By Catriona Shaw, Armed Forces Covenant Team
Article from autumn 2013 Homeport
It’s been a busy few months for the Covenant Team at the MOD. We now have over 330 local authorities signed up to the Community Covenant, and have enjoyed hearing about all the successful events held up and down the country for Armed Forces Day in June. Check out our website: www.gov.uk/the-armed-forces-covenant for more information on these developments, but the main purpose of this article is to tell you about two important pieces of news and what they mean for Service families.
We have recently had some very exciting news in the Covenant Team, as the Chancellor decided that the Armed Forces Covenant will be permanently funded from 2015/16, with £10 million a year coming from the fines levied on the banks for attempting to manipulate the LIBOR interest rate. This is excellent news and it will allow us to continue supporting the fantastic work of the Armed Forces Covenant.
You may have noticed that on Armed Forces Day, the Prime Minister announced almost £3.8 million of funding for charities that support Service families through the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund. This £3.77 million builds on the £7 million already awarded in the first tranche of funding. We are looking forward to announcing further awards from this second tranche over the next few months.
In announcing the successful projects, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the vital role that you and your family play. He said, “Service families make extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf and as a society we should be doing more to support them. It is right that these charities are being recognised for their excellent work and getting the money they need to expand their vital work is exactly the right thing for our country to do.”
We take the effects Service can have on family members very seriously and supporting Service families is an important part of the Covenant. A number of the projects that received funding from the LIBOR Fund will focus on supporting the family life of the Armed Forces Community. For example, the Sailors Children Society received £70,000 to purchase two additional caravans to expand their programme of sending Royal Navy Service families on holiday, whilst the Royal Marines Barracks Chivenor was awarded £18,300 to complete renovations of a children’s play area.
Supporting the mental health of the Armed Forces Community was an important focus of this tranche of LIBOR funding. The Veterans Outreach Support received £414,000 to expand their monthly drop-in events in Portsmouth, which bring together public, private and charity sectors for one-stop assistance to Service personnel, and Shore Leave Haslar was awarded £13,000 to support their therapy programme based in the Memorial Gardens at the former Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport and Portsmouth. The Covenant recognises the importance of supporting our Veteran population, and Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Portsmouth was awarded £238,000 for on-going nursing and rehabilitation services for veterans and to upgrade facilities as it enters its 95th year of service.
Applications for a third round of funding are set to open in the autumn [open 5 September - 16 October 2013: click here for details] and will provide further opportunities to develop projects supporting troops, veterans and their families – keep an eye on the website for more details.
The other exciting news to tell you about is the introduction of the Corporate Covenant. A Corporate Covenant is a written and publicised voluntary pledge from businesses and charitable organisations who wish to demonstrate their concrete support for you and your family. The Corporate Covenant will support the Armed Forces Covenant and sit alongside the Community Covenant, and is designed to allow businesses and charitable organisations to express their support for the Armed Forces Community.
All Corporate Covenants will include a core statement of commitment that those adopting the scheme sign up to. This covers the two key principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, that are: no member of the Armed Forces community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen; and that in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate, especially for the injured or bereaved.
Each organisation will also be encouraged to offer support by adopting a number of commitments. For example, some companies are pledging to support the employment of Veterans, Reservists, Service spouses and partners, as well as support for Cadet Units, Armed Forces Day, and discounts for the Armed Forces Community. There is also an opportunity for companies and charitable organisations to add their own commitments based on local circumstances.
We are now actively signing up organisations so keep an eye on the website – www.gov.uk/the-corporate-covenant – to check out which companies are signing up, and make sure you encourage any organisations that you engage with to sign up!