University awarded for its support of Armed Forces personnel and their families

27 Aug 2019

The Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award has been granted to the University of Winchester in recognition of its commitment to being an Armed Forces-friendly employer, and its support of the wider forces community and of the families of military personnel.

As a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant, the University pledges to ensure military personnel, including reservists and veterans, are treated fairly. Winchester has implemented a variety of supportive initiatives including a flexible working policy and additional leave allowance to enable reservists to balance weekly training commitments and fulfil their deployment duties. Mentors, who are themselves ex-forces employees, are also available to veterans, service leavers and the wounded, injured and sick to help with the transition into civilian work.

Ian Tonks, Campus Manager at the University and a veteran, said: "As an employer, the University of Winchester is very understanding of meeting the need of veterans. As a veteran myself, I was keen to see where the University could help fellow veterans within the local community. As a departmental head, I oversee the largest number of employees within the campus and have encouraged my managers to recruit new starters from a military background.

"Recently I was made aware that the local Armed Forces Breakfast Club had ceased to run due to lack of facilities. With the support of the Vice-Chancellor, I proposed continuing the club at the University. My line manager and the University have been keen to support me on this venture and manage my time to allow for the organisation of the club."

Another employee said: "As a military spouse, my routine can change at short notice, but the knowledge of service life across the University has created an environment in which I can be open about my connection to the military without concern. I was even able to take leave during a busy period for our team last year, thanks to the University's pledge to allow a degree of flexibility in allowing leave after deployments."

The University hosts the Service Children's Progression (SCiP) Alliance, a partnership of organisations focused on improving outcomes for children from military families, funded by the Ministry of Defence. The SCiP Alliance has led work in acknowledging the under-representation of Service children in higher education and is at the forefront of championing Service children. It also drives practice, policy and research, in collaboration with partners such as the respective families' federations, local authorities and higher education institutions across the UK.

Dr Paul Everill, senior lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, Anthropology and Geography, has recently secured funding from the Society of Antiquaries to employ a former Royal Marine as a part-time researcher. This new academic project will focus on evaluating the impact of participation on archaeological excavations as a rehabilitation vehicle for veterans.

In partnership with the charity Help for Heroes, in 2016 the University launched the Heritage for Heroes initiative, which welcomes wounded, injured and sick former service personnel on to undergraduate degree courses in Archaeology to help them develop new skills as they recover and transition into civilian careers.

Winchester is also a member of the Universities in Support of Wounded, Injured and Sick Service Personnel (UNSWIS) network which helps service leavers with organising tailored visits and work placements, giving an insight into jobs and educational opportunities within universities.

Colette Fletcher, Assistant Vice-Chancellor at the University of Winchester, said: "We are proud to have received recognition for the work we do, but prouder still of those who serve, or who have served in the armed forces. At Winchester, people are at the heart and centre of what we do, and that includes the armed forces community. We celebrate the experiences and skills that they bring with them and are committed to supporting them and their families in any way we can."

Commenting on the announcement of the 2019 Employer Recognition Scheme Silver awards, Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said: "These awards recognise the outstanding support for our armed forces from employers across Britain and I would like to thank and congratulate each and every one.

"Regardless of size, location or sector, employing ex-forces personnel is good for business and this year we have doubled the number of awards in recognition of the fantastic support they give."

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said: "Veterans make a huge contribution to businesses across the country and it's fantastic to see a record breaking number of organisations recognised for their support.

"We're working closely with businesses to help them further understand the huge value that veterans, reservists and military spouses can bring to their organisation."

The University of Winchester will be attending a ceremony to receive its Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award on 4 September, at Admiral Nelson's iconic flagship HMS Victory in the Historic Dock Yard, in Portsmouth.

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