Hampshire County Council has underlined its commitment to the Armed Forces. By renewing its pledge that serving and veteran members of the Forces, and their families. Are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged when accessing public services such as education and healthcare.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby, signed the Armed Forces Covenant, in a renewal of its existing pledge. At a ceremony held on 20 October.
The County Council was selected some 12 years ago to be among the first to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. Because of its strong track record and significant beneficial work it does with its military partners.
Hampshire has a historic and long-standing close relationship with the Armed Forces and has military facilities from all three services. Some 72,000 households in Hampshire include someone who has served in the UK armed forces.
Commenting following the ceremony, Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby said: “Hampshire is home to one of the largest armed forces communities in the country. Our commitment to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant means that we look carefully at our services to ensure that there is no disadvantage to the Armed Forces community in the way services are provided. And that we are making special considerations where appropriate. Especially for those who have given the most, such as the injured and the bereaved.
“We are proud that we were one of the first local authorities to sign the original Covenant in 2011. And one of only two local authorities to receive the Defence Employers Recognition Gold Award in 2016.”
Commodore John Voyce OBE attended the ceremony on behalf of the Royal Navy, and said: “I was delighted to attend the re-signing of the Armed Forces Covenant by Hampshire County Council. Who continue to show their dedication and commitment through their unwavering support to the Armed Forces.”
Brigadier Lee Daley, Commandant Defence College of Logistics, representing the Army, said: “It is with great pleasure that I renew the relationship between Hampshire County Council and the Defence Units that fall within its borders. It is vital that we encourage engagement with the community that we serve and ensure fairness for all serving personnel and their families. The Covenant is an articulation of this relationship and I hope to see this bond continue and strengthen for many years to come.”
Group Captain Matt Roberts OBE DFC RAF, Station Commander, RAF Odiham, said: “On behalf of all our Royal Air Force personnel based in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It is a privilege to re-sign the Armed Forces Covenant today. The support of Hampshire County Council is invaluable in ensuring the Covenant recognises the contribution of our serving and veteran military personnel and their families to the UK.”
In line with the Covenant Duty, the County Council considers the needs of the Forces when making decisions about service provision. Particularly as part of its role in education and further education.
For example, the County Council actively supports Hampshire schools and leads a network of school Service Coordinators in their pursuit of best practice for pupils from military families. The County Council’s skills and employment programmes. Such as the Construction Skills, Driving Futures, and Apprenticeship Levy Transfer programmes. Have created retraining and upskilling opportunities for former military personnel and their families to develop their skills and knowledge in sectors where there is a demand for talent. And which are important to the Hampshire economy.
Hampshire County Council is also a military-friendly employer with policies which support staff to work flexibly and have time off for key occasions such as homecomings. The County Council also has a Reservist policy in place allowing staff 10 days paid leave for reservist duties. And support for the mobilisation of staff – as was the case for some Reservist staff members who were mobilised as part of the national response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
External grants are available to support Hampshire’s Armed Forces Community, for example the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, which has several different grant streams open each year.