Local leaders from the military, health service and voluntary and community sectors have put their heads together to come up with a plan on how best to support the local armed forces community.
Thanks to a funding award from the Covenant Trust Fund in 2021, Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport and the Isle of Wight councils have been working together, to identify the needs of local service members and their families. This week they met to present their latest findings, to reflect on work that has been done and to make an action plan for the future.
Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy, and the armed forces are a significant part of the fabric of the city. The partnership report, presented at the 16 February meeting, indicated that there are more than 37,500 people living in Portsmouth who are members of the armed forces community (either currently serving, a veteran, reservist, or immediate family’s members of) and identified that key areas in which support for the community is required include housing, education, and health.
Portsmouth City Council is committed to offering its support, having first signed the Armed Forces Covenant (a promise by the nation recognising the contribution and skills of service personnel and ensuring that they are treated fairly) in 2012, and recently reaffirmed this commitment with a special service in 2022.
The council are now looking at other ways to create a welcoming and attractive environment for the armed forces community which includes continuing to ensure a supportive work environment to veterans, reservists, spouses and adult cadet force volunteers , and revalidating their ‘gold star’ as part of the defence employer recognition scheme.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Chair of the Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership Board and Elected Armed Forces Champion at Portsmouth City Council said:
“We have a long and historic relationship with the armed forces in Portsmouth, and this event demonstrates our serious commitment to supporting local service members, our veterans, and their families.
I am proud that our city recognises the service and sacrifice of so many and am looking forward to seeing the implementation of the ideas discussed today so that we will continue to provide support for the armed forces community at a time when they really need it.”