Cornwall’s Website for The Armed Forces Community Covenant officially launched

cc-logo-2Earlier this year the Leader of Cornwall Council John Pollard asked me to become the Lead Member for Armed Forces in Cornwall Council.

Our first act was to formally re-affirmed the Council’s commitment along with representatives from Royal British Legion, RNAS Culdrose, HMS Raleigh, RAF St Mawgan and SSAFA to the Armed Forces Cornwall Community Covenant. Like with our partners, Cornwall Council is committed to the Armed Forces Community Covenant.

As an Armed Forces veteran myself, I wholeheartedly support the Council’s commitment in close partnership with the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force, RBL and SAAFA to the Covenant.

From the re-affirming of the Covenant, a special section on the Council’s website has been dedicated to provide information to members of the Armed Forces, Veterans and their families about the support and advice which is available to them. The link to the website is HERE. Please share this information far and wide.

The Covenant is a voluntary statement of mutual support between the civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community.  The Community Covenant is intended to complement the Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces, at a local level.

The aim of the Cornwall Community Covenant is to encourage support for the Armed Forces Community stationed and residing in Cornwall and to recognise and remember the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces Community which includes serving and former armed forces personnel, veterans, their families and widowers in Cornwall.

I very much welcome the development of this new section on Cornwall Council’s website dedicated to the Armed Forces community. The aim of this single point of information is to help ensure that Forces personnel, their families and veterans in Cornwall know about the support which is available to them.”

The website has gone live today the 7th November and contains information on the Covenant, as well as advice on where to go for advice on help on issues such as housing, education, funding and grants, training and jobs.  It also has information about events and activities targeted at members of the Armed Forces community and will continue to be developed and enhanced in our ongoing work with partners as part of our commitment to the covenant.

The is also a Community Covenant Board that I chair and is made up of senior representatives of the three Armed Forces, as well as RBL, SAAFA and representatives from Housing, Benefits, Education (Policy HERE) and the three Armed Forces Family Services.

The aim of the board is to discuss and action any issued that put serving personnel, Veterans and their families at a disadvantage. One of the areas of priority for the boards work is housing.

A lot has happened in the last few months, and more will happen. This is because there is key support from all the partners. It is a real team effort.

Cornwall Council supports The Royal British Legion’s campaign ‘Count them in’

At today’s full council, I submitted a motion that would lend Cornwall Council support to The Royal British Legion ‘Count them in’ campaign which calls the Government to include a new topic in the 2021 census. The motion is as:

This Council notes

  1. The obligations it owes to the Armed Forces community within Cornwall as enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant; that the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage in the provision of services and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most;
  2. The absence of the definitive and comprehensive statistics on the size or demographics of the Armed Forces community within Cornwall Council. This includes serving Regular and Reserve personnel, veterans and their families;
  3. That the availability of such data would greatly assist the Council, local partner agencies, the voluntary sector and national Government in the planning a provision of services to address the unique needs of the Armed Forces community within Cornwall Council.

In light of the above, this Council moves to support and promote The Royal British Legion’s call to include a new topic in the 2021 census that concerns military service and membership of the Armed Forces community. The motion further calls on the Government to approve the final census questionnaire through legislation in 2019.

Why is there need to have a question on the census? It is quite simple, the lack of clear data about the size and location of the Armed Forces community , including regular and reserve personnel, veterans and their families, makes it difficult for service providers to fully meet their needs.

The British Legion estimates that the Armed Forces community makes up around one in ten of the general population, with around 2.8m veterans living in the UK, along with 2.1m dependent adults, 1m dependent children and up to 290,000 “hidden” members of the ex serving community who are living in care homes etc.

Despite this large population however, the 2011 UK census only contained two questions related to the Armed Forces – one asking whether a member of the armed Forces usually lived at that address and the second whether the respondent usually lived at an Armed Forces base for over 30 days a year. This failed to collect detailed information on veterans or their dependents, and only provided limited information about reservists and dependents of those serving.

The Armed Forces Covenant, introduced by the Government, sets out how members of the Armed Forces and their families should be treated and yet we do not have the information to help achieve this. At Cornwall Council, we have updated our own version to reflect we need to do more.

I am pleased to say the vote was unanimous with no Councillor voting against this motion.

