RFCA chairman David Rhodes gives his overview of 2020/21 and outlines some of the challenges overcome and the successes achieved during an unprecedented year.
Welcome to our 2021 annual report. I hope that you will find it interesting and informative. This year’s report reviews both the national and regional picture, as well as providing some inspiring personal stories to exemplify the work we do.
The last year has been one like no other. Almost no part of our work has not been significantly affected by the national Covid restrictions, and I am extremely proud of the way our staff have met the unique challenges and embraced new solutions and new ways of working.
The national picture over the past year has been marked by the myriad of reviews conducted into defence generally and the associations specifically. The Integrated Review, its associated Command Paper, and the recent Reserve Forces 2030 review sees an expanding role for reserves, a greater focus on our youth organisations, and additional tasks for the associations. More specifically for us, the Estates Review, if taken up by the MoD, could represent the largest investment in the volunteer estate for many years, and the Tailored Review, which is about to commence in its implementation, cements the associations as part of the MoD landscape for many years to come, albeit under a new legal structure.
These are exciting times to be involved in the work of our reserves and cadets, and I am confident that here in Yorkshire and the Humber, we are up to the challenge.
Reserves and cadets
Regionally, our reserves surpassed themselves in the past year, and their support to the Covid response has been widely admired and is likely to prove to be a catalyst for reserves as the force of choice for future mainland MACA tasks. Our cadets had a tougher time of it, with most face-to-face training cancelled throughout the year, but even here we have seen both adult volunteers and cadets rise to the challenge and continue to train, albeit virtually. The number of cadets restarting training recently is remarkable and is a testament to their commitment and to the hard work of the adult volunteers.
Delivering our outputs
The associations outputs have continued to be delivered throughout the pandemic, with many new and novel working methods adopted, some of which I am sure will endure. We kept the estate up and running throughout and were able to complete almost all of our planned capital and improvement projects. Our finances are sound and prudent management means we are set well for the coming year.
Continued to engage
We were also one of only a few RFCAs which continued with our engagement activities, hosting all four Lord-Lieutenant Award ceremonies virtually, bestowing more Gold and Silver Employer Recognition Scheme awards and achieving more Armed Forces Covenant signings this year than in any other. I know you will join me in thanking our dedicated staff for their contributions to this success.
July sees a welcome return to face-to-face activities for the Association, and I look forward to engaging fully once again with members in championing the cause of our reserves and cadets across Yorkshire and the Humber.
Virtutis Fortuna Comes
A summary of national developments that took place during the year that will influence the future direction of the RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber.
The Integrated Defence Review
Published in March 2021, the Integrated Defence Review represented the most significant reconfiguration of UK defence for a generation. While not explicit on the role of reserves, reserve numbers are likely to remain similar while their role may expand.
Reserve Forces 2030
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced a new review that seeks to examine how best its reserve forces could contribute to defence. The review reported in May 2021 and envisaged an expanded role for reserves.
During the year, the RFCA shared detailed information about the condition, use and running costs of each of its buildings with an Army-led panel reviewing the use of the reserve and cadet estate nationally.
An implementation strategy for the Tailored Review into the future of RFCAs was under development during the year, though little change was seen in the day to day operations of individual RFCAs.
Physical Employment Standards
Reserves across the region were training to meet the New Physical Employment Standards whose roll out across all personnel continued in the year for all forces. Pictured above are reserves from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment undertaking the new-style test.
We championed our cadets across the region
Our role was to promote the cadet experience for all three forces throughout Yorkshire and the Humber.
- Despite a dip in cadet numbers across all community cadet units, total cadet numbers increased due to a growth in cadet numbers in the school-based Combined Cadet Force.
- Many cadets managed to attain qualifications, including Duke of Edinburgh Awards, despite Covid restrictions.
We supported units to recruit adult volunteers
Our role was to support units to recruit new adult volunteers
- Recruitment and retention of adult volunteers was a focus for forces during the year.
- Humberside and South Yorkshire reported 100 expressions of interest from people wanting to volunteer.
