A look back at 2021

26 Jan 2022

January is upon us – a time for looking ahead to the year to come, but also to reflect on the past 12 months. For me, although it hardly seems possible, this also means looking back over my first year into my tenure as the Ombudsman for SCOAF.

The time went very quickly. However, a huge amount was achieved within the year.  I am immensely proud of the work done by my team. In addition to a change in ombudsman, the last 12 months involved a change of office, and a change of IT system – alongside the continued uncertainty of Covid-19. Set against this backdrop of challenging circumstances, the SCOAF team have shown huge amounts of resilience and dedication. I am very grateful to them for making my first year in post a pleasure.

From a personal perspective, being new to this sector was a steep learning curve. Several visits to various locations provided valuable insight into Service life and shed light on some of the issues faced by Service personnel. I am grateful to the personnel that I met so far for their level of engagement and candour. I was also struck by the level of enthusiasm and openness demonstrated by each of the Service Complaint secretariats. Whilst the system is not perfect, I am encouraged by the fact that there are individuals who are genuinely passionate about change and improvement to the complaints system.

SCOAF set several deliverables in our Business Plan, in support of our new Strategic Objectives. These represented an ambitious programme of work, and I am extremely pleased with the significant progress made to date. The draft of the 2021 Annual Report is well underway, to set out the observations SCOAF made on the Service Complaints system, what went well, and where further work may still be required. The report, due to be published later this year, will also cover SCOAF’s performance, and the steps taken to improve the services we provide. Following this, SCOAF will host a symposium to further discuss the matter.

2021 laid some important foundations – both in terms of SCOAF’s performance and building our relationship with the Services. This next year will bring a continued commitment to bringing about positive change, and collaborative working in support of a Service Complaints system in which all service personnel can trust.