Friday, 9 March 2012

What's new this week?

Did you know that we are only 108 days away from Armed Forces Day 2012?   If you want to know what's being planned or if there's going to be an event in your local area, then visit the official website.

More Community Covenants have been signed in South Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

We are busy working on our next podcast, hopefully to go live later in the month.  It's an interview with Alison Davies, Officer in Charge of the Veterans Welfare Service.    The interview follows the launch of our latest video on the Service, which you can view below . . .

There's details of a Wreath Laying Ceremony at Runnymede Memorial on our what's new page.  There's also an appeal by 360 Productions, who want to interview Second World War veterans from 100 Bomber Group.  Ladies can also be fabulous while raising money for the Erskine charity, at a lunch planned in May with celebrity host Jenny Eclair.

As we are moving closer to Spring (and hopefully warmer months), you might be starting to plan events that would be of interest to the Armed Forces Community.  Please don't forget to add details on our online events calendar.

Friday, 2 March 2012

It's weekly round up time

SPVA staff in action

So last weekend, SPVA had a stand at the 'Who Do You Think You Are - Live' exhibition.  It was a great event to attend, where we could raise awareness of our relevant services to the audience of historians, amateur geologists, etc.   We spoke to over 1,000 people over the weekend (and that's not counting people visiting the stand and taking away our information).  We even had a celebrity visitor - Tony Robinson from the Time Team!

Getting ready for another busy exhibition day

On Twitter, we now have over 800 followers, so we want to say thank you to our followers for supporting us and sharing our tweets.  If you use Twitter, then don't forget to follow us.

The Facebook timeline roll-out has reached the official SPVA Facebook page and we think it looks rather good.   With our current number of followers (or should that be 'likers'), we have the potential to reach over 200,000 people, which is an amazing concept from a communications point of view.  This doesn't mean that we don't want or need more followers, so please like our page or share our links.

Our customer satisfaction survey closed, over 2,000 people completing the survey online, so thank you for taking part.

We are adding more updates to our Charity Hub and events calendar.  If you are planning an event or work for a charity, that supports veterans, then make sure you submit details for consideration.

Visit our Veterans Community News page and find out which regional service for the Armed Forces Community received royal approval this week.

One final note, our website received ABC accreditation this week, after being audited based on our January 2012 statistics, where we had over 60,000 visits to our site.

We are currently developing our next videocast and podcast to be released over the next few months. So in the meantime, take a look at our YouTube channel or visit our podcast library to look or listen to our archives.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, 27 February 2012

The SPVA Survey is closing soon

There's still time to take part in the SPVA Customer Satisfaction Survey, that can be completed online.   The survey closes at the end of February, so please take the opportunity to make your opinions known.

It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete and over 1,600 people have completed the online survey, so why don't you take part today.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Community Covenants signed in Birmingham and Fife

The signing of Fife's Community Covenant [picture MOD copyright]

Birmingham and Fife are the latest regions to sign up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant, committed to supporting members of the Armed Forces
Representatives from the Fife Partnership and the Armed Forces met on 21 February, in Glenrothes to sign Fife's Armed Forces Community Covenant while at the same time Birmingham's civic leaders also joined with representatives of the Armed Forces in England's second city.

The important new agreements will build on existing good relations between the Armed Forces and public sector organisations in both Fife and Birmingham and follow several other such agreements signed in communities up and down the country.
The aim of the Community Covenant is to encourage organisations across the UK to support the Armed Forces community in accessing the assistance they might need.

In Fife, for example, this could include support from the charity and voluntary sector as well as organisations including Fife Council, NHS Fife, and Fife Constabulary.

Shropshire Union Canal in Birmingham [picture MOD copyright]

In Birmingham, the Covenant will benefit both serving and ex-Service personnel, covering vital areas including housing, employment, education and health. Under the Covenant, the council will establish a set of principles which will set out how it will support veterans in making the transition back into civilian life.

In addition, as part of the Covenant, members of the Armed Forces will be encouraged to do as much as they can to support the communities they live in and promote activities which help integrate the Service community into civilian life.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Where will you be this weekend?

The SPVA stand can be found in the National Hall, to the right of the main 'Ancestry Academy Stage'

Well, SPVA will be in London this weekend, attending the Who Do You Think You Are Live exhibition.  The event being held at London Olympia from the 24 to 26 February.

The SPVA stand will be manned by staff from the MOD Medals Office and our Historical Casualty Work Team,  you can also find out about our work on Aircraft Archaeology licensing and speak to staff from our Veterans Support.  We'll be able to give advice on entitlement to medals, you can talk to our 'war detectives' who try to identify the remains of First and Second World War casualties which are still being discovered on battlefields today and if you are a veteran, then we can tell you all about the services we provide for the Armed Forces Community.

If you've an interest in genealogy, then this might be an event for you.  And, if you decide to come to the event, then make sure you pop by our stand and say hello.

