Recognising the Armed Forces in our homes and in our teams

Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 27 June​ is the perfect chance to show our support at Sovereign for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community - from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans, reservists and cadets. 

As a housing association with nearly 60,000 homes, Sovereign’s geography across the south of England overlaps with many military sites across the south of England.

Under the Armed Forces Covenant, applicants don't have to have a family connection to choose to settle in a specific area, meaning that many military personnel stay where they were last based, as they’ve got children in school or they've found employment locally.

Over the past five years, 554 veterans and reservists have moved into our homes, with the most popular locations being the Vale of White Horse, Basingstoke and Deane and West Berkshire.

We’ve also got 14 veterans at Sovereign, former armed forces personnel who've worked in careers as varied as deep sea bomb disposal, counter terrorism, national intelligence, electronic warfare and as a Royal Marine Commando. Others have held positions in communications, as an arms/explosive search dog handler and even as a combat chef.

Those who’ve served in the military are often well-placed to bring a unique perspective to the workplace, thanks to extensive travel, team-working and people management.

Susie Griffin, Head of Workplace Management, served as a captain in The Royal Army Educational Corps (RAEC), a corps of the British Army tasked with educating and instructing personnel in a diverse range of skills.

Susie highlighted that stress management was one of many talents she honed in the military, saying: “Nothing is more stressful than being shot at – other than been shot at whilst in a helicopter!”

Chris Bairstow, now an electrical manager for Sovereign, is a former bomb disposal clearance diver. He said: “Being in the Navy gave me the time management and problem solving and people management skills I needed to come back to electrical management after 15 years away.

“After the constant change that comes with travelling the world I was able to move easily into different roles in the working world, assessing the challenges and adapting each role to my own style.

“In my job as bomb disposal diver if I didn’t do the job properly someone might die. That  accountability was on my shoulders. In electrical management, if we don’t do our jobs properly, lives could be at stake. I take that responsibility very seriously and live the Sovereign value of accountability.”

An annual Reserves Day – on 24 June - also celebrates the essential contribution that reservists make to the armed forces. Sovereign has an excellent 'Reserves Policy' that allows employees extra time off for annual military training and also time off should a team member be called up for deployment.

Gareth Salmon, HR Business Partner, said: “At Sovereign we welcome applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and we are always receptive to applications from veterans and their families, as we recognise the broad range of skills they can bring.”