As a county, Hampshire has the second largest military community in England with around 20,000 serving personnel, and the second highest proportion of veterans with 60,000 living in the county.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “We place enormous value on our close relationship with our military services, and this week’s raising of the Armed Forces Day Flag in Winchester is a visual signal of our strong support for our Armed Forces communities. Members of our Armed Forces have shown their commitment to public service – it’s only right that we show our appreciation.”
Councillor Andrew Joy, Executive Member for Communities, Partnerships and External Affairs, and Armed Forces Champion, said: “Hampshire County Council was one of the first local authorities to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, to ensure those who serve or have served are treated fairly. It’s a promise we take very seriously. We and our partners are delighted to receive funding for these projects, to further embed the Covenant in to our culture, to help integrate Armed Forces and civilian communities, and deliver valuable local community services.”
The projects include:
- £320,000 for a two-year project to ensure staff at local authorities in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent are ‘Forces aware and Forces friendly’. This includes better referrals to public and charitable services, employment support for service leavers and reservists, strengthening the role of councillors and officers as Armed Forces champions and wider promotion and commitment to the Covenant across local authorities.
- £73,000 for a two-year project to deliver Mental Health First Aid training to local authority staff, particularly housing teams, benefits teams and reception staff and community sector partners. The training aims to reduce stigma around mental health, to improve access to services and reduce inequalities in health for Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
- £20,000 for a one-year ‘Festival of Friends’ project with the University of Winchester as the lead to help better integration of civilian and Armed Forces children in Hampshire schools. This will be achieved through themed ‘military days’ and visits from military personnel to talk about their experiences, culminating in an awards and celebration event to promote better understanding.
- £20,000 for a one-year project with volunteers to deliver targeted sessions in Aldershot and Gosport libraries and in the towns’ pre-schools and schools which have a high proportion of Armed Forces children. The project will help military families access community based services, support integration and reduce social isolation.
Further details and delivery of the projects will be developed over the coming weeks.