We hope you all had a good Bank Holiday weekend over Easter and are looking forward to an amazing Coronation Weekend. It has been a busy 4 weeks, ramping up our work in Westminster and in the devolved parliaments in the run-up to the launch of the LGBT+ Veterans Independent Review Report. In the coming weeks FWP will be talking to the All-Party Parliamentary Groups, Ministers, Parliamentarians, and Allies about why the Review must achieve fairness and justice for our amazing LGBT+ veterans – and our key message is that we must get this right ‘once and for all’.
Your moment to get involved, if you can, has arrived and for our next Town Hall on Monday 17th April we will be hosting Anna Cardoso, Stonewall’s Senior Parliamentary Officer, who will talk about how you can seek the support of your MP. Anna has extensive experience lobbying and communicating with politicians and policymakers in the UK and the U.S. on a wide range of campaigns and issues. Please see the notice below for more details on how to join this Town Hall Special Brief. The briefing will be recorded and a link will be sent out on Tuesday for those unable to attend (the Q and A will not be recorded to protect the privacy of attendees – but if you have any follow-up questions – we’re here!
We met with Lord Etherton and the team on 4th April for the final time ahead of the Report Launch on 8th June. Lord Etherton saw FWP at the very beginning of taking up the Chair of the LGBT Veterans’ Independent Review, and he informed us we were also the last meeting in his diary before the Report and Recommendations were published. It was a very positive meeting but we must remember that he is making recommendations to the Government and our role now is to make sure that every recommendation does justice to this community and is agreed upon by the Government.
The list for attending the Launch event has now closed, and anyone who is selected by the Independent Review will receive a formal invite and further details from them by email. We asked if the event could be live-streamed for anyone who wishes to join online, and the IR team agreed this was possible. Details will be announced nearer the time, so please watch for future notices. We will also advise how you may access a digital copy of the report and its recommendations too.
Over the past two weeks, FWP’s Trustees have responded to the many candidates who kindly stepped forward to join our Board of Trustees, there were some very difficult choices to make about an outstanding range of people. In the next few weeks, the Executive Chair will announce the names of the 6 successful candidates, who offer incredibly diverse skills, backgrounds and experience as our charity leaps beyond being a ‘start-up’ and towards becoming a permanent and top-performing small military charity. We very much look forward to introducing our new trustees will be introduced over the coming weeks as we complete onboarding.
Later in the summer as Craig completes his Board development work with the Trustees, FWP will return to having a Non-Executive Chair. More details of that opportunity will appear in these pages in July/August, however, if you are interested and wish to know more please ask Craig for an informal discussion.
Last month we also supported 28 veterans on our FWP WW1 Battlefields Tour, gratefully funded by an Office of Veterans Affairs in a scheme managed by the AFCFT. The trip was expertly guided by Legers and we were joined by their brilliant historian Mark. Thankfully, neither UK train strikes nor the strikes in France derailed the trip and, in-between travelling days, the group spent four remarkable and thought-provoking days visiting WW1 cemeteries, memorials and museums around Ypres, Arras, Loos and ending on the Somme, paying respects and laying wreaths on 7 occasions. The first day’s visits included laying a wreath during the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, and the tour’s final visit ended at Thiepval, with a deeply emotional service led by our Padre, Jim Horton (thanks Bish!). There will be a separate article with pictures to follow. You will at some point get to hear from the veterans who went on this tour, some of whom were anxious and very nearly withdrew, but all were glad they didn’t. We want you to join us, and we will help where we can to give as many of you as possible an opportunity to join in. If you are thinking about signing up for an event or trip, but feel unsure, please drop us a line and we will do everything we can to make being part of FWP fun, relaxing and enjoyable – let’s leave no one behind!!
At the end of March, on Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), we celebrated our transgender and non-binary veterans, serving personnel and family members, and spoke at several events across the UK. These were important opportunities to raise awareness of our trans military family and the challenges this part of our community faces today. Every one of us has a part to play in being visible allies and advocates. Many of the organisations we spoke at have LGBTQ+ Employer Network Groups and Veterans Network Groups, and more and more are beginning to join their networks up for these events.
Please join our next Town Hall (‘Writing to Your MP’) on Monday 17TH April if you can, or watch it on ‘catch up’ Details are included below and it’s not too late to sign up, please do, and we hope to see you there.
Caroline and Craig