- The Sea Cadets had the highest proportion of female volunteers and the lowest cadet to volunteer ratio.
We promoted the role of reserves across Yorkshire and the Humber
Our role was to support the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force’s efforts to recruit reservists and to promote the value of the reservists’ role.
- More than 50 students made enquiries about joining an officer cadet unit at their university after a freshers’ week campaign run by the RFCA.
- The RFCA gained regional media coverage and social media engagement for its work promoting the role of reserves in the Covid-19 effort.
- Numbers of reserves during the year remained broadly static.
We secured the support of the region's employers
Employer Recognition Scheme.
- Record numbers of organisations pledged to give fair treatment to the military by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.
- Record numbers of employers from the region were successful in winning Gold and Silver Awards under the Employer Recognition Scheme.
- All four Lord-Lieutenants attended an online ceremony for our Silver Award winners.
We worked to win the hearts and minds of communities
Our role is to encourage support for reserves, cadets and the wider military community through our enduring relationships within local communities.
- We produced four films – one to replace each of the Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant Awards’ in-person ceremonies – capturing the spirit of events that could not go ahead due to Covid.
- We increased our engagement on social media, developed a new website and webpage on the Government’s gov.uk website.
We championed cadets across the region
Whether it was virtual cookery classes, sports challenges or courses covering anything from skippering a boat to the rudiments of flying, the Cadet Experience went online in 2020/21 to keep our young people engaged and connected while restricted to home.
Thanks to our cadet force adult volunteers, cadets were able to access a raft of virtual activities, which often took place live. However, there were limited periods of in-person training and all annual summer camps and residential weekends were cancelled.
Marine cadet Naomi lands prestigious new role
Army cadet Rosie wins top award for contribution to the Covid-19 effort
Lockdown doesn't deter Mya
Our cadets in numbers
Against this backdrop, cadet numbers dipped for all but the in-school Combined Cadet Forces (CCF). This was partly due to the fact that some cadets aged out during the year and there was limited scope to recruit new ones.
Cadet numbers overall dropped by 118 or two per cent from 6,483 to 6,335 during 2020/21. However, the 40 per cent hike in CCF numbers masked the scale of the fall in cadet numbers among the community cadet forces. The proportion of female cadets remained at a third.
Given the challenges of the year, the normal measures of success such as attainment of Duke of Edinburgh Awards, other qualifications, attendance at camp counted for less as many cadets were restricted in their involvement with their unit. Nevertheless that so many cadets still attained external qualifications such as Duke of Edinburgh is a tribute to both their commitment and that of the adult volunteers.
Number of cadets, excluding probationary cadets, by force and year and Duke of Edinburgh Awards 2020
(per 100 cadets)
|Army Cadets Yorkshire (North and West)||1,334*||1,213*||1,332*||1,125||53**|
|Army Cadets Humberside and South Yorkshire||1,181*||1,099*||1,090*||937||23|
|Air Cadets (Central and East Yorkshire Wing)||845||825||807||649||14|
|Air Cadets (South and West Yorkshire Wing)||950||987||934||924||67**|
|Total community cadets||4,885||4,929||5,122||4,463|
|Combined Cadet Force||1,130||1,133||1,361*||1,902|
We supported units to recruit adult volunteers across Yorkshire and the Humber
Our cadet force adult volunteers
Cadet forces worked hard to retain adult volunteers during 2020/21, ensuring they remained engaged and up to date with mandatory training. However, with repeated lockdowns, some adult volunteers inevitably fell away, though units welcomed new recruits too with Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force reporting nearly 100 new expressions of interest and putting in place a new training programme for those wishing to volunteer.
Support for cadets
The Sea Cadets continued to enjoy the lowest cadet to adult volunteer ratio by a considerable margin – with two cadets for every volunteer compared to six cadets for every volunteer in Yorkshire (North and West) Army Cadet Force. The Sea Cadets also stood out by having a greater proportion of female adult volunteers compared to other forces – with around half of all Sea Cadet adult volunteers being female compared to around a third in other forces.
