Friday (28 March) saw the official launch of a bespoke trailer designed to spread awareness of the services and support that is available to ex-military personnel across the borough.
The Mayor of Rotherham cut the tape to declare the new service open and said: “When we have gathered together for previous events and to support the Military Covenant in Rotherham part of the exciting and innovative thinking was that an outreach service would be launched.
“People say that they love it when a great idea comes together and that’s exactly what we are seeing. I was delighted to cut the ribbon and by doing so officially launch the new service. I know there are plans to promote the service across South Yorkshire and I wish it well as it goes from strength to strength. Ex-military people are a proud group and rarely seek help – in that case we are determined that they get the support they deserve.”
Cllr John Doyle has been instrumental in steering the Military Covenant. He said he was delighted that the work had led to this important day: “For the covenant to be real it needed the dedication of groups and individuals and that is something we are good at in Rotherham. We believe in fairness, we believe in service and we believe in recognising the very best in our society.
“The outreach service will enable us to support individuals who are accustomed to asking for nothing and expecting nothing – an opportunity to recognise their dedication and their professional commitment and reflect it through a service that will be there when it is needed.”
In January 2012 the Council, along with 21 other organisations, signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant, the heart of which is to ensure that no person or members of their families are disadvantaged as a result of having served in HM Armed Forces.
Since that time, work has continued with the organisations, but one key development is the creation of a community group, the Military Community and Veterans Centre (MCVC), run by ex-service personnel for ex-service personnel.
Its mission statement is “The MCVC will provide comradeship and a sign-posting service to expert support providers for ex-service personnel and their dependants in the Rotherham area.”
One of the key issues is to discover just how big the ex-military community is in Rotherham. The group has held drop in sessions at the Unity Centre and at the Voluntary Action Rotherham offices in Coke Hill, but it was felt that this was still not reaching out to the majority of potential people.
The group decided that an outreach service should be developed to travel to various locations around the borough to meet their target audience and to promote the existence of the group. Another reason for the outreach is that not everyone has enough available money to pay for bus fares into Rotherham.
A grant of £22,088 was received from the Ministry of Defence to fund the purchase and running cost of the trailer, which is currently staffed by volunteers. A programme of locations is being developed and talks are ongoing with other South Yorkshire councils for the outreach service to be included in their own Armed Forces Covenant work.
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