Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling toured Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company this week – a social enterprise which employs injured veterans and people with disabilities – as part of the government’s plan to help one million more disabled people into work.
The Transport Secretary met with workers at the Kent-based BBMC, which is run by charity Royal British Legion Industries and employs more than 100 people – more than 70% of whom are ex-service personnel, have a physical or hidden disability, or both.
The visit to the factory, which produces road and rail signs for companies across both the public and private sector including Network Rail and Kent County Council, comes after the government announced the major new strategy called ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’.
The plan, announced last November following a green paper in 2016, pledges to get one million more disabled people into work by 2027.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
“We have the highest rate of employment since comparative records began and the last four years alone have seen 600,000 more disabled people enter employment which is extremely encouraging, and we want to continue to learn what can be done so people do not face obstacles in achieving their potential.
“Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company are industry leaders in the transport sector whilst also providing phenomenal employment opportunities to people with disabilities and injured ex-service personnel. The commitment and drive I witnessed today only goes to support the government’s position that when people with disabilities are given the opportunity of employment, they can achieve the highest of standards.”
RBLI’s Chief Executive Brigadier Steve Sherry CMG OBE, who served in the Army for 38 years, said the recent accomplishments of Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, who last year secured a multimillion-pound deal with Network Rail, is a testament to the potential of people with disabilities.
“We are immensely proud at RBLI to say that Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company is a commercially sustainable and socially-thriving enterprise, recognised by individuals such as the Secretary of State for its commitment to offering people the opportunity to really succeed in life.
“Having seen the tremendously positive affect employment has on people with disabilities, we fully support the government in their commitment to helping one million more disabled people into work.”
Amongst the veterans working at BBMC is former Royal Engineer Tim Brown who was diagnosed with PTSD after 23 years in the Armed Forces which saw him tour in the Gulf War, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and Iraq.
Tim, who is now a team leader in the factory’s fulfilment department, said he found Royal British Legion Industries at a good time in his life.
He added: “I have done and seen things in my life that most people wouldn’t dream of, and so to come to somewhere like this, it’s peaceful, calm and safe. To be part of that is brilliant.
“I do think there are people here who may find it difficult to sustain a job outside of RBLI, but here disabilities are catered for and people are cared for.
“It’s an amazing place to work because everybody looks after each other – from the very top to the bottom.
“I come to work with a smile – I never did that when I was doing any other job.”
About RBLI (Royal British Legion Industries)
Established in 1919, Royal British Legion Industries is an independent national charity aiming to provide employment, training and support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependents; as well as those with a disability or health condition and those who have been long-term unemployed.
Royal British Legion Industries is a separate charity from Royal British Legion but has a shared ethos of supporting the Armed Forces community.
Based on RBLI’s Aylesford village, BBMC is a social enterprise which directly employs more than 100 people – more than 70% of whom are either ex-service personnel or disabled or both.
The company manufactures a range of products and services for both the public and private sector: fulfilment services, commercial, road and rail signage, printing and mailing, and wooden products.
BBMC, whose ex-military staff produce the vast majority of road signs around Kent, last year secured a multimillion-pound deal with Network Rail which saw the social enterprise become their sole provider of lineside signage.
BBMC generates £5 million in revenue and any surplus is immediately reinvested back into the company so that more opportunities are available to beneficiaries.