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Supporting individuals to reach their full potential

Supporting individuals to reach their full potential


03 Aug, 2021

A charity that has spent almost 80 years supporting veterans to adapt to and succeed in civilian life has embraced post-Covid lockdown challenges by looking to the future and recruiting key new people into top managerial roles …

Durham-based Finchale Group provides life-changing support, training opportunities and routes to employment. The charity, which started life in 1943 as a rehabilitation and resettlement centre for disabled wartime Service personnel, continues to help ex-military personnel and veterans but has expanded and diversified to deliver high-quality employability and vocational training programmes for learners of all ages.

It’s been a busy period of change and adaptation for the charity following its move to its new location, Richard Annand VC House, in 2019. The newly built HQ contains accessible classrooms and meeting rooms, and nearby there’s a purpose-built construction skills academy. 

Neil Johnson, who has taken the reins as interim CEO, with a proven track record in people services sectors such as employability, educational skills and adult social care, says: ‘My immediate aim is to couple robust governance with people development to deliver excellent results for our learners, Armed Forces community and our commissioners. It’s important to invest in our people and create the right culture where they can thrive and that’s why we have brought in new trustees and chair.’

That new chair is Jason Knights, managing director of Blue Kangaroo Design, a design agency that works specifically with entertainment character licensing and toy industry clients all over the world, including big names like Disney, Universal Studios, Mattel, Tomy and Warner Bros. His business acumen won him a Board of Trade Award and he was made a Northern Powerhouse Export Champion.

‘I’m ex-Forces myself,’ says Jason, ‘and I know that the Finchale Group’s history is steeped in helping veterans to adapt and succeed in civilian life. I’m keen to use my contacts to further that relationship. We’re very lucky to have a great team here and facilities second to none, including our new construction academy from where we will launch our apprenticeship scheme later this year.’

Neil agrees: ‘Our strength is our people. Many of them have been through our programmes as ex-Forces personnel and we’ve made a demonstrable difference in their lives. Their passion is tangible, and they are determined to help other people to succeed as they have done. I am very proud to lead the team at Finchale. We have an exciting future ahead, delivering our mission in making a positive difference in people’s lives.’

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Main image: Jason Knights (left) and Neil Johnson at Finchale’s Durham HQ (source: dwmedia)