memorial Scroll  that will contain details of their Service in the Armed Forces.

Monday, 1 November 2010

New support groups for the Armed Forces Community

The committees' webpages are housed on the Veterans-UK website

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has launched a new regional network to help veterans, Serving personnel and their families access welfare support in their local area. The one year pilot scheme will see 13 new ‘Veterans Advisory & Pensions Committees (VAPCs)’ across the United Kingdom.

The VAPCs replace the previous ‘War Pension Committees’ but this is not simply a change of name. The new committees have been completely re-constituted and have a fresh focus and a much wider role. This includes:
  • Acting as advocates for implementing improved cross-Government support, including the services outlined in the Service Personnel Command Paper and the Armed Forces ‘Welfare Pathway’.
  •  Raising awareness within their regions of the support available to veterans and the Armed Forces community. This includes compensation and pension schemes for those injured, disabled or bereaved through Service, advice services and the work of the MOD’s Veterans Welfare Service.
  • Assisting serving personnel, their families and veterans in accessing the above services and other local support. This will include providing specific assistance and guidance to individuals in their areas and ensuring they are put in touch with the relevant organisations who can help. The committees will also provide an independent element to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency’s complaints process.
Chairmen and members have now been appointed to all 13 committees. All are volunteers and come from a cross-section of the local community, including health, social care, legal professionals and veterans groups.

Administration support and guidance for the VAPCs is provided by SPVA. Jon Parkin, the Agency’s Head of Veterans Services said:

“We know from talking to veterans that problems they face can often result from issues affecting a specific area of the country. The new VAPCs will have a vital, on the ground, local knowledge of these issues and will help ensure that Service personnel and veterans needing assistance get the help that’s right for them, wherever they live.”

Lt Col Ray Holland, a Chairman of one of the new Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees said:

“The new committees will ensure that the needs of Veterans and their dependants are championed at every level from central government to the local community. We will assist in the implementation of the Military Covenant and work closely with local authorities, primary care trusts and Service charities in the delivery of services and benefits.

The committees comprise of members drawn from all walks of life providing a wide range of experience and knowledge, a number of whom have previously served in the Armed Forces.  Located on a regional basis, our local knowledge makes us well placed to serve the veteran community.”

Members of the Armed Forces or Veterans community wanting to contact their local committee should contact the Veterans Welfare Centre for their area  or the Veterans-UK Helpline 0800 169 2277. Alternatively more information can be found on the VAPC webpages.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Put on a poppy

The Saturdays pose with Servicemen at the launch [picture: an West/PA Wire]
The Royal British Legion's 90th Poppy Appeal was launched yesterday with a special focus on the support for the injured, wounded and bereaved members of the 'Afghan generation' of British Armed Forces.

Under the motto, "Put on a poppy", the national Poppy Appeal was launched at Colchester Garrison with a concert from chart-topping pop sensations The Saturdays for families and personnel of 16 Air Assault Brigade which is currently on combat operations in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire visits SPVA

Sir Henry met with staff from the Medals Office

The Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Sir Henry Elwes KCVO recently visited the SPVA offices at Imjin Barracks to find out more about the work of the MOD Medal Office and Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre.

During his visit, Sir Henry visited the Elizabeth Cross section where he was able to meet the people who administer the prestigious award. As the Queen’s representative for the county, he has presented crosses to local families on several occasions.

Sir Henry was also given an overview of the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, highlighting the important work undertaken to ensure families are quickly notified of UK Service casualties wherever and whenever they occur in the World.

Sir Henry Elwes KCVO, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire said:

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Medal Office and JCCC and to see the important work they do for our Armed Forces, their families and the Veterans community, particularly in respect of the Elizabeth Cross.”

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Royal British Legion and SPVA ‘attract' Attention from Service families with launch of new fridge magnet

Air Commodore Chris Bray (centre) SPVA Head of Military Operations and Development, with Craftsman Cryans (left), Support Battalion – Allied Rapid Reaction Corp and Petty Officer Knight (Royal Navy), both with their fridge magnets ready for when they deploy to Afghanistan early next year.
SPVA joined forces with The Royal British Legion (TRBL) to produce 252,000 magnetic emergency contact cards for the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC).

The JCCC is the first point of contact for Service families in the event of a family emergency or domestic crisis that requires the return of a Service person from deployments overseas. Service personnel will be familiar with the JPA P001 cardboard card that has been in circulation since JCCC’s formation in April 2005. This small card, about the size of a credit card, provides families with clear and easy to follow guidance on how to contact the JCCC in a crisis or family emergency, such as a sudden illness or accident involving a loved one.

JPA P002 Fridge Magnet

But when feedback from the Services suggested something more durable might be helpful, TRBL and SPVA teamed up to produce a new magnetic version – aptly named the JPA P002. The magnet is easily attached to fridges, washing machines or other metal surfaces so it’s to hand when it’s most needed. Funded by TRBL and distributed by SPVA, the double-sided card also now features website information for TRBL and other organisations providing support for Service families.

The Royal British Legion Director of Welfare, Sue Freeth, said:

“The Royal British Legion is proud to be working in partnership with the MOD to inform the Armed Forces community where to seek help in times of a family crisis.

“The £30k we have invested into the production of fridge magnets will ensure Armed Forces households across the UK have the JCCC’s number stored in a convenient and easily accessible place in case of an emergency.

“The Legion can offer a raft of support to Service personnel and their families when dealing with a death or illness in the family. We can provide advice and guidance on the Armed Forces Compensation scheme, funds to meet immediate needs, online support networks and free independent legal advice to bereaved families.

“It is vital the Service community know who to turn to for support and by working closely with the MOD on this project we’re able to place that advice directly where its needed.”

Air Cdre Chris Bray SPVA Head of Military Operations and Development said:

“My thanks go to TRBL for their support with this initiative. It’s an excellent example of how the MOD and charities like the TRBL can work together to produce something simple but really useful. The JCCC provides a vital function for Service families. I am sure those deployed on operations or overseas will be reassured by the knowledge their loved ones have this information close to hand in the event of a family emergency.”

SPVA’s JCCC is located at Imjin Barracks, Gloucester and provides casualty reporting and compassionate travel services for all three branches of the UK’s Armed Forces. JCCC is manned 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year and makes and receives over 86,000 telephone calls per year.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Latest SPVA podcast launched

The search continues for relatives of those who died at Fromelles

The Agency’s latest podcast explores the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the continuing search for relatives of those who died at Fromelles during the First World War.

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery is the newest cemetery constructed by the CWGC and is the final resting place for 250 soldiers who died at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. These soldiers were recently discovered in a series of communal graves in northern France. The search still continues to find relatives of those soldiers.

The Commission is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1917 and is responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of those members of the Commonwealth Forces who died during the two World Wars.

Ranald Leask, CWGC said, “The podcast is a great way to find out about the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and our recent work at Fromelles. It will provide much-needed awareness of our continuing search to find relatives of those soldiers killed at Fromelles.”

The podcast and other SPVA Social Media products are available to view via the SPVA Social Media Hub.

Pictures copyright Jon Garrett CWGC

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Our Survey Said . . .

I just wanted to let you know reasons why you should be visiting the Veterans-UK website

The SPVA website  holds information that will be of interest to the Armed Forces Community and, if you work as an advisor, may provide you with advice that can help you support veterans.

