Plans by Royal British Legion Industries to launch a new operation in Scotland were among the many interesting topics discussed when the Chairman of Kent County Council, David Brazier, visited the charity’s Aylesford headquarters.
He also heard about the wide variety of products made on site, including signs for Network Rail, Highways England and KCC itself.
“I was pleased to discover that we and our highways maintenance contractors are great supporters of RBLI’s initiatives,” he said.
“Some very advanced technology is used, but the operation is dependent on the skills of the operatives on the shop floor, 80 per cent of whom are disabled.”
The charity, which began life as Industrial Settlements almost 100 years ago, is a sister charity of the British Legion, with a shared ethos of supporting the Armed Forces community.
RBLI’s main purpose is help those who have served in the Armed Forces in the past and the families of those still serving, through employment support, training and accommodation. It was named the National Charity Times Charity of the Year in 2013.
It is currently building a new settlement on land behind the 1920s cottages on Hermitage Lane. This will operate as a social enterprise under the name Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, whose managing Director Geoff Streetley acted as Mr Brazier’s guide for the day.
“I have enormous admiration for the work of the RBLI, which operates with insight, inventive talent and achieves a turnover of £5.5million,” said Mr Brazier. “It provides employment opportunities to disabled veterans and civilians in a not-for-profit social enterprise that helps provide accommodation and support for those injured in conflict.
“The men I met were clearly very good at what they did and very happy to be doing it.”
The new factory in Scotland will be located along the M8 “belt” and will probably employ about 40 part-time workers. It will operate as a “supported company”, which is one where at least 50% of the workers are disabled people; in Aylesford the figure is 70%.
“This was one of the most satisfying visits I have made during my year of office so far,” said Mr Brazier.