Armed forces community covenant
Community covenants complement, at a local level, the armed forces covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the nation, the government and the armed forces. The aim of the community covenant is to encourage local communities to support the armed forces community in their area and promote understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the armed forces community. Visit community-covenants-by-region to find information on Community Covenants near you
Many people have become involved in supporting the armed forces community through service charities, or more recently by participating in Armed Forces Day. They have shown their support through fundraising, military celebrations and open days, attending homecoming parades and repatriation ceremonies and offering commercial discounts. Even simple demonstrations of support, such as displaying the Armed Forces Day window sticker in cars and businesses, have had a positive effect and boosted the morale of our armed forces community. The community covenant scheme aims to build on this local level of support.
Aims of the community covenant
Local authorities and the armed forces community are encouraged to work together to establish a community covenant in their area in order to:
- encourage local communities to support the armed forces community in their areas and to nurture public understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the armed forces community
- recognise and remember the sacrifices faced by the armed forces community
- encourage activities which help to integrate the armed forces community into local life
- encourage the armed forces community to help and support the wider community, whether through participation in events and joint projects, or other forms of engagement
Community covenants may look quite different from one location to another. This is a scheme where one size does not fit all, and the nature of the support offered will be determined by both need and capacity
This pledge sets out what a community covenant seeks to achieve in a particular area and, where possible, will be signed by representatives from all parts of the community. In most cases the lead signatories will be a senior representative from the local authority and one from the services who will sign on behalf of the armed forces community, whether that is the local military unit in your areas or those representing veterans’ or families groups.
If you are interested in signing your own community covenant please see the template and guidelines available at community covenant pledge and to stay updated on the work of the community covenant check out our quarterly community covenant e-newsletter
Community covenant achievements
Since we launched the community covenant in June 2011 almost 400 local authorities have signed a community covenant partnership with their local armed forces (that’s some 98%) and we are seeing positive benefits as result. Many local authorities who have signed, or are planning to sign, a community covenant, have an ‘Armed Forces Champion’. The role of a ‘champion’ is often to make sure that the local authority delivers on its commitments to the armed forces community and any blockages in delivery are resolved.
Some of the benefits to the service community from community covenants include:
- prior to the last deployment the community covenant partnership in North Yorkshire designed and delivered a programme called “Lost Worlds” to 150 council staff who were then better able to support families and particularly children and young people more effectively
- Vale of Glamorgan council introduced a new policy of asking customers if they have an armed forces connection when they contact the council in order to ensure that the service community receives all the services they are entitled to and has worked with external partners to provide an online database of support available to the community
- Hampshire County Council are working closely with schools to look at how we spread best practice in the support of service children, and have established a newsletter in order to spread ideas and practical solutions
- DG First Contact was established by Dumfries and Galloway to develop a strategy with key decision makers and service providers in Dumfries and Galloway to support ex-service personnel, with Dumfries and Galloway becoming one of the first regions in Scotland to set up a priority system for re-settling veterans in the social housing sector
- Birmingham Council has a dedicated Armed Forces Housing Officer to support those leaving the services
- Buckinghamshire County Council set up an action plan looking at issues such as using GP groups to help gather information on the armed forces community; ensuring children of service personnel have access to appropriate school places; looking at skill matching armed forces skills to their civilian counterparts; providing links between employers and ex-service personnel
Find out how the Department for Work & Pensions is improving support for members of the armed forces and their families under the Armed Forces Covenant at: Jobcentre Plus services for the armed forces and their families.
Community covenant conference 2013
We held our Community Covenant Conference on 22 November 2013 in association with the Local Government Association, the Welsh Local Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. We had a really successful day with some 200 representatives from the worlds of local government, the armed forces, charities and other stakeholders coming together to share their experience and knowledge of the community covenant.
We heard about some really inspiring new schemes and initiatives from individuals and organisations from around the country as well as sharing good sound practical advice. A summary of the day is being prepared with our next covenant e-newsletter ready for distribution in the New Year. So those of you who applied for a place and were disappointed will still have the opportunity to share in the experience of your peers in taking forward the work of the community covenant.
We are already working on plans to get out and see more of you in the New Year. The Community Covenant Conference made it very clear that there is a real desire to talk through and share the issues facing you all in your day to day work; issues such as how do you know the number and make up of your local armed forces community or dealing with a lack of school places or difficulties with mid-term admissions, for example.
For more information on the community covenant, The Royal British Legion have produced a ‘Best practice guide’.