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Wokingham Council awarded bronze for Defence Employer Recognition Scheme

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Wokingham Borough Council is proud to have been awarded with the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme: Bronze Award, in national recognition of its commitment to the Armed Forces.

The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme encourages employer organisations to support people who served in the armed forces and inspire others to do the same. The scheme comprises of bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.

The bronze award is awarded to employers who have pledged to support the armed forces, signed the Armed Forces Covenant, promoted being armed forces-friendly and are open to employing reservists, armed forces veterans (including the wounded, injured and sick), cadet instructors and military spouses and partners.

As part of the bronze award recognition, the council has received an electronic certificate and logos which will be displayed on its website, stationary and other communication collateral.

Armed Forces Champion Cllr Angus Ross said: “I am delighted Wokingham Borough Council has been recognised to reach the first step to support those leaving the armed forces by receiving the bronze award. This scheme is one of the many areas the council is working to support service personnel, armed forces veterans and their families living in Wokingham Borough. I hope the council will continue their efforts to move towards obtaining silver and gold award accreditation.”

Wokingham Borough Mayor Cllr Keith Baker MBE said: “This is a fantastic achievement and I am proud that the council have been presented with this award. Receiving the bronze award bolsters our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. The council is active in employing people who have served in the armed forces and supporting service families, and we are proud and lucky to have you all living and working in our borough.”

In 2013 and re-affirmed in 2021, the council signed the Armed Forces Covenant, a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

The aim of the covenant is to support the service community living in Wokingham Borough whilst remembering and recognising the sacrifices they have made. This includes supporting in-service and ex-service personnel and their families, whilst raising public awareness and understanding of issues affecting the armed forces community.

In spring 2021, Berkshire Leaders agreed to re-affirm the support to the covenant by forming the Royal Berkshire Civilian Military Partnership Board. The Partnership Board was established to foster closer working between all six Unitary Councils plus the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, agencies and the military in order to support the armed forces community in Berkshire.

Defence Employer Recognition Scheme

Examples of work the council has undertaken across the borough as part of its commitment to the covenant include:

·       Working with Arborfield and Newland Parish Council and Arborfield Garrison to open the Garrison Youth Club to the wider Arborfield Parish Community

·       Holding Community ‘Homefront Meetings’ approximately every three months with representation from Arborfield and Newland Parish Council and Thames Valley Police, along with various representatives from the military community

·       Delivering Adult Community Learning courses in Arborfield including courses for army wives from Nepal that combined cultural and English language learning

·       Working with Thames Valley Police to provide extensive community engagement work following the tragic murder of the wife of a Ghurka soldier in June 2013

·       Supporting the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Business Networking Event in January 2014 which aimed to promote the benefits of employing former service men and women in local businesses

·       Holding World War One centenary commemoration events through the borough with Wokingham Town Council leading and coordinating activities including a ‘Wokingham Remembers’ Heritage Trail, linking the memorials within the borough and providing pop-up mobile exhibition stands that narrate the stories of some of the local men who fought in the war

·       The Arborfield Garrison planning application was accompanied by a Heritage Statement to explain how the proposals take account of the significant military heritage of the site

·       Working with partners and the Royal Observer Corps memorialisation on the new Arborfield by-pass

·       Supporting the armed forces community embedded in the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy and Housing Allocation Policy