South West agrees regional support for Armed Forces
Wiltshire Council joined local authorities from across the region to be updated on the South West Armed Forces Covenant Project and discuss its support for the military community.
The councils are working together in partnership to improve the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant, to raise awareness and promote understanding to benefit military communities.
More than 130 representatives from the Ministry of Defence, charities and local government met at the first South West Regional Armed Forces Covenant Champions Conference at the Garrison Theatre, Tidworth.
The local authorities won £190,000 Government funding in 2016 for a range of measures and received an extra £150,000 this spring to fund veterans' outreach, which will incorporate a mobile outreach vehicle developed for next year.
The conference was presented with a number of proposals which saw agreements in principle to:
- Creation of a regional executive to improve coordination
- Develop a Forces Friendly Quality Mark to provide a standard which measures local authority delivery of the covenant
- Encourage training to reinforce the effectiveness of the covenant
- Implement "Asking the question" to verify if people have or are serving
- Launch the name Forces Connect South West to continue the unified approach to implementing the covenant
Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "This has been a very good conference. It gave everyone a chance to catch up on what is happening across the region, and also to have the time to network and talk about how the region can deliver the Armed Forces Covenant better."
Mark Collins, assistant director of Veterans' Gateway who spoke at the conference, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for greater awareness and it's also about showing collaboration and our general passion and support for the Armed Forces community."
The event was attended by eight councils: Wiltshire, Bristol City, Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth City, Gloucestershire, Somerset and North Somerset. The partnership has worked to identify gaps and improve delivery of services to the military through greater collaboration of public and charitable groups.
The approach echoes the aspirations of the Armed Forces Covenant which was reaffirmed in Wiltshire in 2017. It ensures that the council, businesses and public and voluntary sector work with the military to provide help and advice to the Armed Forces community.