In a recent survey, more than 300 visitors to the website gave an insight into what they find useful. The results showed:

  • 80% would definitely or probably recommend the site to a friend;
  • The most searched for information is: Service records and medals information, pensions and compensation, Veterans Community information;
  • 76% got some, most or all of what they wanted;
  • 92% were content with how easy they found the site to use (69% good/very good, 23% indifferent); and
  • 95% were content with how clear and easy to understand the site was (74% good/very good, 21% indifferent).
David Johnson, SPVA External Communications Manager, explained the value of the survey:

“We want the Veterans-UK website to be the focal point on the web for accessing information on support for UK ex-Service personnel and their families. The results show the site is well used and valued by most visitors but we want to do more to ensure we are meeting their needs. We’re really pleased that 75% of those completing the survey were veterans themselves. In January 2010 we introduced a new ‘Veterans Community’ area to the site with a ‘news’ section showing latest announcements, discounts and special offers specially for veterans.

“With this in mind, I would ask readers of the SPVA Blog to consider sending us items of interest to the Veterans Community for publishing online.”

If you would like to submit information to be placed on the Veterans-UK site, contact the External Communications Team.

Monday, 11 October 2010

SPVA's newest video cast its eye on history

We've just released the third in a series of videos highlighting a variety of items of interest to the service and veterans community.

In the latest video, presenter Don Goldie looks at the work of the Historic Casualty Casework team, a small, dedicated unit working within the MoD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC).

The Casework team deals with all enquires relating to individual military fatalities outside the recent past and co-ordinates investigations following the discovery of human remains of personnel killed in the First and Second World Wars,. This fascinating work involves attempts to identify the casualty and trace their next of kin or descendants. They then arrange an appropriate military funeral in the country concerned, if that is the wish of the family.

The team have recently been heavily involved in the Fromelles Project which called for their expertise in the identification and reburial of 250 British and Australian troops who were killed during the battle in 1916. The videocast features an interview with Sue Raftree, head of the Fromelles team, who explains the procedures that were undertaken in attempting to identify the remains of those bodies recovered from their original resting place.

Fromelles will also feature in a future SPVA podcast, in which Ranald Leask of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission talks in some detail about the background to the project. Watch out for the release in the next couple of days!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Heartfelt Thanks for RAF personnel: past and present

Flight Lieutenant Marc Heal
Photography by Adrian Brooks
The RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, presented a vast collection of messages of thanks to service personnel, past and present, on Sunday 19th September to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The ‘Heartfelt Thanks’ campaign gives people the opportunity to express their gratitude to the RAF for its defence of the country in the summer of 1940, and to recognise the ongoing commitment of current RAF serving personnel.

Messages from members of the public have been collected at RAF Benevolent Fund events throughout the summer, as well as online. Celebrities including Stephen Fry, Sir David Jason, Dawn French, Dan Snow, Joanna Lumley and Sophie Dahl have also contributed messages to express their appreciation.
Battle of Britain Wing Commander Bob Foster
Wing Commander Bob Foster, 90, who flew 50-60 sorties in the Battle and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his bravery, says he’s very touched by the public’s support:

"I'm overwhelmed by how many people have taken the time to write messages as part of the RAF Benevolent Fund's Heartfelt Thanks campaign. It's a real sign of appreciation to the whole of the RAF, not just to those of us who fought in the Battle of Britain, but to all the men and women who have served since and are currently serving. I have read some incredibly moving tributes - one card was signed by a little boy of just five - and I can tell you that it's very humbling to see such a display of gratitude on the 70th anniversary of the Battle."

Flight Lieutenant Marc Heal, 30, is a Chinook helicopter pilot based at RAF Odiham who received the DFC for service in Afghanistan. He explains what it means to be thanked:

“Those of us serving in the RAF know that people are grateful for the work that we do, but to see it written in their own words is incredibly moving. It’s a small thing to say ‘thank you’ but it means a great deal and I think people’s words of support will be a great inspiration for anyone who’s ever served, from the oldest veteran to the youngest cadet.”

To take part in the ‘Heartfelt Thanks’ campaign, leave a message of thanks online.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Changes to campaign medals criteria

The Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan
(Picture: Andy Cargill ABIPP, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009)

Hundreds more British Servicemen and women will receive operational campaign medals under new plans announced by the MOD in August.

