Employers across South Tyneside are being encouraged to show their support for reservist employees to mark National Reserves Day tomorrow (Wednesday 21 June).
Reserves Day is an opportunity for both reservists across the UK to show their commitment and employers to recognise and celebrate the vital contribution that their reservist employees make to the UK Armed Forces, their communities and the civilian workplace.
Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, so they are ready to serve as part of the military, whenever they are needed. Reservists make up around 14 per cent of the nation's total defence capacity.
Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of South Tyneside's Armed Forces Forum, said: "Reserves Day celebrates the Reserves Forces, the essential role they play in our Armed Forces and the vital contribution they make in protecting our nation's security at home and overseas.
"It also gives us an opportunity to honour the bravery, sacrifice and services of all those dedicated men and women who give up their spare time to train and serve to protect the UK's security at home and oversees.
"We recognise the valuable contribution reservists make to our Armed Forces, which is why it is really important we do what we can to support them in combining their civilian life and forces duties. Our reservists show great dedication, professionalism and commitment to serving their country and for that we pay tribute.
"We are encouraging South Tyneside businesses to add their support to reservists and the armed forces by signing the Armed Forces Services Community Covenant as well as joining the Ministry of Defence's Employer Recognition Scheme."
South Tyneside Council's reservist employees are given time away from work to carry out their military training with employment protection measures in place should they be mobilised. The Council's housing management partner, South Tyneside Homes, is also currently developing a policy to support staff who are, or want to become, a reservist.
Captain James Foster, of 205 Battery, Royal Artillery, based at Northfield Gardens, South Shields, said: "It's great that South Tyneside Council supports reservists in the work place.
"The support of the employer is critical in the Reservists career and the Regiment remains very grateful for the continued endeavours of the Council to highlight this need and drive this message forward. We should also take time to remember the excellent support the Council offers to ex-service men and women in the Borough of South Tyneside.
"The close relationship that exists between the Battery and South Tyneside Council ensures that there is continued support across the many fields such as Remembrance Day, Armed Forces Day, Recruiting Events and ANZAC Day to name but a few."
One reservist who currently works at South Tyneside Council is Kyle Magee a former regular with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. Kyle became a reservist in January 2016, joining the 201 Field Hospital as a Combat Medical Technician.
Kyle Magee, Armed Forces Community Outreach Worker, said: "Reservist Day is important as it helps to raise awareness of reservists. Not only highlighting the valuable contribution they make to the Armed Forces but also making people aware that reservists are not just people from the office.
"Reservists are highly trained, to the exact same standard as the regular army, and are ready to serve their country whenever they are called upon.
"Balancing civilian life and a career is not easy. It makes all the difference to have an employer who understands the role of a reservist, what is involved and who will support you whether you are at work, going through training or out on deployment."
Among the services in South Tyneside, the Armed Forces Community Outreach Service provides advice on housing, welfare, benefits, training and social services to veterans and reservists in Tyneside.
A NAAFI break drop in, which is run by veterans for ex-servicemen, is also held at 10am, on the first and third Wednesday of the month, at Trinity House, Laygate. The sessions enable veterans to socialise, get advice and training and hear from service charities.
Reserves Day comes only days after the Council, in partnership with the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club, held a military parade, open air church service and family fun day to mark Armed Forces Day.
For information about support for the Armed Forces in South Tyneside visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/armedforces or call South Tyneside Council's Customer Contact Centre on (0191) 427 7000 where staff can signpost to the relevant organisation or team.
Marking Reserves Day is just one of the many ways South Tyneside Council shows its support for serving and former military personnel, veterans and their families.
The Council pledged its support back in December 2011 when it signed the official Armed Services Community Covenant - a voluntary statement of mutual support between the civilian and local armed forces communities. The Covenant encourages respect for the Armed Forces Community and aims to help provide easier access to public services, concessions and discounted private services.
Last year, the Council launched its Ex-Service Personnel and Reservists Employment Project promoting the benefits of employing ex-service personnel and reserves. The project involves a dedicated project worker, who acts as a link between ex-servicemen and reservists with employers and the business community, existing organisations supporting ex-servicemen as well as the community and voluntary sector.
The Council was also awarded the Silver Employer Recognition (ERS) Award from the Minister of Defence last September in recognition of the support the Council provides to military personnel and for inspiring other employers to do the same.