Chamber pledges to help Armed Forces

Published Monday, 10th February 2014
The armed forces covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant signed document

The Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce is to become the first business to sign up to Rotherham's Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.

On Tuesday 11 February, the Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr John Foden, together with the Leader of the Council, Cllr Roger Stone, will be present when representatives from the Chamber will sign the Covenant - pledging to help members and ex-members of the Armed Forces.

Dominic Beck, External Affairs Executive of the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber was proud to be leading the way on the new development. 

He added, "The Corporate Covenant is geared to encouraging businesses to sign up to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. It means that we promise to ensure that those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether regular or reserve, and those who have served in the past together with their families, will face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services."

The Corporate Covenant is the latest development in the Armed Forces Community Covenant, which was initially signed in Rotherham in January 2012.

The public promise of support to members of the armed forces, both past and present, was signed by various partner organisations on behalf of the people of Rotherham.

The Community Covenant is a voluntary two-way statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces community. It is aimed at encouraging support for members of the Armed Forces Community living and working in the area, including ex-service personnel, their families and widows and widowers.

It provides an opportunity for the Council and its partners to work together to make the transition easier for military personnel integrating back into civilian life.

The Rotherham Community and Corporate Covenants complement the Armed Forces Covenant published by the government in June 2011. That outlined the moral obligation between the nation, the government and the Armed Forces at a local level, and stated the Armed Forces community should not be disadvantaged compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.

Research has shown that returning to civilian life can be daunting for those who have spent even a short time in the Armed Forces, as all their welfare needs such as housing, education and health matters are met by the Ministry of Defence. In order to assist this transition into civilian life, the government's Covenant Taskforce made a number of recommendations, including councils creating their own 'Community Covenant' to ensure they meet the obligations to the local Armed Forces community.

A multi-agency working group was established by the Council, geared to identifying and addressing issues relating to ex-service personnel and their families. The working group included representatives from all the relevant Council services such as housing, education, transport and benefits, as well as from the health service, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the local business and voluntary sectors.

Cllr John Doyle, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said he was delighted to see the the launch of the Covenant.

He said, "The launch of the Community Covenant has seen many really good changes instigated in Rotherham and we hope that the Corporate Covenant will continue with this excellent work. All credit must go to the Chamber for leading the way and we hope to see many more local businesses sign up to this. It will mean that the difficult transition period for forces personnel when they leave the Armed Forces and return back to Civvy Street will be made that much easier."

There is no data to show the number of ex-military personnel and their families in Rotherham - an issue that is replicated country-wide. However, the Ministry of Defence states that that one-in-six of the local population will be ex-military. This means that the ex-military population in Rotherham is 15,276, based on the 2010 mid-year estimated population of 254,605.

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