Fundraisers - Impact report 2023

The Campaigns, Policy and Research Team are committed to advocating for better support for our Armed Forces community at national, devolved and local government levels.

We influence a wide range of policy areas including health, social care, welfare benefits, employment, housing, and education, to ensure the interests of the Armed Forces community are always considered.

In 2023, CPR made great strides in strengthening the evidence base on the needs of the Armed Forces community, developing a comprehensive analysis of issues affecting our community and gaps in policy and practice to address them. This has helped transform how we structure our campaigning work.

From the launch of the RBL Councillor Network, the Credit their Service campaign, and our 2024 General Election manifesto, responding to 31 consultations, kicking off major new research, and understanding our community using Census and wider data releases; 2023 was a busy, exciting and successful year for the Campaigns, Policy and Research team.

Last year RBL was voted a Top Three campaigning charity by MPs.

The NFP Charity parliamentary monitor produces regular surveys of parliamentarians representative of the composition of Parliament in terms of both political party and region. Although the rating reflects positively on RBL as a whole, the rating indicates CPR’s effective communication with MPs, only made possible by the cohesive work of the team researching and developing policy, and communicating it effectively in Westminster, in constituencies and across the devolved nations of the UK.

In 2023 Polimonitor ranked us the most mentioned charity by MPs on X

Our @PoppyLegion handle was mentioned 321 times by MPs, reflective of our impactful engagement with politicians, briefing them on key issues that affect our Armed Forces community, our campaigns and recommendations, and information on commemorative events.

Throughout the year, we sent out 40 briefings to Ministers, MPs, Peers, MSPs, MSs, and Councillors, across all the major UK parties including Conservative, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrats.

In 2023, the CPR team:

Paul Sweeney, Scottish Labour spokesperson for veterans and MSP for Glasgow
Paul Sweeney, Scottish Labour spokesperson for veterans and MSP for Glasgow

Promoted the Paper Poppy

CPR colleagues briefed MPs in England, Scotland and Wales on the new Plastic- Free Poppy. Alongside Poppyscotland and Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, we invited core stakeholders to tour the factory where the poppy is produced, alongside Poppyscotland wreaths and thousands of RBL wreaths.

Paul Sweeney, Scottish Labour spokesperson for veterans and MSP for Glasgow

Established our Campaigner Community

We increased our engagement with our campaigners, communicating through regular newsletters. This has given us more of a dialogue with our campaigners, and given supporters more awareness of and involvement in what we do.

Our Campaigner Community has impacted our campaign work by emailing their MPs, signing petitions and sharing their stories, which allowed us to reach politicians and decision makers like never before.

We are so grateful to have amassed thousands of new campaigners and are excited for more growth in 2024.

Join our Campaigner Community today and receive updates on our campaigns and how you can get involved!

Become a Campaigner

Launched our Credit their Service Campaign

In July 2023 we launched a campaign demanding the end to the unfair treatment of military compensation as income by welfare benefit means tests, which results in some veterans and their families missing out on thousands of pounds a year.

So far, 17 councils have agreed to disregard military compensation when assessing for various means tested benefits such as Disabled Facility Grants, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, and our work in influencing more councils to follow suit will continue this year. We’ve also had some useful meetings with senior members of the Government and a number of MPs since the campaign launch, including at the 2023 Autumn Party Conferences.  We will continue to press the Government on this issue in 2024. 

Former Leading Naval Nurse Nicole Brown Royal Navy RBL Ambassador, 2020

Published our 2024 Manifesto ahead of the next General Election

In September 2023, we published the 2024 Royal British Legion and PoppyScotland General Election manifesto, Supporting those who Serve us.

The beneficiaries of RBL and PoppyScotland, partners in the Armed Forces community, as well as our members, volunteers and staff were engaged extensively in identifying and agreeing our manifesto asks.

By having our manifesto published prior to party conference season, we were able to spread the word about our asks for better support for our Armed Forces community with politicians who attended the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour party conferences.

As we get closer to the General Election, we will use our manifesto to engage with political parties and candidates, and continue to work with wider sector partners, to ensure the needs of the Armed Forces Community are met effectively by any future Government.