Liz keeps cadets active during lockdowns
Tom takes up the reins in Strensall
Richard makes his mark at new joint cadet centre
Cadet volunteers in numbers
Number of adult volunteers by service and year
|Army Cadets Yorkshire (North and West)||205||193||239*||205|
|Army Cadets Humberside and South Yorkshire||231||218||235*||194|
|Air Cadets (Central and East Yorkshire Wing)||197||147||212||195|
|Air Cadets (South and West Yorks Wing)||334||340||311||340|
|Total community adult volunteers||1,192||1,155||1,265||1,393|
|Combined Cadet Force||55||56||74||62|
|Total adult volunteers||1,247||1,211||1,339||1,455|
Number of cadets for every adult volunteer and percentage of female adult volunteers, by force, December 2020
|Cadets per adult volunteer||Percentage of female volunteers|
|Sea Cadets||2||47 per cent|
|Army Cadets Yorkshire (North and West)||6||36 per cent|
|Army Cadets (Humberside and South Yorkshire)||5||30 per cent|
|Air Cadets (Central and East Yorkshire)||3||28 per cent|
|Air Cadets (South and West Yorkshire)||3||33 per cent|
|Combined Cadet Force||31||–|
|Average||–||35 per cent|
We promoted the role of reserves across Yorkshire and the Humber
Reserves played a crucial part in the national Covid-19 response and their role not only underlined their importance to current UK defence but also presaged a potential future landscape in which their contribution in the domestic sphere is further expanded.
The RFCA tracks reserve numbers in the region on a Ministry of Defence database and reports them to the organisation’s Engagement Advisory Board.
During 2020/21, numbers remained broadly static with a slight dip in both Army and Air Force figures. Numbers of female reserves grew slightly but they still remain a small fraction of the workforce.
Yorkshire officer cadets' summer training rearranged due to Covid-19
Ochieng among RAF reserves to win promotion
Ben deploys to support Covid effort
Number of reservists by service and year
|March 2019||March 2020||March 2021|
|Royal Naval Reserves||85||106||111|
Number and percentage of female reserves
We secured the support of employers across Yorkshire and the Humber
Civilian organisations and employers
The RFCA found new ways of developing relationships with employers on behalf of the military in 2020/21 – and achieved record-breaking results.
Covid-19 restrictions meant face-to-face meetings and networking events were out and in were online workshops and video-conferencing as our go-to methods of forging and maintaining great partnerships with the region’s employers.
Indeed, with so many of our employers having reserve members of staff deployed in the fight against Covid-19, it had never been more important to keep them engaged and informed.
Adaptability was key during 2020/21 and the RFCA’s ability to change its approach to meet the Covid-19 challenge paid off. More than 150 organisations, more than ever before in a single year, signed the Armed Forces Covenant and record numbers won Gold and Silver Awards under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).
Forces-friendly engineering company wins Silver Award
York St John University lands a Gold
Zoom presentation for Silver Award winners
Armed Forces Covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant scheme is an essential way of securing support among the civilian community for the military. Under the covenant, organisations pledge to treat the forces fairly – including reserves, veterans and cadet force adult volunteers – and it is frequently the gateway to involving employers in the ERS scheme.
First virtual signing
During 2020/21, the RFCA joined forces with its counterpart in the North East – the North of England RFCA – to stage the UK’s first ever virtual Armed Forces Covenant signing ceremony.
Eleven employers from across both regions took part and, from Yorkshire, the York Coffee Emporium as well as its parent company, The Upton Group, signed the pledge.
Number of organisations signing up to the Armed Forces covenant by year
|Year||Number of organisations|
The year saw more organisations than ever receive ERS Silver and Gold Awards – an indicator that, even in difficult times, civilian communities across Yorkshire and the Humber are keen to support the military.
