Wiltshire has led a successful bid for funding to bring in a range of innovative measures across the south west which will strengthen support and raise awareness of the Armed Forces community across the region. Almost £200k funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund has been awarded to Wiltshire Council alongside partners Cornwall, Somerset, North and South Somerset, Plymouth, Devon and Gloucestershire. The £190,291 awarded will help identify members of the Armed Forces community who are most in need, equip public, private and non-service voluntary organisations to meet those needs, and identify preventative measures. It will also raise awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant across the south west region with an emphasis on training frontline staff and sharing good practice. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation that those serving or have served and their families are treated fairly. The covenant works with businesses, local authorities, charities and community organisations to support the forces through services, policy and projects. The funding will be used for: • Training frontline staff – becoming Armed Forces champions or experts within their own service areas • Researching a Forces Friendly Quality Mark through a pilot scheme which recognises local authority and partners along with businesses and other organisations as being Forces Friendly. This could become a national scheme • An awareness campaign encouraging AFVD (Armed Forces Veterans and Dependants) to identify themselves and offering advice on support • A film to highlight issues around needs, mental ill health and “hidden wounds” • Events across the south west to promote the covenant to the public, community and voluntary sector groups and businesses. This would help raise the number of private companies adopting the Armed Forces Covenant for business • Researching a regional needs assessment to ensure the covenant is being delivered fully. A report on the underlying causes of need will be produced from this • A regional web portal signposting veterans to services in their local area All local authority areas will lead on one of the projects. Wiltshire will lead on inspiring commitment from other public authorities and third sector organisations to work collaboratively with local authorities for the benefit of the south west regional military community. This will include a series of events across the region to raise awareness, as well as establishing a regional best practice network and web portal. Wiltshire Council corporate director Carolyn Godfrey said: “This funding has come at an important time and means we can introduce a range of measures which will ensure we work closer together across the south west to support our Armed Forces community and help increase knowledge, awareness and collective action across the region. “In Wiltshire we are preparing to welcome an additional 4,000 service personnel and their families by 2019 and it’s important we all work together to ensure our veterans and their families are supported and their voices are heard.” In March senior military and civilian leaders from across Wiltshire pledged their commitment to working together to support the Armed Forces communities at the signing of the Wiltshire Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant, which was first signed in 2011, commits Wiltshire Council, businesses and public and voluntary sector organisations to work with the military bringing their knowledge, experience and expertise to provide help and advice to the Armed Forces community. Notes to editors. For more information please contact the Wiltshire Council communications team on 01225 713115/6 or 01225 713370. In Wiltshire there will be an additional 4,000 service personnel and their families due to move here by 2019 as part of the Army Basing Programme. For more details http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/army-basing-mci-partnership Wiltshire’s Military Civilian Integration Partnership was the first of its kind in the UK. In 10 years it has brought together military and public services maximising the economic and social benefits of Wiltshire’s military presence. Organisations involved in the partnership include: Wiltshire Council, the Army’s HQ 1 Artillery Brigade and HQ South West, MOD Boscombe Down, MOD’s Information Service & Systems, DIO, Defence College of Technical Training, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the HCA and the voluntary sector.