At present, members of the Armed Forces who serve for 30 continuous days qualify for Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals.

Following a review, those who have served for an aggregate period of 45 days are also now eligible. These changes will be backdated to the start of both operations - 11 September 2001 for Afghanistan and 20 January 2003 for Iraq.

Examples of Service personnel who could now be eligible include members of the aeromedical evacuation teams who accompany injured patients back to the UK.

Under the new plans, personnel who deploy for short periods of time will be allowed to build up accrued days to achieve an aggregate qualifying period of 45 days' service.

If you believe you may be eligible, then contact the MOD Medal Office.

Its all change at Veterans WORLD

Issue 17 with the new look

The latest issue of Veterans WORLD is now online.  You'll notice that we have changed the overall look of the magazine but we'll still telling you about the help and advice available to ex-Service personnel and their families, just in a different way!  It's now a  28 page A4-sized publication and its jam-packed with news items or features about organisations, projects and services that are there to help.

Our first 'new' issue
The front cover is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of SSAFA and inside the issue, we tell you how this Service charity is marking its anniversary with a number of fundraising events.  We now also have some regular features - an SPVA news page; providing updates from our Agency and a noticeboard section where we will provide information on  a new or improved website providing advice and support.  On our feature pages we tell you about: a new initiative using Football to improve health and well-being for younger veterans, how The Beacon Scheme is creating employment opportunities and a retrospective looked at Armed Forces Day 2010 and plans for next year's event.  That's just a brief overview, so take a look at the issue and find out more.

We also also released a new podcast interview with Laurie Manton, Editor-in-Chief of Veterans WORLD where Don Goldie quizzes him of the revamp and future plans.

We're also increasing the frequency to four issues per year, but don't worry each new issue will be blogged or tweeted about, so you won't miss a copy!

If you are an organisation providing help and support to ex-Service personnel and their families, please consider submitting an article to us for consideration at the Veterans WORLD email.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Coming soon

Location filming for the next SPVA video

We're busy working on new social media products that we be releasing over the next few months leading up to Christmas, so just wanted to keep you posted on things to come.

There are podcasts planned on the new issue of Veterans WORLD (due out in the next couple of weeks), the continuing search for relatives of those killed at Fromelles and an interview with Jenny Green to discuss the Cruse Project which is supporting bereaved military families.

We've also got a new video in production, explaining the work of the Historical Casualty Casework Team which we will be posting on our YouTube channel and placing on our website in the next couple of months.

Keep an eye on our Social Media Hub for our new releases. Don't forget you can also follow us on Twitter and keep updated on news from SPVA.

Honouring the promise

 Ilford Park is based at Stover, near Newton Abbot in Devon, on the borders of the Dartmoor National Park

Described as the 'Little Poland in the heart of Devon', the Ilford Park Polish Home still upholds a promise made by Winston Churchill, following the Second World War, to recognise the sacrifice of the Polish people who fought under British Command or who had been held in Labour Camps. Poland was the fourth largest contributor to the Allied effort in Europe by the end of the War.

After the War, 130,000 Polish nationals came to this country under the terms of the 1947 Polish Resettlement Act. Residential camps, 46 in total, were created to house them. Only one remains open today - The Ilford Park Polish Home.

The Home no longer resembles the original camp after a re-build in the nineties. It now provides 81 residential and 14 nursing beds with five sheltered bungalows. A priority for the Home is to maintain links with Poland; so there is a Polish shop with a wide variety of Polish food on sale, residents also have access to Polish Television and Community teas are held each month where entertainment is traditional Polish songs.

Today, the Home, run by SPVA, continues to provide residential and nursing care to people who qualify for admission under the Act.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Home you can find further information on our website or listen to our podcast interview with Clare Thomas who manages the home.

So until the next post Do Widzenia!

