Several of the OA’s volunteers met Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, during a recent training session in London.
The Minister was visiting a number of military charities and spoke to several Honorary Representatives (Hon Reps), the OA’s network of key volunteers that provide the crucial link between head office and beneficiaries. The Minister learned how they enable the Benevolence Team to assess applicants’ needs. Nigel Hare, OA Head of Benevolence, also discussed with the Minister the Benevolence Team’s broader remit and work.
In addition to the Minister’s visit, the training session included an update from Nigel about the Benevolence Team’s current projects, important research that is shaping the strategy for the Department, industry news and future plans. The Benevolence Team’s recent achievements include:
- Approving more than £1 million in grants over the last year
- Providing 989 beneficiaries with information and guidance
- Reaching more than 40,000 people, 2,000 likes and 100 shares on Facebook for the four team case studies.
The Hon Reps received some training on data protection and were informed about the OA’s new data security procedures, so they feel confident about how to handle sensitive information. Hon Reps gather applicants’ personal information, including financial statements and medical history, to make a fair assessment of their needs. In addition, digital technology is changing how information is shared and accessed.
In the afternoon Rose Atkinson, one of the four OA Benevolence Secretaries, took part in a Q & A discussion about her work. Rose spoke about the Benevolence Team, their roles and how they work together. She also answered Hon Reps’ questions on technical aspects of the team’s processes.
The final session covered the Hon Rep Community, a new online portal where Hon Reps will be able to access and download documents, read the latest industry news and have live discussions. The portal will be launched later this year, and is secure, easy to use and makes the assessment process easier.
Nigel said: “It’s always great to meet our Hon Reps face-to-face. They are vital to the Benevolence Team’s success and I find their feedback invaluable. I’m pleased the Minister could speak to them about their role, and I hope they found the training useful.”
The Hon Reps are crucial to the OA. Not only are they able to visit potential beneficiaries to help assess their needs, they are able to work alongside our permanent staff to seek the best possible outcomes.