A recruitment agency set up by a former soldier to help ex-military personnel back into work has won gold in a prestigious Ministry of Defence (MoD) awards scheme.
OppO Recruitment Ltd scooped the top accolade as part of the MoD’s Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS). It is the highest badge of honour an employer can receive for supporting those who serve, veterans, and their families.
OppO Recruitment Ltd was set up by Kayam Iqbal, 39, in 2013 after overcoming his own struggles back into civilian life. He was medically discharged for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following 11 years in the Army, during which he completed tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr Iqbal said:
“I am grateful to the MoD for recognising the work that OppO and myself have been doing for many years in supporting my former military colleagues transition back into civilian life.
“It has been important for me to ensure that we are not seen as a ‘typical recruitment agency’ and for all those companies who have provided us with the opportunity to prove this, I personally thank you as this award would not have been possible without their support.
“OppO Recruitment is proud to be one of UK’s leaders within recruitment for ex-military personnel. I have spent many years serving my country and I will always continue to do so.”
OppO Recruitment Ltd employs eight people at its Uxbridge HQ, four of which have served or continue to serve in the Armed Forces.
The company is an active advocate of the Armed Forces to Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic (BAME) communities. The team works to break down barriers with communities that have preconceptions of military service.
In 2014 Kayam also founded The OppO Foundation, a charity dedicated to offering enhanced support to veterans, their spouses and families on their return to civilian life.
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said:
“These awards recognise the outstanding support for our armed forces from employers across Britain and I would like to thank and congratulate each and every one.
“Regardless of size, location or sector, employing ex-forces personnel is good for business and this year we have doubled the number of awards in recognition of the fantastic support they give.”
The ERS scheme was launched in 2014 by the then Prime Minister David Cameron to recognise employer support for the wider principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.
The scheme encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employers that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support for Defence and the Armed Forces community.
This includes Reserves, Service leavers, Armed Forces Veterans, the wounded, injured, sick, Cadets, military spouses or partners and their families.
The ERS scheme continues to grow year on year and this year 100 employers have received an ERS Gold Award.
Employers have won awards for initiatives such as employing veterans, supporting individuals transitioning out of the armed forces into a new career and providing flexibility for Reservists. Included are 23 Local Authorities, 13 NHS Hospitals and Trusts and 29 SMEs.
The 100 winners have been recognised for their long-term commitment to the Armed Forces, with companies from the public and private sector achieving the top grade.
Each has signed the Armed Forces Covenant, and where possible, engages with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) to promote the recruitment of service leavers, as well as honouring individual pledges of support.
The awards will be handed out on Tuesday, November 12, at the National Army Museum in London.