Friday, 13 August 2010

The SPVA website boosts veterans support on 65th Anniversary of VJ Day

Jim Baker WWII D-Day veteran reviews new look website

Sunday 15th August marks the 65th anniversary of ‘VJ’ day, when the Japanese surrendered in 1945, bringing an end to World War II. 65 years later, our veterans still deserve our help and support, whether they served in the wartime years or in any other conflict right up to Afghanistan today.

In this anniversary year, our
website, the focal point for access to the special help and support provided to veterans and their families, has undergone a full redesign. Information can be found on Government compensation for those injured or bereaved through Service, special welfare support, a dedicated helpline and much more.

New features for 2010 include an online advice section, taking people through interactive questions to identify sources of help on issues such as housing, money matters, coping with crisis, caring responsibilities and much more. Remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, a new section is dedicated to the Armed Forces Memorial, commemorating those killed by Service in the Armed Forces since 1948.

Recognition for veterans is an important aspect of our site, with information on medals, the HM Armed Forces veterans badge and other official emblems. On the social side, the new
Veterans Community section includes discounts and special offers for veterans, advice on tracing comrades and a ‘self service’ events calendar where organisers can promote their veterans related events.

If you are part of the Armed Forces community or you're interested in veterans' issues, then our website is worth a visit.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Not just for decoration

Our new SPVA videocast looks at the MOD Medal Office.

In the second of our series of videocasts, ‘Veterans Today’, presenter Don Goldie examines the work of the MOD Medal Office.

Based at Imjin Barracks in Gloucestershire, the Medal Office is the sole authority for the issue of Service medals authorised by Her Majesty to British Service personnel and veterans.

The programme traces the history of military awards and takes a behind the scenes look at the skilled and painstaking work undertaken by the office which receives hundreds of medal applications every week.

The latest videocast provides a fascinating insight into the workings of an office that, even today, is dealing with hundreds of applications for Second World War medals as well as those awarded in current campaigns.”

The videocast will be available to view on the Veterans-UK website, and on various social media sites such as iTunes and YouTube.

Advertising events for free

The calendar provides information on events being held across the UK

Are you planning an event or something that will be of interest to veterans or the organisations that help them?

SPVA have a free and ideal way of advertising your event on our website that's frequently visited by veterans and the Service community.

The National Calendar of Events holds details of activities to be held across the UK, such as reunions, Armed Forces Day events,advice days, air shows, in fact any event to do with the Armed Forces and the veterans community.

To advertise your event on the calendar simply visit our website click on Veterans Community and there you'll find the link to the Events Calendar. Access, complete and submit the on-line application form, then the event details will be entered onto the calendar.

Our website also holds a wealth of information for in-Service and ex-Service personnel, so don’t just stop at the Events Calendar keep exploring.

Changes to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

SPVA has created a communications toolkit to help explain the changes to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

The period in which anyone who has been injured in service can claim compensation will rise this month from five to seven years from point of diagnosis as part of a series of changes to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

The change came into effect on August 3, and is one of several to be introduced following the recommendations from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Review, carried out by former Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral the Lord Boyce last year.

The Review, which was assisted by an independent scrutiny group that included Service charities, medical experts, serving personnel and veterans, announced its recommendations for improvements in February this year.

The majority of these improvements require legislative amendment to the Scheme and will be implemented by February 2011, but some changes can be made more quickly and have taken effect from August 3.

These improvements include;

An increase in the maximum level of Bereavement Grant from £20,000 to £25,000 to reflect the increase in Armed Forces pay since 2005.
An increase in the maximum level of Bereavement Grant for Reservists who are not members of a reserve forces pension scheme to £37,500, to help bring their benefits in line with their Regular forces colleagues.
An uplift of the majority of awards for hearing loss by one Tariff level.

The full press announcement can be found on the MOD website.

To support and provide information on the changes, the AFCS toolkit has been created to allow you to view, listen to or download information via a bespoke webpage on the Veterans-UK website. The products have been designed to provide information for you or help you when providing advice about the scheme from a podcast to a poster for display in your office.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Fromelles - the search continues

Aerial view of the Fromelles Cemetery

On 19 July , 94 years to the day since thousands of men died at the Battle of Fromelles, the last of 250 First World War soldiers, recently discovered in communal graves, were laid to rest in a new, purpose-built, Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. Read the full article here.

