Manchester City Council has pledged to continue its support for Manchester's Armed Forces community and has outlined its plans to support current and ex-service personnel and their families in a report to the council’s Executive committee (Thursday 19 December).
The Council has committed to re-sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant and for the first time it will also be signed by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning and the Manchester Local Care Organisation in partnership with Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust, the Royal British Legion (RBL) and Walking With the Wounded (WWTW).
The covenant is a commitment by the council and its health partners to ensure that members of the armed forces and their families are treated equitably and aren’t at a disadvantage when accessing services such as health, housing, employment and skills and education in recognition of the contribution and sacrifice they have made for their country.
The council is also making plans to host an upcoming VE 75 commemorative event which is part of a programme of national commemoration on the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2020 (Friday 8 May).
Training will be given to identify members of the armed forces community to ensure customer facing staff are equipped to support and signpost veterans to the appropriate services. And with the support of the RBL and WWTW, an armed forces awareness training programme will be rolled out and a network of armed forces champions will be developed in all customer facing jobs.
Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council said: “We are really pleased to be reaffirming and enhancing our pledge to put the serving and ex serving members of the Armed Forces and their families at the heart of our plans in the city.
“Inclusivity is part of the Our Manchester way of working and our renewed pledge to align our work and priorities alongside that of our partners, underpins our commitment to ensuring that the needs of the armed forces are recognised. We will continue to work to ensure that we have the right support in place and that we can improve and develop the delivery of services with the armed forces community in mind across the city.
“We want to promote Manchester as an armed forces friendly city, building on the strengths and skills that armed forces personnel have and ensuring that ex service personnel have access to the wealth of opportunities on offer across the city.”
In addition to the local commitment the council is also the lead authority for the Greater Manchester Armed Forces Covenant Programme which aims to promote awareness across public service organisations.
Manchester will continue to work closely with the Veterans Voluntary and Community sector to enhance the support offered to the Armed Forces community through good inter-agency cooperation.
Improving data collection will be key to ensuring that the health and social care needs of the armed forces community are being met as currently this information is not being collected widely. There is a move to ensure that the question whether a person or their immediate family have served in the Armed Forces is widely asked in all public services organisations and will also be included in the 2021 household census. This is already in place in the council's Children's and Families service and Manchester GP Practices have recorded veteran information since 2018.
Manchester's housing policies are already well established in support for service personnel and the social housing allocations scheme already awards additional preference to serving or former members of the armed services and their families.
In 2018 Manchester received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme silver award recognising employer support for the principles of the armed forces covenant and is working towards a gold award in 2020. Arrangements are currently in place to review reservist support policies and recruitment policies which could offer personnel in transition a form of guaranteed interview scheme in the future.
Manchester originally signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2013.