Sports field with goal posts and houses in the distance

Plans for Greater Manchester’s Armed Forces Community unveiled

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has set out plans to shape the future of support for Greater Manchester’s serving and ex-serving members of the Armed Forces and their families.

Mayor Andy Burnham has set out plans to make Greater Manchester the best place in the country for serving and ex-serving members of the Armed Forces and their families to access support.

Representatives from the Ministry of Defence, all three Armed Forces, partner agencies and local authorities joined the Mayor at the inaugural and ground-breaking Greater Manchester Armed Forces Covenant Summit, to discuss the plan and input on the proposals.

The event follows £232,000 of funding provided by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust in 2017 to transform Greater Manchester’s offer to the Armed Forces Community under the Armed Forces Covenant Fund.

At the event, Andy set out the next steps for delivering Greater Manchester’s promises under the Covenant, including help with housing, employment and skills support, and working together to end veteran rough sleeping by 2020. Greater Manchester housing providers also signed the Covenant demonstrating their commitment to enhancing provision for members of the Armed Forces Community.

In 2014, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) became the first city-region to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. One fifth of the armed forces are recruited from North West England, more than any other region in the UK. The commitment of the GMCA and local authorities in Greater Manchester to the Armed Forces Covenant was reaffirmed in June 2017 when it was re-signed.

Speaking at the event, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester is determined to do the right thing by those serving and ex-serving members of the Armed Forces.

“This Covenant really is a gold standard; it presents an opportunity to bring knowledge, experience and expertise to bear on the provision of help and advice to members of the Armed Forces Community. It also presents an opportunity to build upon existing good work on other initiatives.

“Today is the beginning of a journey that will see Greater Manchester join together in partnership to go beyond its current level of provision, and set a new standard in the support that is provided to members of the Armed Forces family through devolution.”

The following commitments have been set out, which will provide a Minimum Guarantee to all veterans in the city-region:

  • Creating a Greater Manchester Armed Forces Homelessness pathway that seeks to end veterans living on the streets by 2020.
  • Launching a Greater Manchester Housing pathway for Armed Forces families that seeks to give commonality of approach to all members of the Armed Forces Community.
  • Deliver a Greater Manchester Reservists policy for local authorities (and other public sector organisations) to sign up to, supporting employees who wish to become, or who are reservists.
  • Setting a standard policy across all local authorities for the Armed Forces Communities which offers a Minimum Guarantee.
  • Delivering a Greater Manchester Cadets strategy.
  • Linking existing data systems with a view to be able to 'flag' members of the Armed Forces family on relevant systems where this will aid service delivery.
  • Develop colleague education and customer facing staff development to act as the first point of contact for members of the Armed Forces Community in need.
  • Create a Greater Manchester Employment and Skills pathway.

Team Leader for the Armed Forces Covenant Team, MOD, Jenna Clare, said:  “The Armed Forces Covenant is both a promise from the nation to ensure our Serving personnel, veterans and their families get a fair deal by removing the disadvantages they may face as a result of their Service and also a partnership between the Armed Forces Community and the wider community that they serve.  The Covenant has made excellent progress since its launch in 2011 and all local authorities across Great Britain have now adopted Covenant pledges to the benefit of both our Armed Forces Community and the wider community. 

“This work can range from the creation of a community playground, to the active promotion of reserve personnel employment, to recognising and benefiting from the transferable skills veterans can bring to local businesses and their community. 

“The progress that we are seeing from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in taking forward the Covenant are excellent examples of what can be achieved when local people and their Armed Forces Community come together in partnership, and we are happy and proud to be here in Manchester today to lend our support and encouragement.” 

The Armed Forces Community is spread amongst the population of Greater Manchester and it exists in every borough. The Covenant is a commitment by local authorities to support members of the Armed Forces Community in their area by ensuring that those that need it, receive the support they need in recognition of their dedication and sacrifice.

The event paved the way for a comprehensive and cohesive plan to transform the way the Armed Forces Covenant is delivered across the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester.

Earlier this month the GMCA approved a £3 million investment in the transformation of Broughton House in Salford, the North West’s sole nursing and residential care home for veterans of the armed forces.

Article Published: 14/12/2018 12:03 PM