As part of the VAPC north east’s commitment to supporting the armed forces community, engaging with key stakeholders and the wider community is an important task for the board. VAPC’s north east representative Michael Potts has been building relationships with stakeholders, and recently attended the regular County Durham Armed Forces Forum on 14 September 2017.
The forum plays a crucial role in helping to develop and integrate a county wide strategy to maximise the help and support given to veterans and the wider community. Councillor Lucy Hovvels, Durham County Council’s armed forces champion, and Mr Gordon Elliott, head of partnerships and community engagement at Durham County, was in attendance, along with other elected council members, military representatives, local and national non profit organisations and the representatives from the emergency services.
The forum discussed a range of topics, including issues affecting veterans within the legal and rehabilitation system, Royal Navy reservists in County Durham, and issues relating to the movement of service personnel and the challenges this brings within the army’s 4th Infantry Brigade Area.
Gender differences in veteran support, and new initiatives to develop support for female veterans were discussed together with the Durham County Council’s continuing work to commemorate World War 1 Victoria Cross holders, and how the wider community can be engaged.
Work was done relating to the regional Armed Forces Outreach Service, which seeks to work with local councils to improve veteran support in County Durham and the surrounding areas.
Further work on Durham County Council’s veteran action plan and covenant fund was discussed, together with an update from the council concerning their plans and issues.
Michael Potts said:
It is important to the VAPC NE as a board to work with others and we feel that this forum is a valuable way in which we can move forward with our mission to support the armed forces community.
To me it is vital that we engage with others at the sharp end of policy as it allows us to work better, and share best practice though the north-east of England. We are the independent voice of the armed forces community and these meetings are important in helping us with our role.