Cheshire East Council has been awarded a bronze award for its work with the Armed Forces and ex-service personnel in the borough.
The award is made by the Ministry of Defence through its employer recognition scheme and spotlights the council’s commitment to the Armed Forces and ex-soldiers, sailors and airmen living in the borough.
Cheshire East signed up to the Cheshire, Halton and Warrington armed forces community covenant in 2019 and appointed an Armed Forces champion in former soldier Ashley Farrall, an elected ward member for Macclesfield Central.
The service operates a ‘veterans gateway’, which is a network of organisations across the borough, supporting the Armed Forces community. Many people in the team are forces veterans themselves and are there to help serving and ex-service personnel to access essential services such as housing, family services and job opportunities.
A community covenant working group includes a large number of key organisations, from the police to the NHS, Jobcentre Plus, the local authorities of Cheshire, the Army Benevolent Fund and Combat Stress.
Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for communities, said: “As a former soldier myself and now a cabinet member, I am pleased to have the Armed Forces covenant in my portfolio of responsibilities.
“I am very keen to be part of the process, along with Cllr Farrall, which will see our commitment to the covenant grow over the coming years to show the support we give and recognition we have for our veterans and serving personnel, which is something they thoroughly deserve and need.”
The covenant, which was signed by the council in June 2019, commits the authority to supporting the Armed Forces community and to recognising the value of serving personnel – regular and reservists – veterans and military families and the contribution they make to the country.
The support given extends to bereaved families and loved ones, the injured and to cadet units in schools and in the community.
Cllr Farrall, who served in Iraq and Northern Ireland, spoke recently at the VJ-Day commemoration service at the cenotaph in Macclesfield, about his experience in areas of conflict and the challenges he faced on adjusting to life back home after leaving the army.
He said: “I am proud that Cheshire East Council has now achieved its first award as an Armed Forces covenant employer. This confirms the council’s commitment to the armed forces community in a greater way now and in the future.
“We have dedicated officers working with Cllr Warren and myself, to make sure this is not our last award but, hopefully, the first of many as we continue to build on our success.”
The county of Cheshire has strong ties with the military. The Mercian Regiment, based at Chester Castle, is the successor regiment to the 22nd Cheshire Regiment and 4 Mercian are based in Crewe.
Cheshire East Council’s chief executive Lorraine O’Donnell, said: “As a former Armed Forces champion myself, I am extremely proud of the team for the work they have done here in Cheshire East. We will go from strength to strength, sending a message to our Armed Forces colleagues that we are here to lend support and advice should they need us.”