Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy, and the armed forces is a significant part of the fabric of the city. At the last estimate over 37,000 people living in Portsmouth were members of the armed forces community (either currently serving, a veteran, reservist, or immediate family’s members of) – that is about 18% of the population.

We recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by members of the armed forces community, and the unique skills and attributes they bring to our workplace. We are proud to have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and supporting our armed forces community is a part of our corporate plan.

Armed forces covenant employer recognition scheme logo

The Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

Those who serve in the armed forces, whether regular or reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.

This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes statutory, voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the armed forces.

The issue the covenant is addressing is the fair and equal access to goods, services, information and support whether from statutory, voluntary or commercial organisations.

This means:

  • ensuring that service personnel, ex-service personnel and their families are NOT disadvantaged through military service
  • ensuring a level playing field so that there is equal access to any form of service or support or information
  • special consideration is given on a case-by-case basis and is at the discretion of the organisation providing it.

The Armed Forces Act, which gained Royal Assent in Parliament on 15 December 2021, enshrined the Armed Forces Covenant in law for the first time. The Armed Forces Act delivers a series of improvements and places a duty on public bodies including councils, the Police and Primary Health Care providers to uphold the covenant principles.

Every year the Government publishes a report detailing its progress to strengthen delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant. You can read the national annual report on the government’s website.

You can find out more on the Armed Forces Covenant website.

The armed forces community

The Armed Forces community is made up of:

  • those serving in HM Armed Forces or Armed Forces Reserves: the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force and the Regular Army plus their constituent reserves
  • ex-Service Personnel (‘veterans’). those who have served at least one day in HM Armed Forces as a regular or reservist, or Merchant Mariners who were part of a legally sanctioned operation
  • their dependants including partners, spouses, children (even grown-up children if they are still living at home) and other dependent family members who are living in the household.
  • the bereaved: the immediate family of service personnel and ex-service personnel who have died, whether or not that death has any connection with service.

Portsmouth’s armed forces community

Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy, and the armed forces is a significant part of the fabric of the city. At last estimate over 37,000 people living in Portsmouth were members of the armed forces community (either currently serving, a veteran, reservist, or immediate family’s members of) – that is about 18% of the population.

In November 2022 there were:

  • 943 service children registered in Portsmouth schools
  • 9,278 veterans living in Portsmouth (estimated)
  • 7,600 regular serving personnel based in Portsmouth

The Royal Navy makes an estimated £450m contribution to Portsmouth’s economy.

Solent Armed Forces Partnership Board

Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport and the Isle of Wight are signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant and in 2016 these local authorities came together to form the Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership Board (SAFPCB). In 2023 Havant Borough Council joined the SAFCB.

The Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership worked together to understand the needs of this community in the Solent region. You can view the full needs assessment and see an infographic about our work. The partnership have created an action plan to continue to deliver for the armed forces community. View the action plan.

Find out more about our partnership.

Our commitment

Portsmouth City Council is committed to supporting the armed forces community and first signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2012 as a promise to recognise the unique sacrifices that they make to support the nation and ensure that no member of the armed forces community should face disadvantage compared to other citizens.

The council reaffirmed its commitment in June 2022 by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant at a special event at HMS King Alfred.

We fly flags outside the civic offices in Guildhall Square to show our commitment to the armed forces. As part of our commitment the council hosts events throughout the year that residents and staff are welcome to attend.

We make sure our commitment is reflected in the services that we deliver, and we ask providers to do make the same commitment when they deliver services for us.

We provide work experience and have supportive polices for our armed forces staff.

Businesses – show your support

Over 10,000 businesses nationally have pledged their commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Portsmouth City Council contracts include a Consideration of the Covenant clause. This clause outlines our expectations that our providers demonstrate their commitment to the armed forces community by signing the covenant and showing consideration of the armed forces community within the services they deliver.

If you are a business or organisation Sign the covenant

If you have any questions or want to find out more information about the covenant, please email armedforcesSPOC@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

Access our services

We provide a range of services to residents and support for the armed forces community is embedded within these services. We are currently updating our local offer pages for housing, children and families (including education) and health.

