Community, voluntary sector and armed forces leaders gathered at Endeavour House to sign a landmark agreement pledging support for Suffolk’s armed forces community of serving personnel, Veterans, their families and widow(er)s working and living in Suffolk.
The Community Covenant declares mutual support and practical help for forces personnel and their families and is part of a £30 million national scheme, launched by the Ministry of Defence, to strengthen the bonds between the military and civilian communities.
The funding will be used to support projects across the UK, such as support to veterans, raising GP awareness of combat stress and raising public awareness of service family life and deployments overseas.
Speaking on behalf of the armed forces in Suffolk, RAF Honington station commander group captain Andrew Hall, said:
Suffolk has always been a stalwart supporter of its local military personnel and their families, past and present. We are extremely grateful and proud of the strong support we already have from the people and institutions of Suffolk and the signing of the Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant only serves to reinforce these existing bonds.
I look forward to working together to ensure that military personnel, veterans and their families have the support they need and also that the armed forces play their part in the community in which they live and work.
Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader, said:
We owe a great debt to the armed forces men and women who sacrifice so much for us. It’s therefore our duty as local authority and community leaders to ensure we provide the services and help they, and their families, need.
Today is an important day in Suffolk’s long history of support for the armed forces. I hope it will serve as reminder of what they give to this country and a poignant symbol of our sincere gratitude in return.
Following the covenant signing, the Wattisham Military Wives Choir performed two songs.
Councillor Ray Herring, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s leader, said:
Suffolk Coastal has enjoyed long and significant links with our armed forces, and Woodbridge Garrison has played an important and active role in our community, including being members of the Suffolk Coastal Local Strategic Partnership and its hosting and strong support of our Operation Camouflage summer activity for young people. Our own district's covenant with the Army was a public and very welcome confirmation of the important and growing relationship between the Army and our communities, and I hope the countywide one will help cement those links.
The next step will be to appoint a Suffolk armed forces commissioner who will act as a key link between the county’s military communities, local authorities and voluntary organisations signed up to the covenant. The commissioner will be charged with leading the work agreed as part of the covenant.