• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

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University sponsors first National Armed Forces and Emergency Services event


The event is the first of its kind in the UK to celebrate the ethos of service – past, present and future


The National Armed Forces and Emergency Services Event (NAFESE) will take place at the Stadium of Light on 27 April 2023, and it will be the first occasion the armed forces and emergency services have come together to hold a large-scale event of its kind.

The University of Sunderland is the main sponsor for the event and will host a number of stalls and activities on the day, which cover workforce development courses such as eSports, fully funded ESF (European Union Social Fund) courses, and degree apprenticeships.

Over the years, the University has built substantial and enduring links with the UK’s armed forces and is currently a proud holder of the Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award. The University is committed to ensuring that any service personnel wishing to study for a degree or other qualification are supported to do so. There are currently 114 students with connections to the armed service studying University of Sunderland courses.

This includes former service personnel on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, foundation courses, independent learners and apprenticeships.

Simone Bedford, Associate Head of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Sunderland, and a Royal Air Force Veteran herself, said: “The University of Sunderland is very proud of our connections to the armed forces. We have a dedicated team to support staff and students with the transition from the military into ‘civvy’ street. Our Veterans and Reservists Network engages with staff and students to ensure we offer the best support to the military community at the University.”

Kicking off the NAFESE is The Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club in Quinn’s Bar at 9am. Sunderland AFC, who are hosting the event, were the first football club in the UK to stage an Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club and this will be the seventh one to be held at the Stadium of Light.

The NAFESE exhibition begins at 9.30am in the Montgomery Suite and adjoining areas and includes a recruitment zone for both those looking to join the forces and services and those leaving the forces and services and embarking on a new career.

Exhibitors for the NAFESE exhibition include Forces Pension Society, Sunderland Software City, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Cleveland Police, Red Sky Foundation, MedCover, McTimoney College of Chiropractic and many more with over 40 in attendance.

There will also be a STEM Village with several schools and colleges invited to attend on the day with engagement teams from the likes of Europe’s largest nuclear site, Sellafield Ltd.

A number of businesses and organisations have come together to support the NAFESE, including Sunderland AFC, Veterans in Crisis, The Hygeia Clinic, The Coastguard Association and Pathfinder International magazine.

Sunderland AFC’s Chief Operating Officer Steve Davison said: “At Sunderland AFC, we recognise the immense importance of supporting all within our local and regional communities, including our veterans. The north-east and the City of Sunderland has proud ties with the armed forces across many generations and that extends to the Club, so it is a privilege to be hosting the first NAFESE in addition to the continuation of our Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club, which continues to support many service men and women.”

Charity Partner for the event, Veterans in Crisis, continues to produce great work in the city. Charity founder Ger Fowler added: “It is such an honour for the city to stage the first event of this nature. The area has great ties with the armed forces and our emergency services are well respected and so it is an ideal combination to cover both at one event.”

Pathfinder International, an Armed Forces resettlement publication, is also backing the event. Editor Mal Robinson said: “It is quite a coup for the City of Sunderland to stage an event of this magnitude. It made sense for Sunderland AFC to be the first location, such is the good work they do with both forces and services communities.”

There is even more to look forward to – on 28 June 2023, the Stadium of Light will be the setting for the 2023 Services Awards with awards categories for the best in service for the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Police, NHS, Volunteer Services and Fire Service.

For information on how to register for the NAFESE please visit www.nafese2023.com or Eventbrite.

For any schools and colleges wishing to attend and for general exhibitor enquiries on the event, please contact the NAFESE team at hospitality@nafese2023.com

Find more information on the University of Sunderland’s workforce development courses here.

More about the Armed Forces Covenant here.