Military veterans get second chance to serve Queen and country with SSGC

Hundreds of military veterans have answered a different call to the front line as part of the UK’s battle with Coronavirus.

Teams of former armed forces personnel are once again in the line of duty by playing a pivotal part in the Government’s programme to provide COVID-19 tests at drive-through centres across the country.

We have mobilised 700 thoroughly-vetted security guards and marshals in a matter of weeks to help marshal the testing centres as a supplier to both Serco and Sodexo, which are managing a number of centres on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

We’re supplying staff to 28 testing centres across the country.

Our managing director David Stubbs, himself a former military police officer, is behind the drive to provide veterans with a second chance to serve their country, after signing the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC), an undertaking to support the welfare and wellbeing of uniformed personnel who have served their country.

Our managing director, David Stubbs with some of the veterans working with SSGC

Stepping up

Kate Davies, Director of Health and Justice and Armed Forces, said: “It’s fantastic that veterans are stepping up to support the country once again in the fight against COVID-19.

“We at NHS England and NHS Improvement are hugely grateful to them for providing their expertise and skillset at testing centres across England in this time of need.”

One of those veterans is James Parker, 31, (pictured below) who enjoyed a distinguished seven-year career as a military policeman before deciding to spend more time with his young family and training as a self-employed enforcement agent last year.

With his make-up artist partner also turning self-employed and enjoying a burgeoning business in 2019, the couple found that when the UK went into lockdown in March, work suddenly dried up for them both.  

James, from Sheffield, said: “I had a great career as a military policeman. I went into it with just GCSEs and left with a degree and experience of working abroad, having made great friends and being part of a fantastic community.

“I was stationed in Germany before moving to Telford but I made the decision to leave the forces in February 2019 when my partner became pregnant with our second child.

“I trained in close protection and took a job as a self-employed enforcement agent. When the pandemic struck my work dried up and as both my partner and myself are self-employed, we found ourselves struggling financially.  

“You sign up to the Armed Forces to protect Queen and country and by helping at these NHS testing centres, we’re now helping Queen and country in another way.”

James Parker

“You sign up to the Armed Forces to protect Queen and country and by helping at these NHS testing centres, we’re now helping Queen and country in another way.”

Yorkshire Regiment support

As well as its commitment to the AFC, SSGC is also working closely with the Yorkshire Regiment Association to help recruit for veterans to work at the testing centres.

Major Pat Ralph, chairman of the Yorkshire Regiment Association, said: “Our call to arms went out across the three Yorkshire regiments - The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire, The Green Howards and the Duke of Wellington’s, veteran NHS fundraiser Col Sir Tom Moore’s former regiment.  

“The response was overwhelming. For our veterans, this is an opportunity to give something back to their communities, to get involved with like-minded people and, for many, new qualifications are also in the offing.”

Jane Farrell, head of security, Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “Like SSGC, we too are a signatory to the Armed Forces covenant and we are thrilled that through our partnership with them we are able to provide such a unique employment opportunity for so many veterans, and one which sees them play a critical role in the national effort to fight Covid-19 at the drive through testing centres which we are managing.”  

Jonathan Brasher OBE, operations director for the Serco-managed testing centres, said: “We are delighted this has resulted in so many veterans working at the centres and, once again, making a valuable effort to the national effort, this time to tackle Covid-19.”

Omar Barrow

Serious committment

David Stubbs added: “The business signed up to the AFC and we take that commitment very seriously.

“As a result, we have been able to use our automated vetting capability, which allows the rapid scaling of personnel, to place more than 700 security guards and marshals across the country – many of whom are distinguished military veterans.

“It’s hugely important to us to support veterans, many of whom have lost jobs or positions they have worked hard to achieve since leaving the forces.

“They are doing a truly excellent job as part of this huge national effort and we’re delighted to be able to provide such trusted and experienced personnel.”