Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
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Wales Office Minister marks Covenant contribution to Welsh Armed Forces community
Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb MP has seen yesterday how serving and veteran members of the Armed Forces Community are being supported across Wales.
Mr Crabb will visit a service centre in Barry run by the Vale of Glamorgan Council before travelling to St Athan to see a Community Covenant Grant Scheme play scheme in action.
The visit coincides with the publication by the Ministry of Defence of the first annual report of the Armed Forces Covenant. The scheme has been designed to ensure current personnel, their families and veterans have access to the services and support they need during and after active service.
The report marks the important contribution made to deliver provisions for the community in Wales, and the good relationships forged with the Welsh Government to deliver healthcare, housing and education services. Crucially, the report also highlights where more work needs to be done.
To mark this important publication, Mr Crabb yesterday visited projects in the Vale of Glamorgan currently providing crucial support to serving and veteran military personnel.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council became the first local authority in Wales to sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant. The scheme provides financial support to local project which strengthen the ties or the mutual understanding between members of the Armed Forces Community and the wider community in which they live.
Mr Crabb will visit the Contact One Vale centre at the Council’s Civic Offices in Barry where he will be met by Councillor Gwyn John, and Tony Curliss, Operational Manager for the centre.
The council has introduced a new policy of asking customers if they have an Armed Forces connection when they contact the council. This has enabled staff to identify and record where demand falls within the Armed Forces Community, especially with regards to health and social care services. The council has also worked with external partners to provide an online database of support available to the community.
Mr Crabb will then travel to St Athan where he will see how Community Covenant Grant Scheme funding has helped to fund a play scheme at the HIVE Information Centre at the base.
The Little Rascals crèche successfully received £32,888 from the scheme in November 2011 to fund a new play area where service children and children from the local community can play together.
Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb said:
“The Armed Forces Covenant marks a significant step forward in this Government’s commitment to support our Armed Forces community. Our personnel, retired or serving, often face difficulties in accessing housing or healthcare. The Covenant intends to put this right and the scheme is playing a critical role in strengthening our communities in Wales.
“It is clear that honouring the Covenant is not simply a role for Government. Local Government and, more importantly, local communities have a major role to play and I am delighted to hear that strong links are being developed in the Vale of Glamorgan.
“Many areas of the Covenant, such as housing and health, fall to the devolved administrations and I am heartened to see such a strong commitment from the Welsh Government to our service personnel in Wales.
“The first annual report on the Armed Forces Covenant has shown that good progress has been made to deliver provisions for the community in Wales and UK-wide.
“However, there is still much work to be done, and this Government remains committed to working with the Welsh Government to ensure the Armed Forces community in Wales continue to have access to the support and benefits they are entitled to.”
Vale Council Leader Cllr Neil Moore said:
“We are committed to doing all we can to support our local Armed Forces community. As a result of signing up to the Community Covenant scheme, the Vale Council has introduced positive measures that are already making a real difference to both the local civilian and Armed Forces communities. I hope that other local authorities will be able to learn from what we have put in place in the Vale.”
Station Commander MOD St Athan, Wing Commander Paul Regan said:
“MOD St Athan is fortunate to sit within an incredibly supportive community in the Vale of Glamorgan, something that I know means a great deal to the serving personnel and their families on this extremely busy Unit.
“The fact that the Vale of Glamorgan Council formalized this support in June 2011 by signing the first Armed Forces Community Covenant in Wales was a highly significant moment and we can see the results of this here today in this superb play facility at the MOD St Athan HIVE.
“By promoting understanding and awareness amongst the public of issues affecting the Armed Forces Community, the Covenant will ensure that the sacrifices faced by the Armed Forces are recognised and that serving personnel and their families are not disadvantaged.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
In June 2011, the UK Government launched the Community Covenant scheme, which is a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community.
The Welsh Government’s Package of Support for the Armed Forces Community was launched in November 2011. This sets out the Welsh Government’s commitments to the Armed Forces Community in Wales on devolved matters.
Seven local authorities in Wales have signed up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant – the Vale of Glamorgan, Anglesey, Powys, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and most recently Rhondda Cynon Taf in November 2012.