Published: 13:45, 18 June 2019
| Updated: 13:49, 18 June 2019
Nicola Sturgeon has opened a social enterprise providing support to injured and out-of-work veterans developed by a Kent charity.
Scotland's Bravest Manufacturing Company (SBMC) will offer employment and support for up to 150 former military personnel north of the border over the next three years.
The Bishopton factory produces commercial signage and bespoke engineering, as well as supplying fulfilment, print and mailing services.
It is inspired by Royal British Legion Industries' (RBLI) factory in Aylesford, which this year is celebrating a century of support for veterans.
Scotland's First Minister said at a formal opening ceremony this week: “We greatly appreciate the work carried out with, and on behalf of, veterans by organisations such as Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.
"It really brings home Scotland’s commitment to supporting our Armed Forces community during the transition into civilian life and beyond.”
She also met with veterans including William Baillie who was medically discharged from the RAF in 2000 after almost a decade-long career.
Due to the onset his illness and further physical problems, William had not worked until finding SBMC.
He said: “You can tell what is happening here at SBMC is incredibly unique and exciting – and that’s evident by the First Minister kindly taking the time to open the factory.
"I’m seeing veterans from a range of backgrounds – all of whom are facing their own unique challenges – come here and find a totally new lease of life.”
SBMC began production in summer 2018 and has a client list that includes BEAR Scotland, Amey, Balfour Beattie and Network Rail along with many of the Scottish local authorities.
As a not-for-profit organisation, all surplus revenue is channelled back into the enterprise to further employment opportunity to veterans.
The development was a response to a study into the employment support needs of Scottish veterans, which found that ex-service personnel are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as civilians across the country.
RBLI chief executive Steve Sherry added: “The launching of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company has come at an historic time for Royal British Legion Industries, our centenary year.
“We have 100 years’ worth of experience in providing veterans – particularly those who face challenges due to physical and mental disability – with rewarding and sustained employment, in industry-leading environments, helping them to regain their independence.”
“We are immensely proud to be working collaboratively with Scottish Charities, commercial organisations and the government to provide the best opportunities for veterans.”
The RBLI needs to raise a further £2 million for the next stage of its Centenary Village project - a landmark scheme it hopes will be the cornerstone of its supportive efforts over the next 100 years.
If every one of the 1.1 million adults currently living across Kent were to donate just £2, this crucial project would be fully-funded - with change to spare for the RBLI’s other worthy causes.
That’s why the KM is launching the ‘Not 2 Much 2 Ask’ campaign - to encourage everyone to make such a donation by the end of the year and ensure this fantastic scheme, for our 2019 Charity of the Year, reaches its potential.
To donate £2, text ‘HOME’ to 70660* or visit rbli.co.uk/not2much2ask.
*Messages will be charged at £2 plus your standard network rate. You must be 16 years old and have the bill payer’s consent.
More by this authorTom Pyman