Please note: there is an admission charge for this event. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

FAB returns for 2012

Children at the Ability Outdoors centre in Dalby Forest taking part in confidence and team-building activities [Picture MOD copyright]
The Families' Activity Breaks (FAB) are returning in the summer of 2012 to offer bereaved military families fun and challenging activity-based holidays.

The holidays are designed for families, with children up to 19 years of age, who have suffered the loss of a loved one serving in the Armed Forces.

More details on FAB can be found on the MOD website.

The holidays offer adventure for all the family and a welcome break to meet and socialise with others who have experienced a similar loss [picture MOD copyright]

Friday, 17 February 2012

SPVA news round up

There are a number of items on our website that are likely to be of interest to the Armed Forces Community, so I thought I might point out a few for you to look at over the weekend.

Our survey said . . . over 3,000 people have taken part in our Customer Satisfaction Survey, which closes in a couple of weeks.  It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete online, so please consider taking part.

We launched our Charity Hub a couple of weeks ago, it's a work in progress with new charities being researched and added.  It's there for you to get information on charities and organisations that are supporting the Armed Forces Community.  If you work for a charity supporting veterans, then consider contacting us to add your details to the Hub.

Have you taken a look at our online Events Calendar?  We've added some new events recently and the aim of the calendar is to raise awareness of events across the UK.  There might be an event being held in your local area, so it's worth taking a look.  The calendar is free and simple to use, so if you are organising an event, then consider adding your details to the calendar.

If you are a veteran, then our online Veterans Community webpages could have news that you'd like to know; whether its an appeal from an ex-Service charity for volunteers or the chance to tell your story in a TV documentary.

I also found out this week, that over 800,000 HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badges have been issued to date.  So, I thought our Veterans Today video on the badge might provide you with some further information.  If you haven't got your badge yet, don't forget to apply.

Have a great weekend!

Providing vital support to the Armed Forces

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter comes in to land at Camp Bastion, Helmand,Afghanistan [Image MOD Copyright]

You might be interested in one of the MOD's online news articles today - Getting personnel home in a hurry.

It's about how the Compassionate Cell, based in at Abbey Wood in Bristol, bring Service personnel and civil servants home from anywhere in the world when they are needed by their families. This service is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Cell works with the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), based at SPVA at Imjin Barracks, Gloucester and the Employee Wellbeing Centre based at the Defence Business Services.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Armed Forces Tribute for the Diamond Jubilee

The custom of the Armed Forces paying tribute to a monarch during a jubilee year is an established tradition
The Armed Forces are to mount a spectacular tribute to the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee year, 
In honour of Her Majesty The Queen's 60-year reign, Armed Forces personnel will parade through Windsor and muster at the castle on Saturday 19 May 2012.  Nearly 2,500 troops from the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force will parade through Windsor in the presence of Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh.
They will then muster in the castle grounds for a unique event before an audience of more than 3,000 Armed Forces personnel, their families, and veterans. An impressive, tri-Service flypast of current and historic aircraft will conclude the celebrations.

Still a chance to have your say

Our Customer Satisfaction Survey closes at the end of February.  so there's still time to take part.  It's an opportunity to have your say on SPVA and our services available to the Armed Forces Community.

The survey is available online 

Over 3,200 people have taken part so far, with over 1,600 surveys completed online.

It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, so consider putting the survey on your 'To Do' list today.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

More Community Covenants signed

Representatives of the Military and Community Leaders were present at the signing of the Gateshead Community Covenant 

Armed Forces Community Covenants signed in Gateshead and Preston

In two separate signing ceremonies local members of the Armed Forces, both past and present, together with their families, have received a public promise of support from the people of Gateshead and Preston.

Last week, Gateshead Council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant, pledging to work with local charities and voluntary groups, businesses and private individuals to support current and ex-Service personnel throughout the borough.  Preston City Council became the latest local authority to pledge its support to the military through its signing of a Community Covenant this Monday.
The Community Covenant initiative was one of the key measures in the Armed Forces Covenant published in May 2011. 

Join our hub

You can also access the hub direct on your Smart phone by using the QR code below

We  launched our new Charity Hub which provides detailed information on charities and other organisations that provide support to the Armed Forces community.
With an increasing number of visitors to our  website each month, we’re hoping the hub will be a valuable tool for both ex-Service personnel and their families and all the organisations supporting them.

Scan to get straight to the Charity Hub
The pages provide comprehensive, at a glance pages utilising existing valuable contacts and incorporating many new ones too.
Any charities or organisations, supporting veterans, who want to sign up to the hub,  please express interest by dropping us an email.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Presentation of Afghanistan Medals

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall presenting an Afghanistan campaign medal to Able Seaman Michelle Ping, winner of 'Best Reservist' at last year's Sun Military Awards
[Picture: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
The Duchess of Cornwall, Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Medical Services, presented Afghanistan medals to more than 200 men and women from all three Services at a parade on Friday at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth.

By far the greatest number of personnel came from the Royal Navy, which led the joint medical support for Operation HERRICK 14.
Some of the men and women on parade were receiving a medal for their first tour of duty, others had already completed several tours.

