Introduction by the Chairman
2018 witnessed yet another milestone for the charity when Robert Robson, the founding CEO, stepped down after ten years in post. Robert was instrumental in setting the charity off on the right path and establishing its rightful place not just in the Naval Charity Sector but also in the wider Military Charity Sector. I know I speak for all Board members over the years when I record publicly our thanks to Robert and acknowledge all he has achieved.
The Charity Sector, especially in military terms, continues to evolve and develop and Adrian Bell, the new CEO, talks about this in his introduction to the Impact Report but we are seeing ever increasing demand in an interesting constrained financial environment. Achieving the appropriate levels of support for today’s beneficiaries whilst maintaining sufficient resources to ensure tomorrow’s beneficiaries are suitably supported is always a challenging conundrum for a Board but I believe that all that the charity achieved in 2018, and as highlighted in this Impact Report, shows very clearly the Board’s ongoing commitment to its beneficiaries both for today and tomorrow.
As the Navy’s national charity we are acutely aware of the sacrifice that Naval families make as we see first-hand the effect of long deployments and periods of separation. We firmly believe that although one person may join the Naval Service the whole family in effect ends up serving.
It is this belief that fuels our long-term commitment to supporting that Naval family. Societal mores and expectations have changed dramatically over the last couple of decades and the sort of long separations Naval Service personnel endure are certainly far from the norm in the way people like to lead their lives today. Public perception that military operations have all but finished plays into this agenda, but misses some really key issues. Naval personnel on operations do not have the ability to go home after their shift, or wind down with family and friends at the end of the week. Equally, what our serving personnel and veterans have experienced does not get easily erased by announcements that ‘military operations’ have ceased – when, for many, such experiences endure and have an indelible effect on their lives.
And this is where the Charity has a distinct part to play. We worked with a record number of charity partners in 2018 to improve the quality of life for all those who serve and their families, as well promoting independence and not creating dependence wherever we can among our veteran community.
“… we are acutely aware of the sacrifice that Naval families make as we see first-hand the effect of long deployments and periods of separation.”
Within these pages you will see that the Charity has been investing heavily over the course of the past year to deliver a family centre in the heart of Naval Service accommodation to support the burgeoning naval population as all submariners gradually migrate to Faslane. We have also taken our pilot short-term accommodation, prioritised for serving single-parent families, in Portsmouth and have been gradually spreading the model more widely across the naval estate. Both Yeovilton and Culdrose now boast similar facilities. Additionally we undertook refurbishment projects of mess facilities for all ranks both ashore and afloat and, two years into our ground breaking partnership with Relate, delivered our most comprehensive package of relationship support yet.
In the veteran space, we continued to work with a range of partners on a number of initiatives designed to tackle the insidious effects of loneliness and isolation. A number of our Helping Hands projects from the Veterans Information Point staged in conjunction with Age UK to the award-winning Project Semaphore, a ground breaking Royal Naval Association project in which lonely veterans were given iPads, demonstrated our commitment in this area. In the latter example, our funding provided a network of volunteers (themselves former Royal Navy personnel) who visited veterans in their own homes or in groups for training, guidance and encouragement to get online and using the equipment which they had been gifted. This element quickly became a critical part of the overall project delivery and has resulted in many new and wonderful friendships being formed.
“We worked with a record number of charity partners in 2018 to improve the quality of life for all those who serve and their families…”
The Royal Navy prides itself on taking care of its own – and so do we. From supporting serving personnel and their families to funding long term practical and emotional support for the nation’s veterans, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is proud to have established itself as the Charity of the Naval Service past, present and future. We take our lifetime responsibility to be by the side of everyone who wears - or who has worn – a naval uniform very seriously indeed.