Pride at prestigious award for supporting our armed forces

The help and support Canterbury City Council gives to those that served or are serving their country has been recognised today (Wednesday 12 July).

The council has been awarded the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award for the backing it gives to the veterans and reservists that work for it and those that live in the community more generally.

Cllr Pip Hazelton, Cabinet Member for Housing and the council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “I am incredibly proud that after a rigorous and independent assessment, the council has been honoured with a Gold Award.

“It means we put the welfare of veterans and reservists at the heart of what we do and demonstrates the fact we’re immensely proud to have former and Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel and reservists working for the council and living in our district.

“We will always owe them a great deal of gratitude for the sacrifices they have made and some continue to make.

“This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of council officers and for the determination of four-times Lord Mayor of Canterbury and long-time council Armed Forces Champion former councillor Pat Todd.”

Examples of the work the council has done includes:

  • ensuring our annual leave and recruitment policies support those who serve as reservists
  • identifying veterans as part of our recruitment processes, including the Career Transition Partnership and Forces Families Jobs, so we can offer them extra help with their application and point them to various sources of support such as The Forces Connect app, the Royal British Legion, SSAFA
  • raising awareness among senior managers of the fantastic skills those that have served, or are serving, hold
  • holding quarterly Armed Forces Covenant meetings which are chaired by our Armed Forces Champion and include veterans and their spouses. These meetings are also attended by SSAFA, RBL, 3PWRR, local organisations who have signed up to the covenant and other service charities. Issues such as housing are discussed and taken back into the council for further investigation if needed
  • carrying out a staff survey to identify veterans or reservists and let them know about the covenant while asking them if they would like support

Cllr Hazelton said: “Our Veterans’ Hub has gone from strength to strength with an average of 20 veterans attending per session.

“Money from Kent Arts and Wellbeing has paid for art sessions and we’ve used money from East Kent Mind for our community wellbeing garden which veterans have been tending alongside young people.

“And more than 240 staff have been involved in Armed Forces Awareness training so they understand the importance of the covenant, what it means and how they can support veterans and reservists.”

The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award, the highest badge of honour, recognises the positive role that employers play in supporting the Armed Forces community.

To win a Gold award from the Ministry of Defence, organisations must provide 10 extra paid days leave for reservists, and have supportive HR policies in place for reservists, veterans, Cadet Force adult volunteers and the spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces.

They must also advocate the benefits of supporting those within the Armed Forces community, by encouraging other organisations to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and engage with the Employer Recognition Scheme.

This year, Marks & Spencer, Motorola Solutions UK Ltd, Hilton and Toyota Manufacturing UK are among the household names that have been recognised.

Published: 12 July 2023

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