Number of ERS Silver and Gold Award Winners by year
|Silver Awards||Gold Awards|
- Adler and Allan
- Associated British Ports Humber
- Askham Bryan College
- Beyond Housing
- Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust
- ERS Medical
- Hambleton District Council
- Humberside Police
- Jellybean Consultancy
- NG Bailey
- Rotherham and South Humber NHS Trust
- Scarborough Borough Council
- Sheffield City Council (revalidation)
- Sheffield Mind
- South Yorkshire Police
- Wakefield Council
Gold Award winners
- Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
- East Riding College
- Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
- Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
- North Lincolnshire Council
- North Yorkshire County Council
- York St John University
- Yorkshire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.
We provided great places to work and train across Yorkshire and the Humber
While the pandemic inevitably caused delays to some of the RFCA’s projects, emergency repairs and statutory maintenance carried on throughout 2020/21 uninterrupted.
In total, 1,189 repairs were carried out at a cost of nearly £800,000 – and our customers were satisfied with 99 per cent of work done.
Despite Covid-related setbacks, the RFCA also delivered major, new infrastructure projects such as the development of a new army cadet centre in Barton-upon-Humber, the redevelopment of Wolfe Armoury in Beverley as a centre for both army and air cadets and the further development of Harrogate joint cadet centre.
Making a real difference
Each of these new developments will make a real difference to the quality of the Cadet Experience enjoyed by the young people based in those buildings. They will also support the new recruitment efforts once face-to-face training resumes across all units.
Another stand-out project of the year was the considerable work done to the expansive, wood-lined roof at Huddersfield’s historic drill hall. This means most of the leaks besetting the building have now, for the time being, been resolved, making for a much-improved training environment for the reserves from 4YORKS who are based there. However, work on the roof will be an on-going investment if it is not to fall into disrepair.
A further investment in the future was work to develop a new, online document-sharing service to enable contractors to upload and view the mandatory documents associated with each of the RFCA’s buildings on specially-created webpage. This service is due to launch in the first half of 2021/22.
Clare gets ready to welcome cadets to new Barton cadet centre
Repairs bring drier times for Yorkshire reserves
Second phase completed of work to upgrade Harrogate Joint Cadet Centre
Projects completed in 2020/21
- A £370,000 project to re-provision for the Army Cadet Force in Barton-upon-Humber
- A £250,000 project to remodel Wolfe Armoury in Beverley as a joint cadet centre for air and army cadets
- A £300,000 scheme to create new training accommodation for both air and army cadets within the Harrogate Joint Cadet Centre
- A £170,000 refurbishment of Maritime Reserve accommodation within Carlton Barracks, Leeds
- The part delivery of 15 bastion armouries under Project Aintree at a cost of £90,000 per armoury
- A £200,000 project to carry out repairs to the Drill Hall roof at Huddersfield
- £115,000 remodelling and renovation of a building used by 168 (City of Leeds) Squadron, Air Training Corps
- Renovation to several roofs and the kitchen area within Castleford Joint Cadet Centre at a cost of £85,000
- A £40,000 project to renovate the glass front to the drill hall at Manor Top,Sheffield
- The replacement of the whole roof on a store building within Driffield Cadet Training Centre at a cost of £65,000
Planned projects for year 2021/2022
- Refurbishment and remodelling of a further building at 168 (City of Leeds) Squadron, Air Training Corps, at an estimated cost of £115,000
- Further refurbishment of the Huddersfield Drill Hall roof £50,000
- Repairs to the Drill Hall roof at Carlton Barracks £100,000
- Replacement of a building roof at Manor Top army reserve centre, Sheffield, £150,000
- Creation of a changing area and locker room within Carlton Barracks, £70,000
We won the hearts and minds of communities across Yorkshire and the Humber
Reaching our communities
With Covid-19 restrictions, the RFCA found new and innovative ways to promote and support the cadet and reserve forces.
The aim was to maintain engagement when in-person training was on hold and to showcase the role of reservists at a time of national crisis.
With the four Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant Award ceremonies unable to go ahead in-person, the RFCA worked closely with the region’s Lord-Lieutenants to create online occasions that would be truly memorable for all award recipients – outstanding cadets, adult volunteers and reserves in each of the four counties.
The result were four 30-minute awards videos that were premiered ‘as if live’ across our social media channels at the time the in-person events would have taken place. These films were rated as ‘best in class’ by other RFCAs and gained more than 8,000 views online – a level of engagement far exceeding anything achieved in previous years.
