Royal British Legion social enterprise secures multi-million pound Network Rail contract
UK Fundraising, by Howard Lake
Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC), a social enterprise in Aylesford, Kent, has won a multi-million pound contract with Network Rail, the UK’s largest railway owner.
The company, the manufacturing division of Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI), employs British veterans and people with disabilities. It will now become the sole signage provider for Network Rail, which owns the majority of the British rail network.
BBMC has provided signs for the rail company for more than 25 years. It employs 120 people, more than 70% of whom are ex-service personnel, or have a physical or mental disability. Sixteen people product up to 40,000 signs of varying sizes each year.
Just weeks before the contract was announced, BBMC had achieved a £5m annual turnover for the first time.
Director of BBMC, Geoff Streetley, said it is important to recognise the benefits in purchasing from social enterprises.
He said: “As we are solely a not-for-profit enterprise, any surplus we make is immediately reinvested back into the company to give ex-service personnel and people with disabilities the opportunity to find sustained and rewarding employment – whether that is directly through BBMC or through the various employment services we offer at RBLI.
“We are appreciative of Network Rail for recognising the knowledge, technical ability and the hard-working attitude of a commercially successful group of people who can be too often pushed aside in the world of work.”
Former Royal Engineer Tim Brown, who was diagnosed with PTSD after serving the Armed Forces for 23 years, joined BBMC as a team leader in 2016. He said: “I do think there are people here who may find it difficult to sustain a mainstream job, outside of RBLI. Here, disabilities are catered for and people are cared for. Without them I would be finding it difficult myself to find a job that I could hold down. It’s an amazing place to work because everybody looks after each other and cares about each other, from the very top to the bottom.”
About Royal British Legion Industries
Established in 1919, Royal British Legion Industries is an independent national charity aiming to provide employment, training and support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependents; as well as those with a disability or health condition and those who have been long term unemployed.
As well as BBMC, the charity (which is separate to the Royal British Legion but has a shared ethos) operates:
• RBLI Employment – providing support to those who are long-term unemployed or have disabilities or health conditions. During 2015/16, more than 2000 people were supported into work, while more than 5,000 disabled people have been provided with workplace assessments.
• RBLI Living – offering accommodation, welfare support and convalescent care to more than 300 people in the RBLI village in Kent, providing independent living in a safe and homely environment.