Northumberland strengthens support for veterans

Armed Forces champion Coun Dave Ledger
Armed Forces champion Coun Dave Ledger

Northumberland County Council continues to strengthen its support for ex-servicemen and women, according to the authority’s Armed Forces champion.

A report on the work that has been carried out to support those in the military and their families in Northumberland is presented to the council annually as part of its responsibilities under the Armed Forces Community Covenant.

Presenting the report at this month’s full council meeting, Coun Dave Ledger said: “We’re in a completely different place to where we were 12 months ago.

“We’ve been hugely successful both in Northumberland and right across the whole of the North East.”

The report to councillors explained that ‘ by far the biggest achievement this year’ was the appointment of two outreach workers – Jonny Harrison and Paul Havelock, who Coun Ledger said are ‘already doing a fantastic job for us’.

It followed a joint bid by Northumberland and Durham which saw each county awarded a £260,000 Covenant Grant support to expand the ‘extremely successful’ Gateshead and Tyneside Outreach Service into these areas.

Since their appointments in September 2017 and February this year, the service has dealt with 72 cases, with 19 ongoing, and new referrals received every week.

The report adds: ‘Of particular note, they have raised over £7,500 from service charities to help pay for white and brown goods, clear rent arrears (which have prevented eviction), helped six homeless veterans find secure accommodation and also provided two mobility scooters with assistance from the Royal British Legion.

‘They are establishing a monthly Breakfast Club for veterans commencing June 2018.’

The report, on behalf of Coun Ledger as Armed Forces champion and the veterans’ champion, Coun Gordon Castle, concludes: ‘We are confident that Northumberland and the North East are providing every support possible to our Armed Forces personnel, reservists, cadets and their families and will continue to do so.’

Northumberland County Council also provides the administrative support for the joint North East Armed Forces Forum on behalf of the region’s 12 local authorities.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service