The new unitary authorities of Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council have signed the Dorset Armed Forces covenant.
The covenant is a pledge to treat those who serve or who have served in the armed forces and their families with fairness and respect in their communities, economy and society they serve with their lives.
Dorset has a large military presence, with 3,150 serving personnel across 4 bases. It is estimated there are around 1,575 spouses and 2,389 children related to those personnel.
The county is also home to two per cent of the UK’s veterans. The total number of members of the Armed Forces Community in Dorset is more than 100,000, around 12.9% of Dorset’s 771,900 population. This means that at least 1 in every 7 people in Dorset should have the capability to benefit from the provisions of the Armed Forces Covenant.
Cllr David Walsh, Dorset Council’s Member Champion for the Armed Forces and Chairman of the Armed Forces Covenant Programmes Board., said:
“Having had personal experience of being a member of the Royal Air Force I know how important it is that third sector support is not only available to Dorset’s vast Armed Forces Community, but that all information, services and support available is better understood and promoted, assisted through our one-stop-shop Veterans and Armed Forces Family Information points based in our local libraries.
“I feel a huge sense of relief that finally, through working closely with partners across Dorset, more is being done to support our local military community and that we are delivering on our promise, ‘to ensure that all those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly”.
Dorset has a two-year MoD Funded Programme to delivery of specific projects identified to support the Armed Forces community across Dorset.
Cllr Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said:
“I am delighted to officially show BCP Council’s commitment by the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant. It is really important we all do our part in treating serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families within the BCP area with fairness and equity. They are a valued part of the community and we will do all we can to ensure local services can best meet their needs.”
The main partners in this programme are Dorset Council. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, Dorset HealthCare University Foundation Trust, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Dorset.
The overarching aim of the programme is to raise the profile of and to embed the Covenant in the day to day activities of all partner organisations across Dorset, ensuring that all members of the armed forces community are treated fairly and equitably.
The programme will oversee the formation of 13 Family Information points primarily located within libraries that will allow access to information and advice to the Armed Forces community across the whole of Dorset.