Community Hub, RBL Galanos House_Day - 3

Co-created the Veteran Friendly Framework

The CPR team were key partners in the creation of the Veteran Friendly Framework (VFF) for care homes as a partnership project being run by RBL with Royal Star & Garter, and the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).

The Framework aims to better support the practical, emotional, and social needs of the Armed Forces community in residential care homes — providing care homes with training and resources to assess and improve their offer to the over 25,000 veterans living in care homes across the country.

All Royal British Legion and Royal Star & Garter care homes that have incorporated the VFF, report that the project has helped residents foster friendships and important social interactions because of their service.

Continued to monitor the Covenant Duty one year on

The Armed Forces Covenant Duty was introduced in November 2022 as part of the Armed Forces Act 2021. It creates a new legal duty on specified public bodies “to have due regard to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when exercising certain statutory functions in the fields of healthcare, education and housing.”

In Autumn 2023, the CPR team held conversations with 24 organisations now implementing the new Covenant Duty in England, Scotland, and Wales, reflecting on one year since the Duty was introduced. We published a report of these conversations and the results highlight the success and challenges of the Duty, how well it has been understood, and how it should develop in coming years.

Responded to the Etherton Review

In 2022, RBL submitted an extensive response to the Etherton review, which looked into the experiences of LGBT Veterans during the ban on their service in the UK Armed Forces until 2000, informed by the testimonies of veterans and RBL members.

In 2023, we pushed for the Government’s response to the review. We also began a programme of work to reflect, challenge and change RBL’s support for LGBTQ+ members of the armed forces community. We continue to actively engage to ensure those affected by the ban are aware of Government support that may result from the Etherton Review.

Campaigned for better support for our Armed Forces community within local government

Last year, we launched the RBL Councillor Network, which invites councillors to sign up for information from us about our campaigns, details of upcoming commemorative events and how we can help them with their work for the Armed Forces Community in their area. Since launching we have amassed almost 500 members.

CPR colleagues met with key stakeholders throughout the year to foster a better understanding of how local government can support the Armed Forces community. Notably, we met with newly elected Councillors from the local elections that took place in May, supported two newly created local authorities to kickstart their Armed Forces covenant work, and exhibited at the LGA conference exhibition in Bournemouth which is a great opportunity to connect with local politicians and discuss the support RBL offers and our campaigning work.

Influenced policy through consultations, evidence submissions and engagement

Last year we submitted 31 consultations across a variety of policy areas, including: 

  • Our Wales team responded to the “Wales Schools Appeals Process” and the “Ending Homelessness Outcomes Framework”.

  • Responded to the Older Persons Commissioner consultation in Scotland

  • Submitted responses to a variety of consultations across England on topics such as Disability provisions, Housing support, Council tax reduction schemes

  • Responded to cross-cutting UK-wide consultations on the scope of the Armed Forces Covenant, and future Population & Migration data

We submitted written evidence to the Defence Select Committee inquiries on Women in the Armed Forces community, and Defence Accommodation, and oral evidence on the Armed Forces Covenant, and engaged closely with the Quinquennial Review of armed forces compensation and Veterans’ Welfare Services review.

CPR engage regularly and closely with an extensive network of policymakers and influencers across the sector, including MoD, OVA, Cobseo, FiMT, and DWP, working to shape and secure support for our priorities.

Strengthened insight through research

In August 2023 we announced an 18-month research project in partnership with the University of Chester Westminster Centre for Veterans’ Research, designed to break new ground in evidence about hearing loss among working age veterans in the UK, based on a thorough review of previous research, analysis of primary healthcare data, and a large survey and interviews with veterans experiencing hearing loss.

In October 2023, we began working in partnership with KCMHR in support of a PhD study into health & wellbeing of serving/ex-serving LGBT+ personnel in the UK Armed Forces, addressing another significant gap in knowledge. We continued to influence wider sector research through participation in a range of steering and advisory boards, including for Anglia Ruskin University’s Female Veterans Physical Mental health project.

