The Industry and Parliament Trust took a cross-party group of MPs, including Kevan, to The Poppy Factory in Richmond, Surrey on 6 November.

Since 1922, The Poppy Factory (formerly the Disabled Society) has employed wounded, injured and sick ex-service personnel in its factory, and in recent years has expanded its work to facilitate employment of wounded, injured and sick ex-service men and women throughout the UK. The Richmond Factory itself employs 47 members of staff, who are responsible for the manufacture of poppies, wreaths and Remembrance crosses in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

The event was an opportunity for parliamentarians to learn about the Factory’s history, try their hand at making their own poppies and wreaths and meet with employees at The Poppy Factory. The visit is part of the IPT’s Industry Visits which involve one-day, hands-on tours for parliamentarians to some of the UK’s leading and most innovative industry sites and provide a unique snapshot into the various sectors that make up our economy .

The Poppy Factory today offers a comprehensive career support package to help wounded, injured and sick ex-service men and women find and sustain civilian employment. It sources appropriate opportunities for work and seeks to help remove the barriers which might prevent ex-service men and women from easily accessing the civilian workplace.

Since the expansion of the programme in 2010, The Poppy Factory has supported 206 clients into work and is having a wider impact. The Poppy Factory’s current priority is to help 500 wounded, injured and sick ex-Service men and women into work by 2015.

Melanie Waters, CEO, The Poppy Factory said, “Ex-Service men and women have a fantastic work ethic, are disciplined, trustworthy and used to performing within a team. Many have qualifications that are invaluable for companies today. However, an injury or delayed illness can shatter their lives. We want to help them regain their self-respect and confidence in order to earn a living, so that they can feel a valuable member of society again”

Nick Maher, CEO, The Industry and Parliament Trust said, “The Industry and Parliament Trust feel privileged to be involved with this visit. The work of The Poppy Factory is incredibly valuable to disenfranchised ex-servicemen and women; we are delighted to be able to offer parliamentarians the opportunity to visit this facility.”