Representatives from South Lanarkshire Council, partners from the voluntary, business and health sectors, and Armed Forces personnel met yesterday at the council’s headquarters in Hamilton to sign the South Lanarkshire Armed Forces Community Covenant.
And Provosts from East, North and South Ayrshire and representatives from the Ayrshire business, voluntary and health sectors signed their Armed Forces Community Covenant during a formal ceremony at HMS Gannet in Prestwick, also yesterday.
East Ayrshire Provost Stephanie Young, North Ayrshire Provost Pat McPhee and South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan met with Lieutenant Colonel Sandy Fitzpatrick, Commanding Officer of 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, to commit their support to the Covenant which recognises and supports the work of Armed Forces personnel based in Ayrshire.
Other signatories to the Covenant, pledging to work more closely with Service personnel and their families to develop services and enhance existing support, included the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, NHS Ayrshire & Arran and representatives from local voluntary organisations and Armed Forces charities.
These important new agreements build on existing good relations between the Armed Forces and public sector organisations in the two communities.
The aim of the Community Covenant is to encourage organisations across the country to support the Armed Forces community, helping them access any help they might need.
As part of the Covenant members of the Armed Forces are encouraged to do as much as they can to support the communities they live in and promote activities which help integrate servicemen and women into civilian life.
The UK Government launched the Armed Forces Covenant in July 2011, and encouraged the introduction of Community Covenants between civilian communities and the Armed Forces based or living among them.
As part of that launch, the Ministry of Defence set up a Community Covenant Grant scheme.
The aim of the grant scheme is to put the Community Covenant into action and strengthen the ties and mutual understanding between the Armed Forces and the communities in which they work, are based or live.
The grant scheme will consider applications for funding of up to £250,000 for events and activities that improve and enhance the support on offer to Service personnel, veterans and their families.
The Scottish Government has supported the establishment of Community Covenants and encouraged applications for funding.
South Lanarkshire Council Leader Eddie McAvoy said yesterday:
We are all committed to working together to help the men and women in our Armed Forces, and this resolve is strengthened today by signing this important agreement.
The partners will now look at specific projects that can be taken forward in South Lanarkshire as part of the grant scheme.
Representing the Armed Forces at the signing ceremonies in South Lanarkshire and in Ayrshire, Lieutenant Colonel Fitzpatrick added:
The signing of the Armed Forces Community Covenant is a clear indication by South Lanarkshire and Ayrshire of their commitment to increased integration between the community and the Armed Forces.
It is excellent news for everyone serving in, and associated with, the military in South Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. The military have always enjoyed a close working relationship with our local community and this is further evidence of its enduring support.
Ayrshire has one of the highest concentrations of serving and ex-Service personnel in the community and the three councils enjoy very strong relationships with the Armed Forces.
East Ayrshire Provost Stephanie Young said:
Armed Service life means that someone may be serving away from their home area for several years, but will often wish to return to the place where they were born or brought up.
“Re-establishing themselves in the community may involve challenges for them from the perspectives of family, friendships, employment, housing and social welfare. This requires recognition and support and this is why we have signed the Covenant.”
Over 20 local authorities have signed Community Covenants, including Glamorgan, Hampshire, North Yorkshire and Doncaster. Most recently Community Covenants have been signed in Preston, Gateshead and Broxtowe. All 32 Scottish local authorities are due to be signed up by April 2012.
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