Cornwall Council re-affirms its commitment to the Armed Forces Cornwall Community Covenant

Yesterday, Cornwall Council held a special ceremony to re-affirm and improve the Council’s commitment to the Armed Forces Cornwall Community Covenant.

The Covenant is a voluntary statement of mutual support between the civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community, the Community Covenant is intended to complement the Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces, at a local level.

The Leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard asked me if I would become the Council’s Armed Forces Lead Member. Which I was honoured to take up. As an Armed Forces veteran myself, I wholeheartedly welcome Cornwall Council’s commitment to The Covenant with the re-pledging ceremony.

The ceremony was attended by the Leader of Cornwall Council; Rear Admiral Alastair Ross CB, CBE – Chairman of SSAFA Cornwall;  Steve Lewis – Chairman of the Royal British Legion Cornwall; Commander Ian Fitter – RNAS Culdrose; Commander Sean Brady- HMS Raleigh and Wing Commander Guy Bazalgette – RAF St Mawgan.

Military Declaration Signing 2016-8

Back row L-R Rear Admiral Alastair Ross CB, CBE Chairman of SSAFA Cornwall; Steve Lewis – Chairman of the Royal British Legion Cornwall ; Andrew Wallis – Cabinet Member for Young People and Armed Forces Lead Member and Commander Ian Fitter – RNAS Culdrose Front Row L-R -Commander Sean Brady – HMS Raleigh; John Pollard – Leader of Cornwall Council and Wing Commander Guy Bazalgette – RAF St Mawgan

The purpose of the Cornwall Community Covenant is to encourage support for the Armed Forces Community working and residing in Cornwall and to recognise and remember the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces Community which includes serving and former armed forces personnel, veterans, their families, widows and widowers in Cornwall.

From this re-affirming ceremony, and working with the Armed Forces, RBL and SAAFA we will make sure no service person, their family, or those veterans will be put at a disadvantage. This is the least we can do to recognise contribution to our Nation.

Me signing the Military Declaration Signing 2016-7

 

Supporting the education of children of Armed Forces personnel in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council via the Children’s Learning and Achievement department, has launched a new programme for improving outcomes for children from service families in the early years and schools within Cornwall. The programme will involve statutory, private, voluntary and independent providers of services for children and will ensure that it adheres to the Armed Forces Community Covenant.

It will support the following principles including recognising the unique nature of service in the Armed Forces; ensuring there is no disadvantage in accessing public services, including in this context education and early years provision; and to allow special treatment where justified (for example where there may be a bereavement etc.).

Looking at the national picture it is not known the total number of school age service children. However, in 2006 an estimate of numbers was given to the House of Commons Defence Committee of between 90,000 – 186,000 children*. In Cornwall we have a clearer picture on the number of service children with a total of 2,072 children for the academic year of 2013/14. This is between 2.4 -3% of the total school population. This can be further broken-down to Early Years (reception) 157, Primary 1177 and Secondary 738.

The programme will develop early childhood and education services that are of high quality, accessible to all children, including service children and effective in improving outcomes for children. It will also prioritise the training and development of teams and individuals. This is in order that they understand and know how to support children where there may be an impact on children’s well-being or achievement due to the issues of mobility and deployment that are experienced by service personnel and their families.

The impact of the programme will be to improve the outcomes for children and their families through high quality services which focus on ensuring that children of service personal are known, and are able to access educational provision, are ready for school and learning, achieve well and enjoy good health and well-being. Furthermore service families are supported in order to manage the effects of mobility and deployment.

This programme covers all children as defined by the eligibility criteria for pupil premium, but will also recognise the needs of children who have been affected by related matters, but who many not meeting the pupil premium criteria in full. These include, children of a parent who was killed in action within the previous six years, children of divorced service personnel where the service parents does not have custody and children who has been a veteran for no-more than six years.

Initially this programme will centre on provision in Helston, Newquay and Torpoint where the majority of service children live.

I am hugely supportive of this programme, both a the Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, but who was also a child from a service family, and having served myself in the Senior Service. I know first-hand the difficulties of schooling as a child of an Armed Forces family who went to at least nine different schools due to my father being posted both around this country and abroad; also as a former member of the Senior Service who witnessed first-hand the difficulties families face when one, or in some cases, both parents are deployed and moving to and from different units.

*Unsung Heroes: developing a better understanding of the emotional support needs of Service Families.