Update from Craig Jones (Executive Chair) and Caroline Paige (Chief Executive)

We hope that 2024 has got off to a good start and proves to be a happy and successful year for you. The past few weeks have enabled our team to recharge their batteries a little though our work never rests and we have been busy with our core work as well as reviewing 2023, making sure we review our performance and embed our learning. 2023 was a successful year but one that left much still to do.

​Ensuring that meaningful financial compensation is made to LGBT+ Veterans and those who lost careers because they were perceived to be LGBT+ is our principle aim and lies at the core of our campaign. At times there will seem to be quiet periods, rest assured that every day is a campaign day and we are working very hard to spread our influence on this issue (we are in Westminster this week for meetings). In 2024, we will continue to use the Newsletters and ‘Town Hall’ gatherings to keep you informed.

​With your help FWP ensured that the Government will honour its commitment to a full debate in Parliament. No date has yet been set and Ministers have asked for more time to develop the financial award. We met with the Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families the day after he delivered the Government’s Response to the Etherton Report. The Government’s outlook is that ‘if the debate happens too early, they will not be able to provide assured answers and that more time is needed to assess the size of this community and the range of impacts from the ban, such that they can design the most suitable scheme possible’. The impression given was that any debate would therefore be later in the summer. We have said in the strongest terms that is not acceptable and that the MOD must properly resource this work such that Parliament can debate the Government’s plans before Easter. We are not unsympathetic to the challenges that compensation presents for Ministers however our greatest concern is the welfare of our veterans and more effort must be made. You have already waited far too long.

One of the measures the MOD is using to help develop the financial reparations scheme, is the registration of interest in the ‘Financial Award’, through the Reparations Application Form. We would strongly encourage you to use this where applicable, if you haven’t already (and the sooner the better). This will help MOD gauge the size of the community affected and enables them to check for service records of those applying, it gives insight into the means of dismissal, disposal or leaving. Not all that detail will be clear, due to inaccurate, missing, destroyed, changed or misleading records, but it will flag up those discrepancies, and that is the kind of information they will need to design a scheme that can deliver compensation to you. We will talk through this more in our next Town Hall on Tuesday 6th February.

We are also pursuing those recommendations that were directed at other organisations besides the MOD, such as the NHS, veteran supporting organisations and devolved parliaments. These reparations are important to mental and physical health and wellbeing through the delivery of support services and welcoming environments. Elements of this are delivered through our Pride in Veterans Standard and on our 1st PiVS anniversary we were delighted to have received our 153rd sign up.

Over a month has gone since the Government’s response to the Etherton Report and MODs reparations Front Door opened, and we hope those of you who expressed interest in the reparations have applied or registered as you wish, if not, you can find details on our website  and you can apply or register here Apply for restorative measures – GOV.UK. We understand there has been a good level of application so far and we’d be interested in your feedback on the website and application process. The MOD Reparations team tell us they have received applications with incomplete or corrupted email addresses and/or partial postal addresses, so they have no means to respond or connect with the applicant. When completing the form, please double-check these details are correct and complete, including postcode, before submitting it. If you have already submitted your form but haven’t had a response, get in touch with the team. If you wish to let us know we can pass that on too, so they can check against their list.

This month the MOD has also announced the application to tender for the LGBT+ Veterans Memorial (Recommendation 17), due to be placed at the National Arboretum in 2025. We are very excited about this and are working with a number of partners to help develop this and ensure the widest possible community involvement. It is in its very early stages, but we will keep you informed of any progress and opportunities as soon as they become known. Our first aim will be to ensure full community involvement.

​We would be remiss if we did not mention the impact that Mr Bates Vs The Post Office is having upon the public perception of ‘compensation’. Perhaps the greatest impact has been that the Post Office workers have been universally viewed as being deserving. We should be buoyed up by this and FWP is working behind the scenes to ensure that the full force of the ‘gay ban’ will be known in 2024. The solidarity of the Post Office Worker is striking and has helped them succeed, but it has taken far too long. Please keep close to us and push the campaign forward when you can. The scale of what we achieve and the pace in part depends upon our ability to command this battle space! Whilst we may often stand in the vanguard, hundreds of you have helped us win through the past year. Keep going, let’s push this over the line together. In the history of LGBT+ social change, there have been many who have regretted not doing the right thing. For those who have influence over the future, this is the right time to get on the right side of history.

In the coming weeks Craig will complete 18 months of work with the core trustee team, to develop the range of skills and experience in our Board of Trustees. Over the last year 6 new Trustees have joined us in an open recruitment and we now have 11 amazing Trustees. The culmination of this important project will be to return FWP to Non-Executive leadership and this month we advertised for the role of Chair of our Board of Trustees. We are looking for an outstanding leader to lead our Board of Trustees as it guides and supports the Executive to win through in 2024. Applications closes on 28th January and details are available at fwp-chair-recruitment-january-2024/

Finally, may we both say a huge thank you for all the lovely messages we have received in recent weeks following (Craig) being named on The Big Issue’s 100 Changemakers of 2024 List, following his story being told in the June Issue last year, an amazing honour! And for (Caroline) after receiving an MBE in the King’s New Years Honours List, for 25 years of Service to Serving Personnel and Veterans. They were both incredible surprises to start 2024 with and give us the opportunity to say a huge thank you to all who have helped us on those journeys, and they inspire us even more in our calling to help others live better lives.  Thank you all.

Best wishes,

Caroline and Craig


You can read the full January 2024 Newsletter HERE.

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