Union Jack Club

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Union Jack Club's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Union Jack Club is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Members in the bar
The restaurant
The Union Jack Club is a charity for serving and veteran
non-commissioned members of the armed forces and their
families. Located in London opposite Waterloo station,
the club is an active component of the Military Covenant. The
club provides a comfortable and friendly environment in which
members can enjoy the capital, have a meal or drink, or just catch
up with friends. To this end, it includes a 260-bedroom hotel and
a large restaurant. The character of the club has its basis in the
strong mutual respect between its members and staff. CEO Simon
Atkins puts forward a more detailed overview of the charity.
The Edwardian period
The club was the idea of a resourceful and energetic lady, Ethel McCaul, who,
having served as a Red Cross nurse in field hospitals during the Boer War, was
determined that her brave soldiers and sailors should be shielded from the
debauchery and immorality that then pervaded London. She stipulated that the
club should provide a bed for less than a day’s pay of the newest recruit – a
principle that has endured since 1907, when the club was opened by King Edward
VII. Since then, the club has welcomed over 20 million members and guests, and
we now have Her Majesty The Queen as our patron.
A persisting ethos
Our success rests on the strong, committed team that runs the club and on the
longevity of the service of our staff (which averages over seven years). The standards
QueenElizabeth II
»President: Vice Admiral Sir
Fabian Malbon KBE
»CEO: Simon Atkins
»Established in 1907
»Based near Waterloo, London
»Services: Residential club for
non-commissioned serving
and veteran members of the
armed forces
»No. of employees: 154
»Annual use of bedrooms:
110,833 in 2017
Union Jack Club
Highlighting best practice
that we follow create a friendly,
relaxed environment, providing the
best service and quality of product for
our members, guests and team. This
is achieved by a motivated and skilled
team of 154 employees (including
apprentices), all of whom are paid
the London living wage or more and
who receive a significant number of
additional benefits. A learning support
manager assists the team in the
direction and facilitation of training
at all levels. Communication more
generally is an essential part of the
club’s ethos, with daily updates to
all heads of departments, daily team
briefings and monthly management
discussions planning the way ahead.
Feedback from our members testifies
our team’s attention to detail in all
areas, with an average of over 80 per
cent scoring “excellent” and another
18 per cent scoring “very good” in
members’ surveys. Many of these
reviews comment on the quality of the
menu we offer, which our professional
chefs produce using high-quality,
fresh ingredients, servicing our newly
refurbished restaurant and bar, as
well as tailored menus for our ten
banqueting rooms. Our members and
their guests greatly appreciate this
excellent value for money.
The structure of our
As a charity, our governance is
directed by a board of trustees.
These volunteers bring a range of
knowledge and experience from
both the armed forces and civilian
professions, including hoteliers,
financial experts and people well
versed in property and law. Also
bolstering this effort is the executive
committee of trustees’ close support
of the management team. A general
committee of senior warrant officers
of the armed forces and veteran
members represents the interests and
concerns of these groups and meets
on a regular basis with the senior
management team. The support that
these groups provide ensures that
the club’s management team are
able to draw on extensive expertise;
these experts collectively have a real
understanding of the club and are
without conflicting interests. This has
been invaluable in the transformation
of the club during recent years.
Our serving membership is free for
all non-commissioned members of
the armed forces and their families
through their military ID cards. An
online booking system was introduced
Double en-suite
bedroom Espresso bar
The standards
that we follow
create a
providing the
best service
and quality of
in 2016, and we now hold over
24,000 serving profiles, which still
increases at a rate of over 780 per
month. Many more serving members
use the club as a base to visit during
the day, whether for a meal, for a
drink, to leave baggage or to use
our changing rooms while they are
in London. On leaving the armed
forces, serving members may join free
for two years, assisting them in their
resettlement. We currently have over
23,000 veteran members, a figure
that has doubled in the past six years,
and this membership is available
to all former non-commissioned
members of the armed forces who
have honourably served for more than
two years. They currently pay £25 to
join and an annual subscription of
£20, with spouse, partner and life
membership available. The success of
the increase in membership is due to
the improvements made throughout
the club, alongside an effective
membership support team.
Moving forward
Over the past six years, the club has
undergone major refurbishment,
with over £7 million of investment,
bringing the 1970s building into the
21st century. We have recently created
three new floors of en suite bedrooms,
where they had previously been
bedrooms with shared bathrooms.
This concluded the refurbishment of all
the bedroom accommodation, which
includes four flats and eight family
rooms. The importance of accessibility
is also at the forefront of everything
we do, which is why we have 12 fully
accessible rooms.
All our public areas have been
redesigned, as have the kitchens,
restaurant, bar and ten banqueting
and meeting rooms, as well as
the reception area, with its new
espresso bar. The visual impact of the
refurbishment is easy to see in the
public areas, but much investment
has also been dedicated to non-public
areas, with new mechanical plant and
the refurbishment of exterior fascias,
flat roofs and lifts. The year 2019
will also see £700,000 put towards
a new boiler. The refurbishment
work has been supported by grants
from the Nuffield Trust, Help for
Heroes, the Army Central Fund, the
RAF Central Fund, the Royal Navy
and Royal Marines Charity, and ABF
Our greatest challenge is ensuring
that the current building, built in
the ’70s, is relevant for today. For
instance, the digital age requires us to
provide access to free wifi for multiple
devices. It is important, after all, that
the club remains forward-looking and
provides the very best facilities and
environment for our members and
their guests.
Changes in the law, alongside issues
relating to Brexit, are also matters that
concern us – particularly the latter, as
many of our team have been recruited
from the EU. Nevertheless, members’
needs remain at the forefront of all our
initiatives. Our priority is to make sure
that all changes build on the success
of the past while also looking to the
future with a strong sense of purpose
for our members.
Over the past six
years, the club
has undergone
with over
£7million of
Members at the front of
the club


This article was sponsored by Union Jack Club. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy