Making an Impact
The Black Country Chamber of Commerce works tirelessly to help raise awareness of the businesses, skills and employability of our UK Armed Forces community. In 2020 we proudly received the Defence Employer Recognition GOLD Award, which is testimony to our team’s endeavours over the years to engage and ensure the profile of our military community is raised at the highest levels.
Since 2013 we have successfully delivered ‘Supporting the Unsung Hero’ Business start-up programme to the Armed Forces community. This is a 10-month business start-up programme open to spouses of Veterans, Reservists and Serving Armed Forces personnel, at no cost, and has already been attended by more than 800 Service spouses at MOD bases throughout the UK, British Forces Cyprus, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Gibraltar. Since 2019 we have been delighted to enable Veterans to access the same training programme and we continue to run the programme taking over from the University of Wolverhampton.
As an organisation we are committed to upholding our covenant pledge, as such we have implemented a number of new initiatives and volunteered to support shared intelligence with research around the benefits of the Armed Forces covenant. We have hosted focus groups with local businesses and partner organisations of which our valued input formed part of the final research document on How to improve the delivery of organisational pledges made under the Armed Forces Covenant FiMT ‘Benefit not a Burden.’
As a result of this research we identified an opportunity to support our wider Chamber network, businesses and local organisations to sign an Armed Forces Community Covenant of their own and effectively deliver their pledges. Working in partnership with FiMT we have launched the Chamber Military Network a UK wide project to support Chambers of Commerce and their members to embrace and advocate the Armed Forces Covenant.
Our appointed Armed Forces Champion Sarah Walker launched a new Armed Forces Families Working Group in 2019 which has continued to grow and is attended by a wide range of influencing organisations such as the tri-service family federations, Armed Forces Charities, Universities, Government departments including the Office of Veteran affairs and British Forces Broadcasting Service. The group works to ensure collaboration and best practice and feeds directly into the MOD Partner Employment Steering Group. Sarah’s role as our Armed Forces Champion has enabled engagement with all four local authority strategic Armed Forces Covenant boards and she is also a member of the West Midlands REED. In addition to our work as a key business training partner to the Tri-Service Family Federations we supported their Forces Families Jobs portal in the development of the platform and continue to work with the team to promote the value of their service.
Our other work includes:
- Formed a strong collaboration with Wolverhampton County Council and the REED to support the Armed Forces Community in business.
- Hold a quarterly Armed Forces working group
- We have a strong partnership with the Richardson group and are planning a series of events to boost awareness within their supplier network.
- Host an annual event in Black Country Business Festival weeks #Saluteourforces
- Support Armed Forces day in Wolverhampton and Dudley
- Host a partner and staff briefing with the Armed Forces engagements teams, to inform partners of the role of today’s Armed Forces.
- Annual Remembrance Day showcase, in partnership with Dudley Council, Dudley College and the Richardson Group.
"The Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce, of which we are members is extremely pro-active and since joining we have benefited from free training seminars, attendance at industry events such as Expo, speaking opportunities and also support in our endeavours to deliver our training into Europe.”
“We have been a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant since its first inception and we are proud to be so. We are now Silver ERS award holders, the covenant has raised our profile on social media and we have benefited from the networking opportunities that have come our way from meeting other like minded organisations.”