Barking & Dagenham College became the first college in London to sign the Armed Forces Covenant on Thursday November 15.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
The covenant focusses on helping members of the armed forces community have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen. This support is provided in a number of areas including education and starting a new career. 2500 businesses have signed the covenant since it was launched in 2011.
Principal & CEO Yvonne Kelly and the College’s Sales Director for Apprenticeships, John Lewis, a former Royal Engineer, attended an event at Horse Guards where Yvonne signed the covenant.
Signing up to the Covenant was John’s suggestion as he has special insight due to the fact that he served for 14 years in the Royal Engineers, British Army, he explains: “It was a job I joined as a boy soldier and one that took me all over the world, taught me many life skills and where I acquired my teaching experience as an instructor for new recruits at the Royal School of Military Engineering. Throughout my career I have been passionate
about sharing my experiences and knowledge with young people.”
John then worked in a couple of education-related roles including one for a charitable organisation as an instructor delivering lessons to young people in schools, ensuring they gained relevant and meaningful qualifications. Within a short space of time John was promoted to Team Leader and then to Regional Director for the South East.
A later role for a different organisation included building relationships with local authorities, schools and commissioners to promote education services which helped the most vulnerable, disadvantaged young people.
In 2017, John became the Sales Director for Barking and Dagenham College. He says: “I work closely with local authorities, employers and commissioners in order to increase the number of people accessing apprenticeships.
The signing took place at an HE/FE Workshop which was organised by the London District LONDIST (the name given by the British Army to the area of operations encompassing the Greater London area) to share stories and best practise relating to employing veterans, service leavers and reservists. John spoke to the delegates on the topic of a veteran’s view of Barking and Dagenham College as an employee.