More support for armed forces veterans

Official opening of Veterans one-stop shop

Liverpool City Council is set to bid for funding to provide more support for armed forces veterans in the city.

A report to the cabinet meeting on 2 October recommends that an application be made to the government’s Covenant Fund for funding to help former servicemen and women into employment and, in particular, setting up their own businesses.

And, if successful, the funding will also be used to develop a programme to help veterans who have ended up in prison.

These are among a number of measures aimed at supporting former service personnel and strengthening the city’s reputation as a forces-friendly city.

In March 2012 Liverpool became the first area to sign a Community Covenant, encouraging local communities to support the armed forces and promoting public understanding and awareness.

Now the council is being recommended to sign a Corporate Covenant to demonstrate Liverpool’s continued support to the armed forces community and show its commitment through a number of measures which ensure that no service personnel are disadvantaged.

Since signing the Community Covenant a number of initiatives, arranged by the Making It Happen Veterans Group established by the council, have been introduced. These include:

• Establishing the Liverpool Veterans HQ , the first pop-in shop of its type in the country
• Revising the housing waiting list criteria to ensure retiring service personnel are not disadvantaged if they have served outside the city.
• A dedicated addiction centre for veterans
• Setting up the first GP referral protocol in the country
• Piloting of the veterans in custody programme

However, it is recognised that issues facing veterans about employment and enterprise could be improved, especially in relation to business start-ups and skilled employment in areas such as technology and construction.

It is being proposed that more support is given to veterans to acquire skills, knowledge, and expertise through training programmes and help them explore self-employment which could see a minimum of 400 people looking to start up businesses over the next three years and more than 1600 other people benefitting from the training.

It is intended that X-Forces a social enterprise which provides services to the military community will deliver the programme.

It is also being proposed to employ a manager for the Veterans in Custody Programme. Nearly 13% of the prison population are ex-service personnel. A pilot project has been developed with HMP Liverpool to support their families and it is now being proposed to expand the programme so every veteran in custody has a peer mentor.

A bid is to be made for £500,000 over three years from the Covenant Fund, established by the government to fund these programmes with the council making a £50,000 contribution to the employment programme.

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “Liverpool has always fully supported the armed forces. We recognise the debt our city and country owes to these men and women.

“We were the first council in the country to sign the Community Covenant and backed that up with practical actions such as the establishment of the centre in Breck Road which provides advice and help on issues such as housing, education and jobs.

“We are going to sign the Corporate Covenant as a public demonstration of our continued support for the armed forces and make service personnel aware that they will receive help in practical ways.

“But we also want to build on what we have already delivered. There are issues over employment  and  a major way we can help deal with these is supporting some veterans into self-employment, not only is it good for them as individuals  but new start-up businesses are a great boost to the city’s economy.

“And unfortunately, a disproportionate number of former service personnel find themselves in prison, for whatever reason. We are looking to support their families and help in their rehabilitation.

“Hopefully our bid to the Covenant Fund will be successful so we can expand the ways we help former service men and women.”

Pictured is Mayor Anderson at the opening of the veterans centre in Breck Road.