Artist, Veteran and VC Gallery Founder, Barry John MBE, was invited by Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee and Local Preseli MP, Stephen Crabb to present evidence about the role of the Veterans’ Commissioner in Wales.
In the evidence session held on Wednesday 14th June, members of the Welsh Affairs Committee, which is a cross-party group of parliamentarians, Barry John MBE, Graham Jones, CEO of Woody’s Lodge, and Stephen Boswell, Regional Head of Wales SAFFA answered questions about the charitable services they provide, and the challenges they face with the delivery of veterans’ services across Wales, and their interactions with the Veterans Commissioner for Wales.
Barry was able to discuss the VC Gallery’s role in the local community across the County, its work in establishing its range of creative support services, and experiences of local interactions with other public sector providers, such as Hywel Dda Health Board, and Pembrokeshire County Council.
The Welsh Affairs Committee also heard directly from the Veterans’ Commissioner for Wales, Col James Philips, about the Veterans’ Commissioner’s work in delivering the UK Government’s Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan in Wales to better understand the suitability of services currently being provided to veterans in Wales.
The Veterans’ Commissioner for Wales ‘2023 Priorities report’ states that around 115,000 people in Wales reported that they had previously served in the UK Armed Forces so it was important to hear how the Veterans’ Commissioner is working with a range of organisations to undertake his work, including multiple government departments of the UK and Welsh governments and agencies to support these veterans.
Commenting on the committee session, Stephen Crabb MP said,
“I was delighted to welcome Barry to Parliament today to be quizzed by my committee on the current pressures facing the veteran’s community in Pembrokeshire, and across Wales. Barry and the other panellists provided a really useful insight into the work they do to support veterans on a day-to-day basis and I was very interested to hear about their experience of the Veterans Commissioner.”
“Barry demonstrates on a daily basis the passion and motivation he has for providing a hub of support to our local veteran community. He has done a tremendous job over the years and it has been a pleasure to watch him grow the charity from an initial idea to the success it is today. His experience and insight was vitally important for the committee today.”
Barry John MBE commented, “ I appreciated being asked by Stephen to have the opportunity this morning to represent veterans, Pembrokeshire and Wales, with the perspectives from the ground work being done by the Third Sector and what we are doing to support the Armed Forces Community. It was good to discuss the support the appointed Veterans Commissioner for Wales has brought to our aims in our sector during these challenging times.”