Recent initiatives supporting our Armed Forces community in 2019-20

Highlights of recent initiatives supporting our Armed Forces community in 2019-20.  To request a copy of Herefordshire’s Armed Forces Covenant Partnership annual report email hafc@herefordshire.gov.uk

Healthcare

  • 9 out of the 22 Herefordshire GP practices are now accredited Veteran-Friendly under the Royal College of GPs and NHS England scheme.   This ensures they have pledged to recognise and assist Armed Forces veterans and their families with accessing healthcare in Herefordshire.
  • Work continues with the Wye Valley NHS Trust who are committed to recognising the issues veterans and Armed Forces families may face accessing healthcare and brokering case conferences for military families whose children have specific health needs.  Work is also underway for the Trust to gain accreditation as a member of the Veterans Hospital Covenant Alliance.
  • After securing additional funding, the post of Welfare Officer for the Defence Medical Welfare Service, has been extended for a further two years to continue to assist veterans in hospital and help with their return home after treatment.

Mental health

  • The Herefordshire Veterans and Families Mental Health Network has continued regular meetings both before and during the pandemic to bring together organisations who are seeing clients with specific mental health issues and understanding how that can be addressed;.
  • Mental Health services in Herefordshire is now delivered by Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, who have a dedicated Veterans mental health practitioner.
  • Funding for the Veteran Drug & Alcohol Worker delivered by We Are With You ended in June 2020. Thanks to collaborative working through the Veterans Mental Health Network additional funding has been secured to continue this role as a permanent post.
  • The Cart Shed at Norton Canon continues to deliver vital veterans programmes in their outdoor therapy environment and have been awarded further funding to continue their work which supports the mental health and wellbeing of their veteran clients.

Housing

  • The veteran self-build project based in Leominster is due to be completed by end of 2020 on land transferred from Herefordshire Council to Stonewater Housing. Nine veterans, a number who were homeless, have been working alongside developers, Harpers, supported by homeless charity, Alabare.  A total of 19 homes have been built all of which will be offered to veterans which is more than the nine originally envisaged. The veterans have obtained construction qualifications whilst building their own homes, with the remaining to be advertised through HomePoint and Stonewater specifically for the Armed Forces community.
  • Working in partnership with the Buchanan Trust, Herefordshire Council have provided grant funding to match funds received from Home England to enable the development of 4 additional dwellings for veterans. The Trust offers rural housing and training & work experience for veterans on their farm estate at Bosbury.
  • Herefordshire’s Housing Allocations Policy was updated in June 2020.  The new policy makes access to the waiting list for the Armed Forces community clear and accessible and is in line with the Armed Forces Covenant guidance.

Education

  • There has been an increase in the number of local Service children and schools accessing the Service Pupil Premium (SPP), as a result of better liaison with schools. Schools have also been alerted to the MOD’s Educational Support Fund.
  • Herefordshire Council’s Education Team continues to assist with school applications for military children.  They have also been facilitating appropriate provision for Service children to apply for Education Health and Care Plans.

Employment and training

  • A local co-ordinated approach is now in place linking local employers and training opportunities to Service leavers and the veteran community.
  • Bespoke CPD training programmes has been developed in partnership with NMITE and Herefordshire Group Training to support transition, skills, work experience and progression to civilian qualifications.  Both ELCAS approved. 
  • Referral pathways are in place to Building Better Opportunities programme delivered by Landau to support those with complex needs back into employment.
  • Work is underway in partnership with NMITE to create a Military 2 Business recruitment fair for the local armed forces community in summer 2021 (postponed this year due to COVID-19).
  • Ongoing discussions with the Enterprise Zone re: value of veterans in the workplace, together with new business growth opportunities with The Centre for Cyber Security and Shell Store Incubation Centre, both based at Rotherwas, Hereford.

Herefordshire’s Veteran Support Centre (VSC)

  • The VSC opened in Nov 2019 thanks to generous help from the local business and voluntary community.  It was due for a formal opening in March 2020 but the covid-19 pandemic impacted .Based in West Street, Hereford, it offers a friendly street level drop-in with flexible and accessible spaces for meetings and workshops.
  • The Centre works closely with military charities and a range of local service providers to help people find the right kind of support to meet their needs.
  • At the start of the pandemic the Centre co-ordinated a 20 strong volunteer group recruited from the armed forces community to support our most vulnerable veterans.  In partnership with Defence Medical Welfare Service, over 60 veterans received regular door-step checks and supplies.
  • Herefordshire Council successfully applied for pilot funding to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund to fund the project. The Council will continue to oversee the Centre whilst a team of trustees establish the Centre as an independent and sustainable charity.

Wider Covenant in action

  • Over 70 Herefordshire based businesses now signed up to the Covenant with more on the way
  • In 2019, the annual review event was extended to the business community and attended by over 40 organisations
  • Regular round-ups and bulletins now going out monthly to over 200 recipients
  • Ross on Wye and Ledbury Town Councils signed the Covenant this summer to support our community engagement
  • An online Armed Forces Covenant Awareness programme in partnership with the DMWS has been developed to support frontline teams.
  • VE / VJ Day / Armed Forces Week social media campaigns and county tributes