Digital reinforcements for Armed Forces Day

A new website and film will help Somerset celebrate Armed Forces Day this month and support Armed Forces personnel past and present.

The Armed Forces Flag will be flying at County Hall in Taunton from Monday next week in the run-up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 29 June – a day for people to show their appreciation for the men and women who make up our Armed Forces community.

This year, as part of the South West Armed Forces Covenant Project, a website and film are being launched to raise awareness of the challenges facing service personnel and support those working with service personnel in communities.

During next week, the Somerset Armed Force Covenant (SAFC) partnership will also hold its annual conference at Norton Manor Camp, near Taunton, home of 40 Commando Royal Marines. On the agenda will be how the Ministry of Defence’s Veterans’ Strategy, which was launched last autumn, can be delivered in Somerset.

The film, called Change Step, is available on the website. The film illustrates some of the challenges faced by service personnel and their families during and after transition, and can be used as a training resource to help raise awareness in organisations or at an individual level.

The website provides regional information for the whole military community in the south west, including information on how to access help through the Veterans and Families Service Directory. It will be regularly updated with information about local organisations and agencies that support the military community.

Both the website and film have been produced by a regional partnership of local authorities including Somerset, known as Forces Connect South West, which won £190,000 Government funding in 2016 and an extra £150,000 early in 2018 to fund initiatives.

Somerset County Councillor Rod Williams, Chair of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership, said: “I welcome this new film, which was made in Somerset, and website.

“They should raise awareness of the immense contribution Armed Forces veterans can make to everything we do. But some of these veterans need extra help to find their feet outside the Services.

“It is in the interest of all of us to take advantage of their character skills and abilities.  This short film should be enjoyable and educational for all of us.  And the website will be an invaluable source signposting where help and support can be found for those to whom we owe so much.”

The approach echoes the aspirations of the Armed Forces Covenant which aims to ensure the Council, businesses and public and voluntary sector work with the military to provide help and advice to the Armed Forces community.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook, OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council, the lead authority in the South West Armed Forces Covenant Project, said: “The ability to raise awareness of the Covenant whilst being able to reach the military community across the region is a great step for us all to take and is already benefitting the cross-county collaborative work of the partnership.”