Armed Forces Support in the Spotlight
The creation of a Veterans' Walk honouring forces personnel is just one of the initiatives being undertaken in South Tyneside in support of the local armed forces community, members will hear next week.
In plans being developed by National Veterans' Walk charity, the special granite footpath would be made up of personalised stones bearing the names of serving or former members of the armed forces and laid in North Marine Park, South Shields, as a permanent reminder of their proud service.
It is the latest in a series of activities that support with the Armed Forces Community Covenant, which South Tyneside Council signed in December 2011.
The Covenant is a voluntary statement of mutual support between the civilian and local armed forces communities and has been instrumental in helping armed forces personnel, past and present, and their families, to access vital services and ease the transition from service to civilian life. Actions agreed under the Covenant are taken forward and overseen by the Borough's Armed Forces Forum.
Members will receive an overview of work to date and the positive impact it is having on the lives of those serving in and leaving the armed forces at the next meeting of Borough Council, taking placeon Thursday 24 November.
Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of South Tyneside's Armed Forces Forum, said: "The Council has a long-standing history of organising and supporting armed forces related events.
"And since 2011 there has been a significant amount of work undertaken to support the local armed forces community, from implementing policies and awareness raising of the needs of forces personnel to supporting projects and delivering initiatives that make their transition from military to civilian live easier.
"It's important that we ensure the brave men and women in the armed forces community are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.
"We work all year round supporting our armed forces community and recognising their bravery and the sacrifices they make as well as looking at what more we can do to make it as easy as possible for service personnel and their families to get the help they need.
"The report is timely, coming to Borough Council as the Council approaches 11 years of its commitment to the Armed Forces Community Covenant and following a series of poignant parades and services marking Armistice and Remembrance."
South Tyneside Council, and its partners at South Tyneside Homes, proactively support its armed forces, reservists and veterans. Staff across both organisations have received awareness training on the needs of ex-service personnel and signposting to additional support.
The Council also holds the coveted Gold Employer Recognition Award from the Ministry of Defence for its commitment to military personnel and their families, and encourages other organisations and businesses to do the same.
The Borough's Armed Forces 'move-on' accommodation scheme also helps veterans ease back into civilian life, and get access to employment, education or training, and one-to-one support on issues from healthcare and mental health to welfare and benefits, through a dedicated outreach worker. Veterans are also given housing priority status and armed forces personnel receive a discount on their leisure membership.
South Tyneside NAAFI break, run by veterans and civilian volunteers, also provides a face-to-face drop-in service and place to meet, socialise, network and get advice on civilian life.
Further information about the support available for South Tyneside's armed forces community visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/armedforces