What is the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant?
The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant (SAFC) brings together charities, local authorities, other public sector organisations, businesses, communities, individuals and the military in a pledge of support between local residents and the armed forces community in Somerset. The pledge was signed on 20 February 2012 and is available in the Information and Resources section of this page.
The armed forces covenant
- encourages local communities to support their local armed forces community and vice versa
- promotes public understanding and awareness of issues that affect the armed forces community
- recognises and remembers the sacrifices made by the armed forces community
- encourages activities that help to integrate the armed forces community into local life
The Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve. It says we will do all we can to ensure they are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives. This includes offering injured servicemen and women and bereaved families extra support where appropriate.
For more information about the national covenant visit www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/
Somerset has long-standing links with the armed forces; particularly the major units based here, such as RNAS Yeovilton and Norton Manor Camp. Local organisations, including councils, already have good relationships with these bases and the charities that support in-service and ex-service personnel and their families. The Somerset Covenant builds on these relationships and provides a more consistent and comprehensive approach. We are working with the armed forces community on a range of priority areas that include, building communities, education, skills and employment, housing, benefits, health and welfare.
Who is part of the armed forces community?
You are part of the armed forces community if you are serving, or have served, in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army or Royal Air Force. The armed forces community also includes families and dependents, reservists, and veterans. A veteran is anyone who has served in the armed forces.
Somerset Intelligence pulls together available data to provide a picture of the armed forces community in Somerset, and its health and wellbeing needs.
How local people can help
Local people already support the armed services community by:
- taking part in military events and celebrations
- visiting local tourist attractions, such as the RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day and the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton
- attending homecoming and repatriation ceremonies
- providing practical support to the armed forces community, particularly individuals and their families
Future activities could include
- running youth groups or sports clubs for the children of serving members of the armed forces
- creating support networks for families of serving members of the armed forces
- helping ex-servicemen or women to take part in local activities
- providing training and employment opportunities for people about to leave the armed forces or veterans
The benefits are intended to be mutual, with the local armed forces community committed to getting more involved in local projects, and educational and sporting events.
Who can take part?
- Members of the public
- Charities and community groups
- Colleges and schools
- Businesses, such as shops and restaurants
- Health service providers
- Town and parish councils
- Local authorities
Useful contact information
The National Ministry of Defence (MoD) helpline - 0800 022 3366.
A free national helpline run by the MoD. It offers automated options for both in-service and ex-service personnel, their families and widows to use to help find the right people to ask for help and advice. It's not intended to replace existing sources of advice, but it provides a safety net for people who don't know what is available. More information.
Veterans’ Gateway - phone 0808 802 1212 or text 81212
The Veterans’ Gateway service provides a first point of contact for veterans seeking support. It aims to improve access to welfare services and speed up the time it takes for veterans to receive the support they deserve.
The service is funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) from the Covenant Fund and will be delivered by a Royal British Legion-led consortium, comprising Poppyscotland, Combat Stress, Connect Assist, the Ministry of Defence and SSAFA - the Armed Forces Charity.
The 24-hour online chat, phone, and text message service is partly manned by veterans who have been trained to help a British Armed Forces community. Find out more.
Veterans Shareline - 01752 816257
A free weekly hour-long telephone friendship and support group for injured armed forces veterans.
Combat Stress support helpline - 0800 138 1619 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a free national helpline run by Rethink Mental Illness and funded by the Government to help veterans and their families access expert advice from people trained and experienced in dealing with ex-servicemen and women and their often complex mental health needs
The helpline provides:
- round-the-clock support for veterans
- ways of accessing mental health support, including advice by phone, text, email and websites
- support to veterans' families, whose lives can be affected because of mental health problems, with support to help them access local mental health services
- help to access advice about other social problems affecting veterans, including housing and employment advice
The Ripple Pond is a self-help support network across the UK for the adult family members of physically or emotionally injured service personnel and veterans.
Forcesline 0800 731 4880 (Monday to Friday 10.30am to 7.30pm)
Free and 100% confidential helpline that provides a supportive, listening and signposting service for serving personnel, former members of the Armed Forces and their families.
Samaritans 116 123 (available 24 hours)
Available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.
Big White Wall (available 24 hours) - Share what's troubling you anonymously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - join the Big White Wall network. Free for serving personnel, veterans, family members and carers.
SPVA Veterans Welfare Service 0808 1914 2 18
This link gives you information on claiming AFCS, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Medical Discharges and Pension Forecast Requests
Information about other support.
A new e-learning package on the Armed Forces community is now available to better inform NHS healthcare professionals and others in caring for serving personnel, veterans and their families. The new e-learning package consists of modules that anyone can access on the following topics:
- Caring For Veterans And Their Families
- Mental Health Problems in Veterans
- Veterans with Severe or Long-term Injuries
More resources are available in the Information and Resources section of this page.
Armed Forces Covenant Fund
The Government’s new Covenant Fund, launched in August 2015, has a different focus from the grant scheme it replaces and the process for grant applications has also changed.
The Fund is an annual £10 million which is available in perpetuity. The Government will therefore keep the operation of the Fund under review to ensure its aims are delivered through a process of continual improvement.
Current Ministry of Defence guidance is available online
The intention is that the new Fund will be more strategic and more closely targeted at areas of need than the previous scheme. The new Fund has four broad funding themes. They are
- removing barriers to family life
- extra support after service for those that need help
- measures to integrate military and civilian communities and allow the armed forces community to participate as citizens
- non-core healthcare services for veterans
Information about priorities for the 2017/2018 fund have now been updated. Find more information
Small grants have been renamed Local Grants and a rolling programme has been introduced which opens 13 February 2017 to 5 January 2018. The funding windows to go to the main national panel are as follows:
- 13 February to 3 April (National Panel 18 May 2017)
- 4 April to 7 July (National Panel 17 August 2017)
- 8 July to 6 October (National Panel 16 November 2017)
- 7 October to 5 January 2018 (National Panel 15 February 2018)
If you have specific queries about the fund or are unsure whether your organisation or your project are likely to be funded, please contact email@example.com.
Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day is a chance to show your support for the men and women who make up the armed forces community, from serving troops to service families, veterans and cadets. More information about plans to mark Armed Forces Day.
Royal British Legion 2012 Census 'Count them in' campaign
Despite an estimated 1 in 10 of the UK population being members of the Armed Forces community, there's very limited information about where they are or what their needs might be. The Royal British Legion is campaigning to include questions about membership of the military community in the next census in 2021, to help develop a greater understanding of the needs, location and profile of the Armed Forces community. To add your voice to the growing body of people calling for additional questions on the Armed Forces community to be included in the next census, visit www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/count-them-in/
For more information about the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.