The Forces Employment Charity (FEC) was formed from two of the UK’s largest and most respected military charities; RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity (RFEA), founded in 1885, and the Officers’ Association (OA) in 1920, which came together in May 2022.
Originally called The National Association for Employment of Reserve and Discharged Soldiers RFEA became known as the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) in 1967. From its very beginning, it emphasised the need to prepare Armed Forces personnel for civilian employment while still in Armed Forces – an ethos and goal upheld to this day.
Meanwhile, the OA was founded by Earl Haig, Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty and Air Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard with the aim of going “to the root of the problem and solve it, not by continual payments to men who are out of work but by finding work for them”.
Earl Haig asked government, local authorities and private employers for their “active assistance to open the gates of useful employment to these men to whose past exertions we owe our liberties if not our lives”, assisting 24,221 cases in 1921.
In 1935, the importance of RFEA’s work was recognised by the Ministry of Labour which developed a scheme to secure the greatest amount of employment possible for ex-Regulars.
The aftermath of World War II put increasing demand on both charities, with a new generation of those deserving support on return to civilian life.
By 1964, RFEA occupied 48 branches throughout the country, receiving 14,716 registrations and placing 11,922 into jobs.