Cllr Paul Ainsley, a member of the Together4Rutland Group, is the County Council’s Armed Forces Champion. During a recent Council meeting, he updated Council Members on his activities and the support that Rutland County Council provides to our armed forces, both serving and veterans.
His Majesty’s Prison Stocken
On Wednesday, 17th August, Cllr Ainsley and our Armed Forces Officer Ian Reynolds visited HMP Stocken to meet two prisoners, Baz and Pete, who, as veterans, are championing the approximately 50 veterans in prison.
Baz and Pete deliver information days and advice sessions to the veterans’ prisoners’ group under the guidance of Lindsay Beadnall, the prison equality officer.
They are enthusiastically embracing the preparations for Memorial Sunday in November. They are hopeful that the veteran’s group will be able to participate in the act of Remembrance in Oakham through a display of approximately 1,000 poppies made by the inmates.
Loughborough Veterans Wellbeing hub
Recently Cllr Ainsley and Ian Reynolds visited the Loughborough Wellbeing hub during a veteran-specific wellbeing session. The Armed Forces Covenant Fund funds the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Veterans Wellbeing Hub with the aim of offering advice, support and guidance.
They met with Councillor Rami Mahal, the Harborough District Council Armed Forces Champion, Brendan Daly, the Armed Forces Lead for the LLR NHS Trust and Helen Carter, the Chief Executive Officer, Loughborough Wellbeing Centre.
Paul and Ian intend to work actively with Cllr Rami Mahal, Helen and Brendan as we seek to establish satellite hubs for Lutterworth and Oakham. The initial well-being sessions in Oakham will be held in rooms kindly made available by the Whipper Inn. We want to take this opportunity to thank the Whipper Inn for their very generous support.
Merchant Navy Day
A flag-raising ceremony to commemorate all who work at sea, both past and present, was held outside Oakham Castle in August to mark Merchant Navy Day 2022.
We must recognise the sacrifices and dedication of those brave and often unsung individuals within the Merchant Navy community, past and present. It was Paul’s honour to attend the flag-raising event, and we were particularly pleased to see so many residents come out to show their support.
Armed Forces Covenant Project Board
In early September, we held the inaugural meeting of the Armed Forces Covenant Project Board. The Government has now published the Armed Forces Covenant Legislation Guidance, which will likely come into legal force in the Autumn. The board will ensure that we adhere to the legislation as we move from guidance to a more formal legal obligation. Fortunately, in Rutland, we are well down the road of meeting the legislative requirements because we have always supported our armed forces colleagues.
Our Armed Forces fulfil the responsibility for the realm’s defence on behalf of the Government. They sacrifice some civilian freedoms, facing danger and, sometimes, suffering serious injury or death as a result of their duty.
In summary, the requirements of the Covenant are:
We will have a legal obligation to the members of the Naval Service, the Army and the Royal Air Force and their families to ensure that they are supported in seeking housing and medical treatments.
Those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in providing public and commercial services. It is important to remember that the covenant does not seek to give an advantage but rather to ensure a level playing field.
However, special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most, such as the injured and the bereaved.
Paul believes it is an honour to work to support our Armed Forces and Veterans Community and to recognise the contribution that our Armed Forces Community makes to our businesses, our county and our country.