The search is still on for the families of those British and Australian soldiers believed to be killed at the Battle on 19-20 July 1916.

Anyone believing they may be related to a British soldier who may have died at the battle should contact: Historic Casualty Casework, Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, Services Personnel and Veterans Agency, Imjin Barracks, Gloucester GL3 1HW, or 01452 712612 extension 6303 or 7330.

Anyone who may be related to an Australian soldier should visit for more information or call 00 61 1800 019 090

Image copyright Jon Garrett /CWGC

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ready to take your call

One of the Helpline Operators taking a call

SPVA provides 'through life' support functions direct to around 900,000 service and ex-Service personnel. This includes two helplines providing information and advice - The Veterans-UK Helpline and the JPAC Enquiry Centre. Both helplines are free.
In a typical week, Veterans-UK FREE Helpline answer on average 4,000 calls. Enquiries relate to War Pensions, Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, Service Records, Veterans Badge applications and more. If practical help or assistance cannot be given, the caller will be signposted to Organisations who will be able to help.
Service Personnel and Veterans Agency at Norcross receive on average 600 e-mails and letters a month. These include requests for Service Records, tracing relatives, Service Pension enquiries and information on medals, this list is not exhaustive.
The Veterans Helpline number is 0800 169 2277, additional calling facilities including a minicom(textphone) and overseas telephone number are also available.
Our lines are open between 8.15 am - 5.15pm Monday to Thursday and between 8.15am - 4.30pm on a Friday.

If you are a veteran, need help but don't know where to start . . . start here by ringing 0800 169 2277 and let's see if we can help you.

Please note, you may be offered a call-back if the helpline is particularly busy on the day you ring.

Watch out for a later post on the JPAC Enquiry Centre . . .

Monday, 12 July 2010

Could you be eligible for a Service Pension?

In this day and age, it’s important to know about all your financial entitlements and the latest SPVA podcast hopes to give you the facts.

If you can answer yes to the following questions, then you may be eligible for a preserved pension:
Are you ex-Service?
Have you served in the Armed Forces since 1975?
Are you 60 or over?

The podcast will provide you with information on preserved pensions from eligibility to the applications process.

Further information can be also found on the MOD or SPVA websites or in the Armed Forces Pension Scheme Pamphlets.

Monday, 21 June 2010

SPVA supports Armed Forces Day

The second annual Armed Forces Day will be held this Saturday, June 26. The day provides an opportunity for the nation to show its support for the Armed Forces Community with events being held across the country, with the national event hosted by Cardiff.

In the latest SPVA podcast, Don Goldie and Clare Ellis discuss the latest Armed Forces Day news and interview Cardiff Council Leader Councillor Rodney Berman, on what is planned for the national event. Cardiff has a full day of activities planned from a parade, a concert with performances from The Soldiers and Only Men Aloud to a fireworks display closing the event.

SPVA staff will also be attending some of the Armed Forces Day events, providing information and advice. We’ll keep you updated on where staff will be, via the SPVA Twitter page. You can follow SPVA on Twitter here.

If you want to get involved or find out about an event near you; visit the official Armed Forces Day webpage.

