Welfare Minister, Caroline Nokes, visited The Poppy Factory last week to learn about how the charity helps disabled ex-Service individuals back into employment.
The Poppy Factory’s employability work is naturally of interest to the Department of Work and Pensions, who provide various employment support services for people with health conditions.
The Minister was introduced to Trustees and members of the Executive team to learn about employment support in the Armed Forces sector and was subject to a light grilling about the Government’s future plans for the Work Programme and benefits for disabled veterans.
Nokes was impressed by The Poppy Factory’s figures showing 74% of beneficiaries remain in-work after 12 months. She was also heartened to hear that the charity follows the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model and is therefore not selective of its clients – often supporting some of the hardest-to-help individuals back into work.
She was then taken on a tour of the factory, where she got to speak to several veterans about their experiences of DWP and charitable employment support and even got to make her own Remembrance poppy.
The Minister is very empathetic for the needs and challenges of disabled people and she reassured the Executive team that the Government had plans in place to improve its support programmes and provide clarity over the benefits appeals process. She also talked about Armed Forces champions – now there is one in every Jobcentre whereas previously there were just regional champions.
It was a positive meeting on both sides and we look forward to working more closely with the DWP to provide better support for the Armed Forces community.