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Gold award highlights council's support for armed forces

Gosport Borough Council's support for the local armed forces community has been recognised by a top award from the Ministry of Defence.

The council has won a gold award under the ministry's Employer Recognition Scheme, which highlights organisations that demonstrate exceptional support to military personnel, veterans, reservists, cadets and forces families.

Employers also need to have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant - a promise that those who serve or have served in the British military, and their families, are not disadvantaged by their service.

Cllr Marcus Murphy, the council's Armed Forces Champion and a former member of the armed forces, said: "This is absolutely fantastic news, and a tribute to our team for a job very well done.  

"This award very much highlights the importance the council places on our long historic association with our armed forces, veterans and their families, and the value they bring to our borough.

"It's especially pleasing to win this in the year we've been celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day."

The council's support for the armed forces community includes:

  • extra leave for reservists so they can attend training
  • flexible working for staff whose partners are in the forces, and for cadet force adult volunteers
  • an armed forces staff forum which meets to tackle relevant issues
  • a system to make sure jobs are advertised to service leavers
  • help for members of the armed forces community to apply for jobs and get training
  • backing for Armed Forces Day, including funding, staff time and promotion
  • joint working with many key local organisations, among them the First Light Trust, AlabarĂ©'s Homes for Veterans, the Naval Families Federation and HMS Sultan
  • regional  partnership working with public, voluntary and military organisations as a member of the Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership

Gosport's military history stretches back more than 800 years. It has five military sites, five cadet units and 800 service homes. Members of the armed forces community make up 13% of its total population. 

At least 20% of councillors are veterans, and they have more than 150 years of service in total. At least 30% have a direct link with the armed forces such as having a spouse or child who is a veteran or is currently serving or active in the cadets.

About 3.5% of council employees are veterans and 8% have a direct connection to the armed forces.

To win an award organisations must demonstrate that they provide 10 extra paid days leave for reservists and have supportive HR policies in place for veterans, reserves, cadet force adult volunteers and spouses and partners of those serving in the armed forces. They also must advocate the benefits of supporting those within the armed forces community, encouraging others to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and to engage in the Employer Recognition Scheme.

This year's 127 gold award winners join 226 from previous years, bringing the total to 353 organisations who can share their knowledge and experience on the benefits of employing those from the armed forces community.

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans said: "The breadth and diversity of the winners this year shows how business support for the armed forces continues to grow no matter the sector, company size or location. I am grateful for the positive attitude and flexible policies these organisations have adopted towards the defence community, which is testament to the fantastic contribution our serving personnel, veterans and their families can make to any organisation."

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