Partnerships between defence and civilian employers are a fundamental foundation of the UK’s Reserve Forces.
Thousands of partnerships exist to support and advocate not just the Reserves, but former and serving Armed Forces personnel and their families and Cadets across the East Midlands.
Some of these are informal, whereas others are formally recognised by entry into the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
Each year, the most extraordinary champions are awarded the Ministry of Defence’s highest accolade for employers – the Gold Award – which this year took place in Grantham on Thursday 19 October.
This honour recognises organisations which proactively demonstrate their Forces-friendly credentials as part of their recruiting and selection processes. They also, amongst other policies, provide Reserves within their workforce with at least 10 days of additional paid leave for training.
In return, employers benefit from members of staff who return with new qualifications and skills.
For 2023, each recipient was handed their award by Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes CBE, Deputy Commander of UK Strategic Command.
They were joined by special guests His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenants of Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire.
The Officers’ Mess unique charm provided a special backdrop to what was a special occasion. A display of light field guns courtesy of 103 Regiment Royal Artillery, a visit from The Mercian Regiment’s mascot Lance Corporal Derby, support from military musicians and also the Prince William of Gloucester Detachment Army Cadets added to the ceremony’s distinct atmosphere.
Steve Martin, Chair of the Armed Forces Staff Network at ULHT, said: “I’m exceptionally proud of all the work we have done as a Trust to support members of the Armed Forces, Veterans, Cadet Forces Adult Volunteers and military spouses and family members.”
“Some of the work we have done includes ‘Step into Health’ Insight days and placements for the UK Armed Forces Community, the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, re-validation as a Veteran Aware Trust and assessing our policies to ensure they are forces friendly, such as additional paid leave for Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers.”
“As the first NHS Trust in Lincolnshire to achieve the Gold Award, we look forward to working closely with our NHS partners to share our learning and make the NHS in Lincolnshire a better place for the Armed Forces Community to work and receive care.”
Fred Hopkins, Head of Engagement at East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, added: “Achieving the Gold Award is a remarkable accomplishment and I would like to congratulate United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
“We are very proud of the support and advocacy our Gold holders provide to Defence, especially for Reserves and Cadets.
“I very much look forward to building on these mutually-beneficial partnerships and establishing even more through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in the years ahead.”
Kirstie Lawrence, Regional Employer Engagement Director at East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, said: “Award holders in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme celebrate the excellence of Defence people in the workplace routinely, having seen it for themselves and now gaining Gold for promoting it to others who have since shared that success. So it was a wonderful experience to thank them. “