The Poppy Factory has reached the milestone of supporting 1,000 veterans with physical or mental health challenges back into meaningful work, following a summer campaign urging people to write or post a good luck message for a veteran on their first day in their new job.
Members of the public have shown their support by including the phrase #1000messages in social media posts and written messages since Armed Forces Week in June, helping The Poppy Factory’s network of Employability Consultants connect with more veterans with health conditions across the country.
Now the charity hopes to reach more wounded, injured and sick veterans around the UK. The Poppy Factory estimates there are at least 20,000 veterans of working age in the UK who have physical and mental health challenges are struggling to get back into work after leaving the Armed Forces.1
The Poppy Factory’s Chief Executive Deirdre Mills said:
“We cannot thank the public enough for their support in getting behind our wounded, injured and sick veterans. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude and we are so proud that everyone came together to help. Our focus is on helping each veteran harness their own unique skills and abilities and by so doing move into long term meaningful employment. This means so much and will have a great impact upon their lives.”
Ex-Forces men and women who have been supported by The Poppy Factory were invited to a special reception hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House on September 5, in celebration of the 1,000 wounded, injured and sick veterans who have been supported by the charity’s Getting You Back to Work programme since 2010.
Father of two Danny Kitcher, 44, from Birmingham, the 1,000th veteran to be supported into work by The Poppy Factory, said:
“I served for over 12 years in the British Army with the Adjutant General Corps, as Combat HR Specialist. Unfortunately I broke my collar bone playing football for the Army, I had to have surgery and the injuries affected my spine and nerves, causing severe pain, numbness and tingling as well as mobility issues. It was very frustrating considering how energetic I’d been.
“It was a friend of mine who introduced me to The Poppy Factory. We served together and he was medically discharged too, and we talked a lot about how we could move forward. My employability consultant Becky was really helpful, working on my CV, linking me up with different opportunities and continually checking up on how I was doing.
“When I got a job at Jaguar Land Rover I was over the moon. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really enjoying it. I would like to thank The Poppy Factory for all the support they’ve given me.”
Speaking about his support from The Poppy Factory, veteran Chris O’Donnell said:
“I developed post-traumatic stress disorder following my time in the Royal Navy. The Poppy Factory helped me look for a career that would help me with my mental health. I can’t thank the Poppy Factory enough for the help and support they have given me. They opened my eyes up to what I can do and not what I can’t do.”
The Poppy Factory has been employing wounded, injured and sick veterans in their factory making Remembrance products for the Poppy Appeal since 1922 but in 2010 the charity started a programme to support veterans in their own communities get into jobs they want to do. The charity’s specialist employability team works tirelessly to help veterans with mental and or physical health impairments back into fulfilling careers.
- The Poppy Factory estimates there are at least 20,000 wounded, injured or sick veterans of working age in the UK who are struggling to get back into work after leaving the Armed Forces, based on the Ministry of Defence Annual Population Survey1, the Royal British Legion Household Survey (2014)2 and the Equality and research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission3.