For Reserves Day, the RFCA secured regional radio coverage of reservists from 4YORKS for their involvement in the Covid-19 testing. We also ran an innovative ‘as if live’ question and answer session on Instagram featuring reserves from both the Royal Navy and British Army. Similarly, our support for the Freshers Week recruitment drive reached more than 1,000 people with over 50 choosing to take steps to get further information online about joining the Yorkshire Officer Training Regiment.
During the year the RFCA worked with outside contractors to develop a new website for the RFCA which is more secure, can showcase content more effectively and performs better across search engines. We also worked with the Council of RFCAs to develop a webpage for the Yorkshire and Humber region on the Government’s central website gov.uk.
The RFCA’s engagement increased across all platforms, despite fewer posts, though individual platforms – Twitter and Linkedin – saw small dips. This means, on average, individual posts were gaining more engagement in 2020/21 than in previous years, which is in line with good practice. Numbers of followers and friends remained broadly static across all platforms – except for Instagram, which as our newest channel, continued to see growth and saw our number of followers more than double to 760.
Behind the scenes at the HM Lord-Lieutenants' Awards
Top Yorkshire stories get national coverage
RFCA updates its branding for fresh new look
Our carefully selected membership remained at the heart of efforts to serve as the military’s permanent ambassador in the region.
New members since April 2020
- Coun Angie Dale – Richmondshire District Council
- Coun Bob Johnson – Sheffield City Council
New associate members since April 2020
- Terry Baynes – Chair of South and West Yorkshire Wing
- Ryan Wilson – Director, TetraTech – New property advisory board member
Membership composition, March 2020, and statute target
|Membership type||Statute target||Actual number|
This is a summary of the RFCA's financial position for the year 2020/21, including its major sources of income and its expenditure.
Where our money comes from
The RFCA’s activities were funded by a mix of external funding and regionally generated income (RGI) with our overall income totalling £8.05 million during the year.
Around £7.27 million of external funding came from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), for employer support, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) for properties and facilities management, and single service sources for reserve and cadet administration.
Regionally generated income
Our regionally generated income (RGI) totalled £783,072 and was largely generated through business rates rebates and lettings revenue. This was less than the previous year and this reduction was due to a fall in income from lettings as a result of COVID 19 lockdowns.
Pie chart showing that the overwhelming part of the RFCAs money (90.3 per cent or £7,265, 347) comes from external sources, with only 9.7 per cent or £783,072 coming from income generated in the region.
How we spent regionally generated money
RGI expenditure is approved by the Finance Advisory Board (FAB) in line with MOD priorities and local needs.
Some £1,015,950 was spent during the financial year drawing on additional funds carried forward from 2019/20
Key notable expenditure on behalf of our region included:
- £400,000 for re-provision at Barton ACF
- £115,000 for refurbishment at Wolfe Armoury
- £130,000 for refurbishment at Huddersfield
This pie chart shows how regionally generated income was spent during the year.
How we spent external funding
Projects that attracted external funding during the year were:
- £578,000 from DIO to continue the upgrading of armouries across the region to make them compliant with new regulations.
- £128,000 from (DIO) for refurbishment at 168 Sqn City of Leeds
- £80,000 from (DIO) for refurbishment at 58 Sqn Harrogate
- £190,000 from (DIO) for enhancement at HMS Ceres.
A pie chart showing how our external funding was spent
- Staff costs, £1,825,944
- Estates projects, £1,590,319
- DIO infrastructure, £ 1,206,687
- Cadet support, £169,532
- ATC support, £162,093
- ACF operating costs, £141,429
- DRM support, £110,553
- Home adaptations for injured service personnel, £100,613
- IT/comms, £80,937
- Admin/travel, £63,461
- Vehicles, £17,440
- Professional fees, £11,552
- RAuxAF support, £3,438
The year ahead
£280,000 of RGI funds was carried forward and will continue to contribute towards funding the 2021/22 programme as endorsed by the FAB.