3 September 2018
Today marks RBLI's 99th birthday
Royal British Legion Industries started life as Industrial Settlements (Incorporated) , beginning on September 3rd, 1919 after the purchasing of Preston Hall from the Leeds Fireclay Company for £30,000. This was the very foundation of our progress over the past 99 years.
Our ethos of caring for the military community began here, with the care of First World War soldiers returning from the conflict with TB. Although no longer in our ownership following its acquisition by the NHS at a time of severe crisis, almost 100 years later, Preston Hall remains at the heart of our Aylesford village which now accommodates more than three hundred people – the vast majority of whom are part of the ex-forces community.
Since these early days we have seen the mass expansion of the village, enabling us to cater to the large number of individuals and their families that we do now. This includes Gavin Astor House, our high-dependency nursing and respite home, which offers round-the-clock bespoke care packages to residents with a range of; as well as Mountbatten Pavilion, which provides crucial accommodation to ex-service personnel with severe immediate need also added to the breadth of services we could make available.
However, following the turn of the millennium, we built upon this base and in 2011, our transformative employment support programme for ex-servicemen and woman was launched nationally – with the programme redesigned for the spouses of serving personnel, LifeWorks Families, just two years later.
Since its establishment, the LifeWorks team has seen more than 1000 people pass through the programme with astonishing success. More than 83% of participants find employment, training or volunteering within just a year of the course – which is particularly impressive when considering that almost 80% have a physical or mental disability.
We are immensely proud to say that over the past 99 years we have vastly grown our services – both in their scope, range of delivery and the very people we aim to help. As well as the Armed Forces Community, we now also support people with disabilities nationally, and we locally help more who are struggling to find work.
Our charity’s development is not only due to the various members of the RBLI team who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of our beneficiaries every day, but also the support - both financially and emotionally – from our friends in the military charity community and across the public and private sectors.
Thousands who have benefitted from our services, have gone on to overcome significant challenges and move towards rewarding employment and greater independence. They may well have struggled to do so without the help we have been able to provide.
And this near century of successes, we are pleased to say, has established a strong footing for further evolution of RBLI. In our centenary year in 2019, we plan to further expand our accommodation services, creating accommodation with full wrap-around welfare support for 100 more veterans and their families.