The Covenant recognises the unique sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community and the specific needs and challenges they face.
The Armed Forces community includes veterans, families of serving personnel, widows, and widowers. In Southwark, the census showed almost 3000 people who have served in the UK Armed Forces.
Research by the Royal British Legion shows that the Armed Forces community in Southwark is uniquely young, and more likely to be living alone. This means they face unique challenges compared to both the population at large and the wider Armed Forces community.
Common issues faced by the Armed Forces community include housing, social care, and post-service employment. The RBL is calling for councils to explicitly include the Armed Forces community in its Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy (JHWS), which Southwark Council currently does not do. This is especially important given that veterans in Southwark are more likely to live alone and experience loneliness.
As well as a practical review of services, renewing the covenant would also be a powerful statement of solidarity with the Armed Forces community. Hounslow recently conducted such a review and performed a formal ceremony to commemorate it, and Waltham Forest are preparing to do the same.
Commenting, Cllr Rachel Bentley said:
“The Armed Forces Community in Southwark may be small, but no less deserving of fairness and opportunity. Ten years after signing the community covenant feels like the right time to review Southwark’s commitment to support this community with unique needs and circumstances. From employment to housing, it’s vital that veterans, reservists, and their families have the full support of their community and council.”