The Military Connection
1,500 organisations have now signed the Armed Forces Covenant, including charities like Help for Heroes. Independence Homes wanted to show its support by signing its own pledge. The Covenant is regarded with great significance and represents an organisation’s commitment to supporting the armed forces. It seemed a fitting way to recognise all the connections our company have with the military, whether that be through staff or those that we support.
Two of our long-standing and valued staff members, Sara McCague and Karen Lorimer, have both led Cadet groups for many years, 23 and 22 respectively. Karen is a Captain in the Royal Regiment of the Fusiliers and Sara is a Sergeant Major in the Blues and Royals. I had the opportunity to catch up with them to learn more about the armed forces and our connections.
Karen informed me that the company’s military connection starts with Caterham, the location of our head office and two of our services. Home to military barracks until 1995, which were built as a depot for the Foot Guards regiments in 1877.
We recently welcomed a young man called Tomas, who has served with the military for nearly eight years. Tomas is currently being supported through his long-term rehabilitation following a traumatic brain injury but the military of course still holds enormous importance in his life. Ensuring Tomas maintains his connection to the military is essential for improving his motivation, mood and general wellbeing.
Karen recalls their first meeting: “I asked Tomas which regiment he was in and he told me it was the Fusiliers, so I asked, first or second? And then, which company? He looked at me hard; there was an instant recognition – if you weren’t in the military, you wouldn’t ask those questions. I told him I was also a Fusilier, and he asked me what rank I was? So I told him I was a captain and from that moment on he only ever calls me ‘Marm’.”
Sara helps illuminate how important this could be for Tomas. He will now recognise that Karen completely understands some of his ways related to his army background. ‘The banter” for example. “Just generally the way they act and speak”, Karen concludes, “Having that insight makes understanding someone a lot easier”.
Sara and Karen both agree that their work with the military puts them at an advantage in working to support people with complex care needs.
“We see a lot of people from different backgrounds; we can build relationships and connections a lot quicker than some people. Breaking the ice, that can take some people months. For us it just takes a few weeks”.
Sara describes how organising a Service User holiday is a ‘walk in the park ‘compared to ‘taking three hundred cadets away’.
Tomas has been maintaining a high level of fitness since he moved to his new flat and enjoys visiting the gym several times a week. Exploring ways Tomas will have continued involvement with the military makes up part of his key-working. “There will be lots of possibilities – The Invictus Games, volunteering at the Regimental Museum and taking part in regimental events could be a few ways of achieving this”, Karen tells me. “We will work with Tomas’s Post Resettlement Officer and his regiment to open up as many opportunities for support as possible”.
Karen was involved in supporting Tomas’s attendance at a regimental lunch at the Tower of London recently, pictures of the occasion show him looking incredibly smart and smiling broadly. From this lunch Karen has had offers of support for Tomas from serving soldiers who are prepared to give up their free time to give Tomas access to activities and events.
Finding ways to support every individual in achieving their goals is one of the core principles to our support. Being part of Tomas’s continued connection with the military has been a privilege and has only reinforced all of our respect for the armed forces.
Our Pledge- We, the undersigned, commit to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and support the Armed Forces Community. We recognise the value Serving Personnel, both Regular and Reservists, Veterans and military families contribute to our business and our country.