We are coming through a period of change and we need to respond to this. It is a touch difficult for us to appreciate just how much things have changed as a result of recent events, including the wars in Iraq and AfghanistanCedric Delves
There has been increasing clarity in our world – the Service Charity world.
- The increased visibility of the Armed Forces and their activities resulted in a huge up swell of public sympathy and support.
- Government provision has improved out of recognition – it’s not just Murrison, the whole rehab scene and transition into civilian life has got so much better.
- We have over 300 new Members whose needs and expectations maybe different.
- Help for Heroes has proved transformational. All previous charities have had to adjust. But not only Help for Heroes, other new charities and old have all pitched in where previously it might have been just us and a couple of other specialists.
Through this we have maintained a steady course, holding firm to the needs of our established membership, helping notably with the early amputee demands of our new Members, informing and influencing government policy and provision.
Our stature is fine. We are respected, held in regard.
Even so, I believe that we have all sensed, to varying degrees, a need to take further stock, to ensure that we are wholly up with the demands of this changed scene. We are being challenged and we must rise to it.
We know Service injury like no other charity. There is nothing theoretical, third party,remote about us.
To guard against any myopic tendency, we brought in Mike Rowlatt a business consultant.
He was asked to take a look at us and our circumstances, to crystallize thinking.
Below are his findings -
- He confirmed that we had been right to hold steady. We are respected. Effective.
- He noted in particular the excellence of our Blesma Support Officers
- New charities have brought fresh ways. These resonate better with the younger generation in particular. By contrast, our virtues could look rather dated – bit like a much loved aunt – reliably, always there, particularly when things get tough, but not particularly exciting, easy to take for granted, wholesome, sensible in that faint whiff of camphor sort of way.
Clearly we had to respond, there is nothing theoretical in injury for us.
There seemed to be 3 broad options open to us
- Do nothing was there for completeness – ie fade away gracefully – in effect capitulate. Rejected
- Merge or amalgamate – there is some merit – efficiency, shared resources etc
- Develop further as the specialist charity for the membership as currently defined
We went for the third – specialisation.
This is about understanding the entirety of the current demands and needs of our Members against a full appreciation of what is available and potentially available, wherever positioned. There is much ground to make up, new ground to tread. This going to be about doing what only we can do, or are best placed to do. It is going to involve alliances, strategic partnerships. It is about continuing to serve an existing membership – and it must be about securing the new and any future Members.
This is going to take imagination, persuasion, humility and communication – all ofthe highest order.
The Board has put out a piece of ‘Commanders Intent’ confirming its resolve:
- To inspire
- To be the realisation and celebration of potential
- To be the principal Association for the Service Disabled
- To assist Members to live independent and fulfilling lives – our defining purpose
- To distinguish ourselves through a fellowship of shared experience
- To continue to be for life
The necessary changes and adjustments will reach into all aspects, all existing fields of endeavour – and should bring new things.
Some changes have been made, others identified already.
At Board level we propose to do away with the Nominated Posts and to re-appoint more specifically for need.
We have identified 3 new Trustees for election - Will Dixon, Tony Harris, and Allan Jackson all Members from recent operations.
To acknowledge our debt to the former National Advisory Committee, we propose tomake all former members Honorary Vice Presidents for life.
Similarly we propose to mark our highest regard for David Asdell and Henry Hugh Smith, former, distinguished trustees in the same way – to be Honorary Vice Presidents.
Sadly, we have closed Crieff. I take this opportunity to commend all involved in thismost difficult and somewhat complicated task. In particular I single out the former Crieff manager Hazel Kinchen-White for her inspiring management and humbling loyalty.
Blackpool thrives and will be with us for as long as there is the need. Entering fully into the spirit of things, they have widened the scope of their work and activities, including the hosting of a team of US Wounded Warriors.
HQ has started to adjust its size, structure and ways of doing things
- Activities/Rehab is being extended
- Prosthetics is covered specifically
- The Fund Raisers have been increased, their activities extended
- Finances are in sound shape and being managed more closely to a Plan and Programme of objectives and aspirations
I would again stress that we are the start of something. We have yet to determineits full extent.
Things will be added. There may be things to subtract. There will be things to enhance and do differently.
We shall be looking to our new trustees for guidance, particularly as things concern their part of the membership.
I close by affirming the Boards resolve for Blesma to become a byword. The acid test will be public recognition, recognition that we are uniquely OF and FOR the Service Disabled.
- We must become known for our understanding, ability to connect and out actions.
- We shall have the deepest understanding and knowledge of what it is to be Service Disabled
- We will be bound by fellowship of shared experience, connecting member to member, member to any relevant others
- We will use our knowledge and connectivity to act with precision