Broxtowe Borough in Nottinghamshire showed its support for the local Armed Forces yesterday by signing up to the Community Covenant Scheme. Report by Lorraine McBride.
The Community Covenant was signed by representatives from the Broxtowe Borough Partnership, Voluntary Action Broxtowe and the borough’s civilian community.
Brigadier Andrew Williams, Commander 49 (East) Brigade, based at Chetwynd Barracks in Chilwell, together with representatives from the Services in Nottinghamshire, reciprocated on behalf of the Army.
The first Community Covenant, a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community, was signed in Oxfordshire in June 2011.
It followed the publication of the Armed Forces Covenant in May 2011 which outlined the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces and aims to improve support to the Armed Forces Community (which includes serving personnel, their families and veterans). See Related News.
One of the key measures of the Armed Forces Covenant was the launch of a Community Covenant Scheme whose aims include:
- to encourage local communities to support the Armed Forces Community in their areas, and vice-versa
- to promote understanding and awareness amongst the public of issues affecting the Armed Forces Community
- to recognise and remember the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces Community
- to encourage activities which help to integrate the Armed Forces Community into local life.
Leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, Councillor Milan Radulovic, said:
Broxtowe Borough Council is committed to fulfilling the aims of a Community Covenant to remember the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces Community, particularly those who have given the most.
I believe that this Community Covenant will help link our local forces and the wider community in which they live and work to reinforce the Council’s message and bring people together.
To date, 22 local authorities have signed Community Covenants, including Glamorgan, Hampshire, North Yorkshire and Doncaster. All 32 Scottish local authorities are due to be signed up by April 2012.
All local authorities in the UK are provided with guidance and encouraged to establish a Community Covenant in their area. If a local authority has not yet established a Community Covenant then other members of the community can encourage them to do so.
Not every local authority will be able to extend the support they already give to the military community while budgets are being stretched to the limit.
However, the establishment of civil/military partnerships is an excellent low-cost way to demonstrate support for the military and helps raise awareness of the needs of the Armed Forces. This would ensure that the needs of the Armed Forces Community are considered in planning services, such as changes to public transport routes.
Community Covenants may vary widely in different towns or villages. The MOD stresses that the scheme is not one where ‘one size fits all’ and the range of support will depend on both need and capacity.
It is expected that most Community Covenants will be led at local authority level, however this does not rule out unitary authorities and individual towns who may wish to have a Community Covenant and this will be supported. The aim is to encourage as many areas as possible to adopt the Community Covenant.
In August 2011 the MOD launched the Community Covenant Grant scheme which invites communities to apply for funding to run projects which strengthen the bonds between the Armed Forces and the public.
The MOD has set aside £30m over four financial years to help communities fund suitable projects. The grant scheme considers applications for funding between £100 and £250,000 to be spent on projects which promote closer ties with or a greater understanding of the military in the local community.
Kitty Jenkins from the MOD’s Armed Forces Covenant Team said:
Applications for grants go through local authorities who have signed a Community Covenant. The local authority then submits the applications it endorses to our panel. Examples include military exhibitions, one-off activities involving the Armed Forces and young people or community outreach projects.
If individuals approach military personnel for advice regarding funding for community projects, they should refer them to their unit commanding officer. However, all applicants for grants must demonstrate benefits to both the Armed Forces and the civilian community but the MOD will only foot the bill for one-off projects.
Local authorities have been invited to make contact with military units in their local areas, where contacts don’t already exist. However the Armed Forces Community can also initiate establishment of a Community Covenant.