Essex Civilian Military Partnership Board makes over 30 recommendations to support armed forces community

History / Fri 5th Jul 2024 at 10:19am

ESSEX Civilian Military Partnership Board makes over 30 recommendations to support armed forces community.

The board has called for a number of improvements to mark Armed Forces Week.

Expanded dental services, veteran-friendly GP surgeries and more measures have been recommended to support Essex’s armed forces community.

More than 30 recommendations have been made in the updated Armed Forces Needs Assessment (AFNA), published by the Essex Civilian Military Partnership Board to mark Armed Forces Week.

The document details the effects of economic struggles, including from the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, on armed forces members and their families in Essex.

It covers five key areas:

health and wellbeing
education and children’s care
employment and transition
criminal justice system
The Ministry of Defence found 72% of veterans were satisfied with dental and medical treatment in 2024. This is a decrease from 82% in 2020 and the lowest level recorded.

According to the latest census, Essex veterans are twice as likely to report bad or very bad health compared to the general population at 11.4% and 5.6%, respectively.

As well as expanded NHS dentistry and veteran-friendly accreditation at GP surgeries, the AFNA calls for improved record-keeping to reduce homelessness.

The board asks local authorities, agencies, A&E departments, charities and police to track and share records of veterans they come across to identify those sleeping rough.

This includes increasing referrals to Op FORTITUDE, a pathway to supported housing funded by the Armed Forces Covenant.

It follows a 12% national increase in homelessness support requests by veterans between 2021/22 and 2022/23, according to the latest statutory homelessness data.

While Essex saw 38 fewer requests between 2021/22 and 2023/24, Chelmsford, Colchester and Epping Forest recorded the highest in the county.

The full AFNA can be found on the Essex County Council website, with further recommendations including:

raise awareness of the Essex Armed Forces Covenant and encourage more organisations to sign up
raise awareness of Op COURAGE, a specialist NHS mental health service for armed forces members and their families
promote Thriving Lives Toolkit in schools for children of those in the armed services
seek insights into the needs of veterans from armed forces champions at the Jobcentre Plus
ensure veterans who come into contact with the criminal justice system are asked if they served in the armed forces
Malcolm Taylor, Chairman of the Essex Royal British Legion, said: “Our current generation of service men and women, and those who have gone before them including veterans of all ages, have protected us in our time of need. It is only right that as a community we should assist them in their time of need.

“The updated review of the Essex Armed Forces Needs Assessment draws together the latest figures from local and national service providers and agencies. This enables all those who are committed to aiding our armed services community, and their families, to readily identify need and target service provision, whether statutory or charitable. “

Tom Walker, Executive Director for People, Policy, Economy and Public Health at Essex County Council, said: “Essex has a proud and rich military heritage which is embodied by today’s armed forces community.

“As set out in our Essex Armed Forces Covenant, we must do everything we can to support veterans and active service personnel who risk their lives for our safety, as well as their families. This means looking at tangible ways to improve their quality of life.

“Essex County Council is pleased to have published this year’s Armed Forces Needs Assessment so we can all do our part in helping our armed forces get the support they deserve.”

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