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Introduction

The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant 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.

Somerset Community Covenant Pledge was signed on 20 February 2012 and is available here.

To reaffirm our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, Somerset Council re-signed the Covenant on 19 June 2023 during Armed Forces week. You can read the renewed pledge.

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 service members and bereaved families extra support where appropriate.
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 dependants, reservists, and veterans. A veteran is anyone who has served in the armed forces.
Find out more information about the national covenant here.

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 indefinitely. The government will therefore keep the operation of the fund under review to ensure its aims are delivered through a process of continual improvement.

Find out about current funds, priorities and funding windows here.

If you have specific queries about the fund or are unsure whether your organisation or your project are likely to be funded, please contact enquiries@covenantfund.org.uk.

Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is an opportunity 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.

How are we helping?

There are many serving and ex-armed forces personnel living in Somerset with their families and dependents.

Housing

Local Authorities and Housing Associations can allocate housing based on local needs.

The Homefinder Somerset Policy details how armed forces personnel are not disadvantaged by the current allocations system. Section 15.3 of the policy outlines how additional priority has been given to serving or former members of the Armed Forces.

Council tax support

Most war pensions are completely disregarded in calculating entitlement, as part of our Council tax support scheme. This demonstrates our commitment to providing extra financial help to local residents who receive these pensions.

Housing benefit

We also apply the same war pensions disregard in calculating housing benefit entitlement.

Armed Forces Champion

The Armed Forces Champion has a vital role to play in:

  • Understanding the aims of the Armed Forces Covenant and how through the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant we can support these aims.
  • Considering the needs of the Armed Forces Community in relation to the council’s policies and service delivery.
  • Raising awareness of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant.
  • Acting as a point of contact for the Armed Forces Community and other key stakeholders, such as service charities and other service providers.

Useful contact information

For more information about the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant, please email communities@somerset.gov.uk

Sources of Support for the Armed Forces Community – this booklet is a guide to the sources of support available for serving personnel, veterans and their families living in Somerset.

NHS Patient information for the Military Community

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. You can find more guidance of the Ministry of Defence covenant fund here.

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.

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 contactus@combatstress.org.uk

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 is 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.

Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs – These clubs help veterans, and serving Armed Forces personnel, by meeting face-to-face, in a relaxed, safe and social environment. There are several clubs that meet across Somerset. There is also another Taunton veterans breakfast club not included in the above website.

SPVA Veterans Welfare Service 0808 1914 2 18
The GOV.UK website gives you information on claiming AFCS, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Medical Discharges and Pension Forecast

More information

These resources have been made to raise awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant and how you or your organisation can support it. They provide an understanding of the Armed Forces Covenant fund and more support available to the Armed Forces Community.

Understanding the Armed Forces Covenant and Covenant Fund

Armed Forces Covenant – Understanding

Armed Forces Covenant – Contacts and Support Available

Armed Forces Covenant – Support and advice

Forces Connect South West – This website helps with identification, understanding and the pathways to accessing the right support when and where it is needed. It also provides information and resources to help better understand the Armed Forces Covenant in the South West and nationally.

Somerset Intelligence – data about the Armed Forces Covenant in Somerset

The Somerset Wood – find out more about this partnership to commemorate the county’s fallen in World War One

For more information about the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant, please email communities@somerset.gov.uk.

Downloads

Meeting the needs of the Armed Forces community in Somerset – Engagement report by NHS Somerset ICB

Somerset Armed Forces Covenant – Partnership Plan – plan for how Somerset will deliver the Armed Forces Covenant until 2023

Covenant Fund Expression of Interest Template – for organisations interested in submitting a bid into the Covenant Fund

Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Directory – directory of key organisations within the Partnership

Briefing Note – The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant

Annual Report to Full Council

Annual Report 2023

Last reviewed: May 3, 2024 by Paul

Next review due: November 3, 2024

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