Somerset awarded Bronze recognition for its support of the Armed Forces

Somerset County Council has been awarded the Bronze level of Ministry of Defence recognition for its support for the Armed Forces community.

The award is part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (DERS) that encourages employers to support Defence and inspire others to do the same. The scheme recognises organisations who pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to Defence and the Armed Forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant. 

The DERS has Bronze, Silver and Gold levels of awards that recognise progressive levels of support to the Armed Forces community.  The County Council will work towards the Silver Award in 2020/21. 

Bronze Award winners must have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and be Armed Forces friendly and open to employing Armed Forces reservists, veterans, cadet instructors and military spouses or partners. 

Silver Award winners must proactively demonstrate that Servicemen and women, and their families, are not treated unfairly due to their serving in the Forces (perhaps moving to different parts of the country frequently) and must have an internally publicised positive HR policy on employing Reservists.  

The award comes after a busy year for the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership which is chaired, on behalf of Somerset County Council, by County Councillor Rod Williams. 

Achievements in 2019 included: making Somerset’s contribution to the Ministry of Defence’s new Veterans Strategy; Somerset being invited to chair the new South West Armed Forces Covenant Partnership; running a large Somerset Conference on mental health and suicide prevention; supporting Somerset-wide Remembrance activities; and working with health colleagues to improve access to physical and mental healthcare for the military community. 

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve or have served that we will do all we can to ensure they are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.  The Covenant seeks to ensure fair treatment for Regulars, Reservists, Veterans and their immediate families. 

Cllr Rod Williams said: “I am delighted that Somerset County Council has been recognised for our support for the Armed Forces community.  This is testament to the hard work by all the partners in the Somerset Covenant Partnership across the public, private and charity sectors, to deliver the Covenant.  I urge all employers to seek recognition and award through this Scheme. 

“I’m proud of Somerset’s military presence and heritage.  It is right that we all recognise the unique nature of military service and the exceptional qualities and skills that our Servicemen and women have.  All of us in Somerset can help deliver this promise from the nation to those who serve or have served.” 

If you would like more information about the Employer Recognition Scheme Award, and how your business can benefit from supporting the Armed Forces Community, contact Jon Beake, Regional Employer Engagement Director at Wessex RFCA Email: wx-reed@rfca.mod.uk

Further information about the Somerset Armed Forces Partnership is available at www.somerset.gov.uk/forcescovenant