Only Men Aloud will be performing at the National Event

Monday, 14 June 2010

Latest issue of Veterans WORLD now available

Veterans WORLD raises awareness of help and advice available to veterans and their families

The latest issue of Veterans WORLD is available online
Veterans WORLD is the SPVA external publication, issued thrice-yearly to advisers who meet the public on a daily basis. With an estimated 4.8 million veterans living in the UK, it's guaranteed that they will meet veterans using their services.
Veterans WORLD is a good resource tool, highlighting the help, advice and support available to their veterans and families. This could be anything from a service provided by an ex-Service organisation, an MOD housing initiative to a grant provided by a charity.
There are other 18,000 advisers on our free distribution, from Citizen Advice Bureaux, Resettlement Officers, ex-Service organisations to Local Housing Officers. If you work in an advisory role, then you should consider applying for copies.
The latest issue, number 16, includes a front-page story on Armed Forces Day 2010, an update on the Armed Forces Community Welfare Pathway roll-out and how a flying charity helped a disabled veteran reach for the sky.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans

Conservative MP Andrew Robathan (pictured) has been confirmed as Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.

A veteran himself, Mr Robathan served in the Coldstream Guards from 1974 to 1989 before leaving to pursue a career in politics. He served throughout the world and attended the Army Staff College, Camberley. Mr Robathan volunteered to rejoin the Army, January - April 1991, and served as Chief of Staff of the Prisoner of War Guard Force in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

Friday, 4 June 2010

SPVA embraces Social Media

Don Goldie and Clare Ellis, the SPVA podcast presenters

Podcasting is a really good way to get information to the Armed Forces Community (Service personnel, Veterans and their families) and the general public. Here in SPVA, we launched our regular programme of podcasts in February this year.

We've already released podcasts on the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Review and The Ilford Park Polish Home. The podcasts are available from our Social Media Hub. If you prefer, they can be downloaded from iTunes. The link can be found on the Hub.

We are also on Twitter, so you can also follow our tweets.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Armed Forces Day 2010 - where will you be?

Cardiff is hosting the national Armed Forces Day event for 2010

Armed Forces Day takes place on Saturday 26 June. Designed to honour our Service personnel, past, present and future; the theme for Armed Forces Day is 'Show your Support'.
The national event takes place on Saturday 26 June and will be hosted by Cardiff City Council. This will be completed by more than 170 community-led events in towns and cities across the UK on or around 26 June. For the full event listing and to see how you can get involved in your local event, click here for further details.
Public support for Armed Forces Day is growing every day. There are now more than 260,000 fans on the dedicated Facebook page and almost 1,300 followers on Twitter. Lots of messages of support are posted every day. Click here to visit the Facebook page or follow Armed Forces Day on Twitter.

SPVA wins two Top Awards

Pictured left to right: Capt Ian Bisson (Royal Navy), Kevin Large (HP), Kathy Barnes (SPVA Chief Executive), Paul Couch (HP) and Lesley Grant-Pavitt (HP) receive the SSON awards.

SPVA has scooped two top awards at the prestigious ‘Shared Services Outsourcing Network (SSON)’ 2010 Industry Awards, in Edinburgh on 25 May. The Agency first won the award for ‘Best Mature Outsourced Services Delivery’ for our management of the UK Forces’ Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system. We then went on to beat organisations from across Europe, the Middle-East and Africa to win the highest accolade of the night –the ‘Winner of Winners’ award.

These awards recognise the success of the outsourcing relationship within SPVA between the Ministry of Defence and HP Enterprise Services that started in November 1997, and the successful introduction of JPA from 2006. JPA has revolutionised personnel and HR services for the UK Armed Forces, bringing together the Navy, Army and RAF onto one system, allowing users to update details themselves and providing one dedicated contact point for help and support.

In making the awards, judges from top European companies remarked that SPVA “demonstrated a leading ability to deliver change” and had a “relentless focus on technological development”. They were also impressed by the £130million savings delivered to date and the ‘impressively strong’ relationship with HP in delivering Agency services.

For further information, check out our press release.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

SPVA puts veterans in the frame

2010 will see SPVA developing Social Media products, embracing the latest ways to communicate our information to the Digital Generation.

Our products are raising awareness of the services our Agency provides to the Armed Forces Community. Over the past few months, we've launched our first podcasts followed by the recent introduction of our first videocast. All are accessible via our Social Media Hub which includes links to our products on YouTube and iTunes.

For further information about our first video cast, check out our latest press release here