Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today announced the allocation of £1million of extra support to help the successful integration of retired Gurkha soldiers and their families in areas with existing veteran populations.
Rushmoor Borough Council, Kent County Council and The Royal Borough of Greenwich will each receive £200,000 and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council in Warwickshire will receive £50,000 this year to take the lead in developing local projects and support services in their authority and in neighbouring councils. In addition each authority will work with Gurkha charities in developing training to help veterans adjust to life in their new communities and promote better understanding among residents.
The funding builds on £500,000 given to Rushmoor in Hampshire last year to help ease the exceptional pressures placed on health, education and social services in the towns of Aldershot and Farnborough by the arrival of a high number of elderly Nepalese nationals over a short period of time.
Since then the Council, together with the Gurkha Welfare Trust, has been developing ideas to support the wider settlement of retired soldiers and their dependants. Today’s allocation also awards the Council £200,000 to establish a special interest group on Gurkha settlement.
The Council will take the lead in helping local authorities across the country improve their veteran services support and develop a partnership with Citizens Advice to improve local advice for families, which will help to reduce the pressure on the over-stretched Gurkha Welfare Centre in Aldershot. A further £150,000 will be made available for English language support for Gurkhas and their families to help improve their employability and build better community relations.
Eric Pickles said:
We should all feel proud of the immense contribution the Gurkhas have made to the British Army and the tremendous sacrifices they have made for our country. We should also be proud of the good relations fostered between the ex-Gurkhas their families and local communities.
We recognise the continued pressures faced by Rushmoor Borough Council but in giving financial and practical support to other authorities this will help ensure that there are positive choices available to new Gurkha migrants to settle and make an active and positive contribution to life in their new communities.
Peter Carroll founder of The Gurkha Justice Campaign said:
The fact that this money has been found at this difficult time is testament to the commitment of the Government to do all it can to help these fine former warriors and their families to settle in Britain. The effort to make sure this money is spent wisely is a tremendous example of Government departments working together with charities and other agencies to make a positive difference.
William Shuttlewood OBE, Director of The Gurkha Welfare Trust said:
The Gurkha Welfare Trust, the lead Gurkha Charity, welcomes this initiative by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It will provide some much-needed help for local councils and other agencies responsible for providing welfare and other support to ex-Gurkhas seeking settlement in their local communities. The Trust looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with local councils and other agencies not only by providing welfare and other support but also by helping to promote integration within local communities.
Notes to Editors
Parliament has decided that retired Gurkhas who served between 1948 and 1997 would be able to apply to settle in the UK with their families.
The funding of £1.5million fund over two years has been agreed between Communities and Local Government, Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. Each department will contribute £500,000. This was announced on 15 November 2011. Today’s allocation awards Rushmoore Borough Council, Kent County Council and The Royal Borough of Greenwich £200,000 each and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council in Warwickshire £50,000. Each of these authorities will act as lead authorities for their counties, neighbouring counties, and councils. Rushmoor Borough Council will be the lead authority for North Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey and Swindon. The Royal Borough of Greenwich will be the lead authority for London. Kent County Council will be the lead authority for Kent and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council will be the lead authority for the Midlands and South Yorkshire.
Rushmoor Borough Council has also been awarded £200,000 to establish a special interest group on Gurkha settlement to help these authorities improve their veteran services support and develop a partnership with Citizens Advice. A further £150,000 will be made available for English language support for Gurkhas and their families to help improve their employability and build better community relations.
Rushmoor Borough Council have estimated between 6,000 and 12,000 people of Nepalese origin live in the area; the official population of the council area is just over 90,000. This group has an unusual demographic, with large proportions of older people and children. This has increased pressure on social, health and education services (over seven per cent of school children have Nepali as their first language).