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06 Dec 22. Local services for military community criticised in new report. A new report has criticised the local services for members of the Armed Forces community in the UK, as part of the Armed Forces Covenant.
It examines how local authorities can reduce the disadvantages experienced by members of the military community.
The report is called A Decade of the Covenant: A review of delivery and impact of 10 years of the Armed Forces Covenant.
The report, by Shared Intelligence, was commissioned by Forces in Mind Trust, a body that works to enable ex-service personnel and their families to make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life.
The covenant is a pledge from the Government to “treat members of the British Armed Forces and their families with fairness and respect”.
Enshrined in law by the Armed Forces Act, the covenant focuses on helping members of the Armed Forces community have the same access to Government and commercial services and products as any other citizen and are not disadvantaged by their military service.
The new report found that while the covenant has helped members of the Armed Forces community, there are still areas where disadvantages remain.
For serving personnel, this includes impact on children’s education, access to healthcare, and spousal employment.
For those leaving the military, a lack of awareness by frontline staff of the potential challenges they face when accessing housing and employment after service remains, the report said.
Veterans are reportedly facing disadvantages when accessing housing and healthcare.
A new statutory Covenant Duty came into force on 22 November and recommends that councils work with each other to improve awareness-raising and training for frontline staff.
Local councils are now legally obliged to consider the military community when making decisions.
The new report calls for help for members of the Armed Forces community in understanding how the covenant can address any disadvantages they face in public services.
The work being done by the Armed Forces Covenant already, the report urges, must be built upon, and not undermined by the new duty.
It also stresses the need to increase awareness of the covenant and how it is being delivered to the people who need it.
The document says the impact of the Defence Transition Services is to be evaluated so that people likely to experience problems are helped as soon as possible.
The MOD says it will review any potential new burdens or costs for councils, although there is no new Government funding attached to the act.
The report’s authors say it should act as a critical friend, holding councils and other service providers accountable locally for the delivery of the covenant.
Helen Helliwell, Director of Armed Forces People Policy at the Ministry of Defence, said: “I welcome this latest report, which adds deeply to our knowledge of how the covenant is being delivered across the whole of the UK.
“Since the first of these reports was published, many councils have embraced the recommended methods of having both a dedicated councillor champion and lead officer, to work together to deliver the spirit and letter of the covenant.
“I hope now that this approach is more widely adopted in councils across the UK and look forward to continuing to work together to improve the lives of our Armed Forces community.” (Source: forces.net)
02 Dec 22. Ex-forces team recreate Cockleshell Hero expedition for charity. A group of ex-servicemen are set to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Frankton, a daring World War II mission, by retracing the kayaking route of ten Royal Marines to raise money for three Armed Forces charities. Their expedition, supported by funding from BAE Systems, will see them kayak 80 miles across France before completing a 100-mile hike.
Operation Frankton saw 10 men, known as the Cockleshell Heroes, take part in an extraordinary commando raid using kayaks to plant mines and attack enemy ships in German-occupied France in December 1942. They managed to damage six vessels in the port of Bordeaux, leading to wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill claiming their mission shortened the war by six months.
Only two men returned from the heroic operation but the legacy they created was enduring, as it’s widely recognised this operation resulted in the formation of the Special Boat Service (SBS) branch of the Royal Navy.
The team retracing the Cockleshell Heroes’ mission have named themselves ‘Cockleshell 22’, and have raised £25,000 so far. This will be split between three charities which support the Armed Forces: Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion and the RMA – Royal Marines Charity. The largest sponsor, BAE Systems, has also provided £5,000 of funding to the team. BAE Systems’ employees were alongside the Cockleshell team in the water to support their mission departure today, in the very latest military small boat, the StormBlade® 850.
Steve Martindale, Cockleshell 22 team member and former Royal Marines Commando, said: “This mission will test us in every way. As we are all former Royal Marines or connected to 3 Commando Brigade, the anniversary and history of the Cockleshell Heroes is instilled from the start of our life in the Corps. We felt it had to be marked in this way and will never forget what the team of 10 men, 8 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, did for our country 80 years ago and how their ingenuity and bravery created what we know as the SBS today. We wanted to raise whatever funds we could, to give back to three brilliant charities that do such amazing work for the Royal Marines and the wider Armed Forces community.
“I can’t believe what started out as a bit of a chat between three old friends turned in to a fully planned expedition with support from the Royal Marines family. We also can’t thank BAE Systems enough for their donation and for giving us major support getting the word out. Without them, we would not be able to do it.”
The Cockleshell 22 team will use collapsible kayaks, similar to the originals used back in 1942. They will paddle overnight through France for five nights as the Cockleshell Heroes would have done. They will then follow a 100-mile extraction route from Blaye to Ruffec on foot over six days, attending commemorations in Bordeaux in between.
Scott Jamieson, Managing Director, Maritime Services, BAE Systems, said: “For decades, we have proudly supported the Royal Navy and its fleet from Portsmouth, including as suppliers of their small boats. It’s only fitting that we support the Cockleshell 22 team as they commemorate the heroic acts of those who served and protected our nation.”
Mark Elliott, Chief Advocacy Ambassador at Help for Heroes, said: “Eighty years ago, a small group of brave heroes undertook one of the most heroic operations of World War Two. To commemorate this extraordinary operation, to remember this incredible courage and bravery, an inspirational group of former servicemen are going to trace their extraordinary journey.
“There can be no better way of honouring the original Cockleshell Heroes than raising money for fellow servicemen and women, who have also served their country. To ensure that those who return from conflict, or suffered as a result of their service, are looked after is of vital importance. I salute both those heroes who did their duty and never returned 80 years ago, and those who once again take up this incredible challenge to help others, thank you.”
Simon O’Leary, Director of the Poppy Appeal at the Royal British Legion, said: “Operation Frankton was one of the most audacious and intrepid operations of the Second World War and this recreation is a wonderfully imaginative way to honour those brave individuals whilst raising funds for several armed forces charities.
“The Royal British Legion is delighted to have been chosen as one of the organisations to benefit from this expedition, particularly as we have been directly involved in supporting some of the people taking part. We wish Cockleshell 22 every success and we salute those men who faced incredible danger and made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf 80 years ago, risking everything to accelerate the end of the War.”
In wishing the Cockleshell 22 team good luck for their epic challenge, RMA – The Royal Marines Charity Fundraising Manager, Vicki Drinkwater, added: “On behalf of the whole Royal Marines Family, you make us so proud – and we can’t thank you enough for including us in your fundraising.
“Without such dedicated support, the Charity would not be able to continue its vital work. We wish you fair weather and will of course be following you every step of the way.”
You can follow the progress of the Cockleshell 22 expedition on their Facebook page throughout their mission from 2 to 18 December.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, the currently serving (both regulars and reserves), veterans from the Second World War and those who have served in more recent conflicts, as well as their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.