The MOD Medals Office is part of the services that the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency provides for the Armed Forces Community.  If you want to know more about this work, then take a look at our Veterans Today video below.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

SPVA Charity Hub near completion

If you're an organisation or charity supporting the veterans community, then make sure we have your details to add to our new Charity Hub which is due to be launched at the end of the month.

The Charity Hub will provide information on organisations, charities or services that support veterans, in either the community or voluntary sector.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Get your smart phones ready

Here at SPVA, we're looking at ways people search for information and we're also embracing digital and social media so we can share our information in different ways. 

So, for those of you lucky enough to have a Smart Phone, here's a SPVA QR code to scan that will take you directly to our website.

We'd be interested to know if you use QR codes to find information, so post a comment and let us know.

Monday, 16 January 2012

SPVA is getting more sociable

We launched our Facebook page today.  The page will complement our existing social media work on Twitter,  podcasts and videos, which can be found on our Social Media Hub.

If you use Facebook as a way of finding or sharing information then your help in raising awareness of our Facebook page would be greatly appreciated. Simply visit our page today and click on the share button on the left hand side of the page.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Latest Community Covenant signed

Earlier this week, Broxtowe Borough in Nottinghamshire showed its support for the local Armed Forces yesterday by signing up to the Community Covenant Scheme.

The Community Covenant was signed by representatives from the Broxtowe Borough Partnership, Voluntary Action Broxtowe and the borough's civilian community.
The first Community Covenant, a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community, was signed in Oxfordshire in June 2011.

It followed the publication of the Armed Forces Covenant in May 2011 which outlined the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces and aims to improve support to the Armed Forces Community (which includes serving personnel, their families and veterans).

Monday, 9 January 2012

Make Your Opinion Count

The Veterans' Customer Satisfaction Survey is available to complete up until the end of February

The Veteran's Customer Satisfaction Survey was launched online today, 9 January, and if you are part of the veteran's community we urge you to have your say.

SPVA provides pay, pension and support services to both Military Personnel and the Veteran's Community, directly serving around 900,000 members of the Armed Forces Community.

The survey is based around the services provided to veterans, with emphasis on; how they contact us and how we correspond; making a claim; the Veteran's Welfare Service and how information about SPVA is obtained.

Over 3,000 people took part in the 2011 survey and this kind of feedback is extremely useful to establish what is important to the individuals that use our services.

Jon Parkin, Head of SPVA Veterans Services, recording the podcast

As Jon Parkin, Head of SPVA Veterans Services said in his recent podcast interview;

"...the survey is not just here to give us a pat on the back. We want and need to know the bad as well as the good about the services received. The only way we can do this is by getting feedback from our customers."

The survey is entirely anonymous and no-one will be contacted by phone or sent mailings as a result of completing it.

The survey can be accessed here, the survey will close on 29 February 2012.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Get ready for the 2012 Veterans' Survey

Next week, SPVA will be launching the Veterans' Customer Satisfaction Survey that can be completed online.

In our first podcast of 2012, SPVA presenter Joanne Lowe interviews Jon Parkin, Head of SPVA Veterans Services, about the survey.

If you want to know how you can get involved, then take a listen.  The podcast can be downloaded straight from our website or via iTunes.

Find out more about the Veterans Welfare Service

Late last year, we released our newest video.  The five minute film, the latest in the Agency’s ‘Veterans Today’ series, aims to raise awareness of the one-to-one help provided by Veterans Welfare Service, in the home if needed, to anyone who has served in the Armed Forces.

In the film, Presenter Don Goldie investigates the origins of the service nearly a century ago, when its role was to look after the welfare needs of First World War casualties, Service widows and orphans, though to the current day and those affected by operations in Afghanistan. The video explains how the Veterans Welfare Service has retained its core principles, whilst adapting to a much wider role as part of the Government’s commitments under the Armed Forces Covenant. It shows how welfare support is provided automatically to those medically discharged and for those bereaved by service, with an ‘on request’ service to all other members of the veterans community, including dependents and families.

Alison Davies, Manager of the Veterans Welfare Service for the UK and Ireland, explained how important the video is to raising awareness about the service among generations of veterans:

“The Veterans Welfare Service has been providing help and support to the veterans community for almost 100 years and through two World Wars. Our more recent work includes helping those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq but we are still here for veterans of any age, no matter when or for how long they served. This video will really help us raise awareness of our services and I hope it encourages any veterans who need welfare support to get in touch.”

The Veterans Welfare Service works in partnership with the Armed Forces, Service and ex-Service charities, local authorities and local Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees to deliver a quality welfare service that promotes independence and dignity via continuous support. Veterans requiring welfare help or assistance can contact the service by calling the Veterans-UK helpline, free, on 0800 169 2277.

Our ‘Veterans Today’ videos are available on the SPVA Social Media Hub that can be accessed via the Veterans-UK website -  . They are also available via the SPVA channel on YouTube