Following our successful Count Them In campaign, the CPR team worked throughout 2023 to analyse and present data about the Armed Forces Community released from Census 2021 in England & Wales.

We have used Census data alongside other robust national sources of information, and internal beneficiary data, to produce a comprehensive overview of needs of the armed forces community, and provision and policy currently in place to meet these needs. As well as providing the most up-to-date overarching view of needs of our community available, this work has stimulated fresh focus on how our sector can improve and maximise use of data to inform future planning and policy.

CabSec veterans AH - Impact Report
Keith Brown MSP, with Austin Hardie, Director of Poppyscotland and veterans Dave & Jock

Our Engagement in Scotland

  • We held a three-day exhibition in the Scottish Parliament to promote the Paper Poppy, our campaigning, welfare support and fundraising work. We spoke with 44 MSPs, had a photo call for MSPs on the Chamber steps and gained cross-party support for our efforts.

  • Promoted the Scottish Poppy Appeal by hosting a parliamentary reception in Holyrood and Westminster. More MSPs than ever before attended our Holyrood reception. Our Westminster reception was hosted by the Secretary of State for Scotland and sparked engagement with the Under Secretary of State who attended Edinburgh City Poppy Day as a result.

  • Poppyscotland held a comedy fringe event for stakeholders to promote the work of RBLs ‘Recovery Through Comedy’ programme, which was attended by four of our key political stakeholders.

  • Engaged with our political stakeholders throughout the Poppy Appeal and Remembrance-tide, meeting with six senior Scottish politicians and hosting a visit at the Edinburgh City Poppy Appeal for the Under Secretary of State for Scotland.

Keith Brown MSP, with Austin Hardie, Director of Poppyscotland and veterans Dave & Jock
Welsh Section Meeting - RBL members
Senedd Cross Party Group members at the RBL Contact Centre

Our Engagement in Wales

Over the last 12 months, CPR has had great engagement in Wales to ensure better visibility of our Armed Forces community in Welsh Government.  Notably, we:

  • Organised a visit to RBL’s support call centre for the Welsh Parliament’s  Cross-Party Group on Armed Forces.

  • Established and maintained relationships with the Welsh Government’s Armed Forces Expert Group and Armed Forces Liaison Officers, both allowing us to connect directly with senior members of the Welsh Government, Local Authorities and Armed Force community in Wales.

  • Attended regular Armed Forces Covenant meetings across Wales where we discussed the services we provide and our campaigning work.

  • Hosted the Welsh Veterans Commissioner and Hannah Blythyn MS during the National Services 60 event at the National Memorial Arboretum.

  • Worked with other organisations and external partners such as SSAFA and Woodys Lodge to ensure that the needs of the ex-Service community are heard.

Senedd Cross Party Group members at the RBL Contact Centre

Our Engagement in Northern Ireland

  • We worked closely with the Veterans’ Commissioner, Danny Kinahan, and the NI Veterans Commissioner's Office (NIVCO), including a meeting with him and his team in the Belfast RBL Office.

  • Continued to work with key stakeholders to better understand the armed forces community and their needs in Northern Ireland.

  • Built contacts with those conducting research and delivering services in NI to help inform our Campaigns, Policy and Research work.


RBL Manifest cover - Poppy Appeal

Thank You

We are only able to make an impact because of the support of our campaigners, volunteers, fundraisers, members and partners who drive our campaigning efforts by engaging with us and promoting our campaigns in their community. Thank you for another year of support.

Looking Forward

2024 will be another busy year for CPR team. We will continue to use new data from Census and Veteran’s Survey releases, engage with the Covenant Duty, the government’s response to the Etherton review and other reviews of services, and oversee the implementation of the VFF in care homes.

We will also continue to campaign for better support for our Armed Forces community. Our top priorities outlined in our manifesto will frame much of our work leading up to the next General Election and beyond, we hope that you will join us to Support those who Serve Us and sign up to our Campaigner Community here. You can also email the team directly at [email protected]. If you are a Councillor and would like to get in touch about supporting our campaigns in your area, please email [email protected]

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