If you have any questions or want to find out more about how the covenant applies within specific circumstances, please email armedforcesspoc@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Work for us

We recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by members of the Armed Forces community, and the unique skills and attributes they bring to our workplace. We are committed to ensuring better access to employment opportunities, support, mentoring, and work placements for transitioning personnel, reservists, veterans, and partners of serving personnel and veterans, and adult cadet force volunteers. We are doing this in a range of ways:

  • We are members of the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme, and we actively encourage other employers to engage in this scheme.
  • We provide 10 days paid special leave to reservists to undertake required annual training without sacrificing their annual leave.
  • We provided up to 45 hours per year special leave for adult cadet force volunteers to undertake required annual training without sacrificing their annual leave.
  • We can provide flexible working to partners/spouses of serving personnel to help them manage periods of deployment.
  • We have a special leave policy to support partners/spouses of veterans and serving personal to help manage sickness and/or injury.
  • We have an armed forces staff network who meet and receive targeted covenant updates.
  • We provide work experience and mentorship to members of the armed forces community.
  • Our own induction process for new council employees includes information about the Armed Forces Covenant and the key commitments we are working to uphold
  • We advertise our vacancies with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Forces Families Jobs (FFJ)

Our employees share their thoughts

Capt John Pearce did a placement with the through care team at Portsmouth City Council:

“I served 24 years in the Army and felt ready to start a new career. In the Army I was an instructor with a focus on coaching and developing young people to reach their full potential. Portsmouth City Council could see that my service had given me experience in managing complex issues. They offered me work experience with the Through Care Team. In this role I used my skills with young people who had experienced trauma. It was really rewarding and led to me a getting full time paid position in the team. I am now employed as a full-time reservist with the experiences gained within the through care team added to my skill set. I would recommend a work placement like the one I had to anyone leaving the forces.”

Helen is a communications and engagement officer (health & social care), at Portsmouth City Council:

“Portsmouth City Council has gone above and beyond in enabling me to maintain my own career while supporting my partner. By being able to work mainly remotely with monthly visits to the office I have been able to move with him to where he is posted, while keeping my own job. I am very grateful to my colleagues and the council for their flexibility and understanding which has made things really easy for us.”

Other support

We know that successful employment is more likely if other key areas are also addressed. We also offer the armed forces community support with access to healthcare, education, family well-being, and having a home. In addition to the council, there are a number of local services that can support you with employment and finance; you can find more information about this in Access our Services and Other Support sections.

Our partnership

Portsmouth, Southampton, Havant, Gosport, Fareham and Isle of Wight councils have a partnership approach to delivering the covenant within the Solent region of the wider county of Hampshire. Entitled Strengthening Local Covenant delivery, the aim of this partnership is to:

  • Raise awareness among serving personnel, reservists, and veterans of the support they can expect from local authorities.
  • Provide a broader understanding of the needs of the local veteran population as well as serving personnel during transition to civilian life.
  • Evaluate the impact of these initiatives.

The Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership Board representing Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport, and Havant and the Isle of Wight Civil Military Partnership Boards, provides strategic governance for local delivery of the covenant.

Meeting dates and reports

Details of meetings will be added here.

Work with partners

We are proud to work in partnership with many organisations to strengthen locally delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant. Find out more about the work and offer of other local organisations here:

Shaping Portsmouth

Veterans Outreach Support

Portsmouth Hospital Trust Veteran Aware

Solent NHS Armed Forces Programme

South East Reserve Forces and Cadet Association

Other support

The Veterans Gateway

The Veterans Gateway launched in 2017 can put veterans and their families in touch with the organisations best placed to help with the information, advice and support they need – from healthcare and housing to employability, finances, personal relationships and more.

We have been working with organisations across the Solent to add local service information to the Gateway.

Veterans gateway logo

Drop-in Services

Meeting up with like-minded people is a good way to get peer support and access other services. There are several places you can do this locally:

Veterans Outreach Support

This monthly drop-In is a welcoming and relaxed place for UK veterans and their direct family members to come for confidential welfare or psychological support or simply to meet for a sociable chat.  You do not need to make a prior appointment – just drop-in.

Age UK Portsmouth Veterans Breakfast Club

Takes place on the second Friday and the last Friday of every month from 10am to 12pm at the Bradbury Centre. All ex-service personnel are welcome to come along, together with their partners, to socialise with other veterans, take part in the banter and enjoy a great breakfast.

Family Hubs

Family hubs are where our early help and prevention team provide some of their support to families, as well as where our behaviour management surgeries and groups are delivered. These used to be called children’s centres but have been expanded to include help for children and young people up to 19 years. All families, including service families are welcome in our family hubs.

Home-Start for Forces Families

Home-Start helps armed forces families with children up to 12 years old, particularly at times of heightened anxieties. These might include key transition points of rebasing, deployment and transition. In Portsmouth their RNRMC project includes a weekly stay and play session. This gives a space for parents to meet others while children enjoy weekly activities and play.