Armed Forces Covenant
West Somerset District Council is a signatory to The Somerset Armed Forces Community Covenant. The Community Covenant brings together charities, local authorities, other public sector organisations, businesses, communities, individuals and the military in a pledge of support between local residents and the armed forces community in the county.
You are part of the armed forces community if you are serving or have served in the Army, Navy or Air force. The armed forces community also includes families and dependents, reservists, veterans and cadets. A veteran is defined as anyone who has served in the armed forces.
How are West Somerset DC helping the armed forces?
Whilst, there are no actual armed forces bases within West Somerset, many serving and ex armed forces personnel and their families/dependents do reside in the district.
Local Authorities and Housing Associations have the flexibility to allocate housing based on local needs. The Homefinder Somerset Common Lettings Policy details how armed forces personnel are not disadvantaged by the current allocations system, with section 8.2 detailing how additional priority has been given to serving or former members of the armed forces. For more information visit the Housing section of our website, or Homefinder Somerset.
Council Tax Support
As part of West Somerset Council’s Council Tax Support scheme, in calculating entitlement, the majority war pensions are completely disregarded. This shows West Somerset’s commitment to providing extra financial help to local residents who receive these pensions.
West Somerset also disregards these pensions in housing benefit calculations.
West Somerset’s Armed Forces Champion
Cllr Stuart Dowding has been appointed by West Somerset as our Armed Forces Champion to oversee and drive forward delivery of the Covenant commitments in our area.
The Armed Forces Champion has a vital role to play in:
understanding the aims of the Armed Forces Covenant and how the Community Covenant can support these aims
considering the needs of the Armed Forces Community in relation to the council’s policies and service delivery
communicating the Community Covenant both inside and outside the council
acting as a point of contact for the Armed Forces Community and other key stakeholders, such as Service charities and other service providers.
What local people are doing and how they can help
Many local people have become involved in supporting the armed forces community through service charities, or more recently by participating in Armed Forces Day. They have shown their support through fundraising, military celebrations and open days, attending homecoming parades and repatriation ceremonies and offering commercial discounts. Even simple demonstrations of support, such as displaying the Armed Forces Day window sticker in cars and businesses, have had a positive effect and boosted the morale of our armed forces community. The community covenant scheme aims to build on this local level of support.
Future activities could include:
running youth groups or sports clubs for the children of serving soldiers
creating support networks for families of serving soldiers
helping ex-servicemen or women to take part in local activities
providing training and employment opportunities for those about to leave the Armed Forces or veterans
The benefits are intended to be mutual, with the local Armed Forces community committed to getting involved in local projects, educational and sporting events.
Who can take part?
Individual members of the public
Charities and community groups
Colleges and schools
Businesses such as shops and restaurants
Health service providers
Town and parish councils
The Somerset Armed Forces Community Covenant is co-ordinated by Somerset County Council.
The National Ministry of Defence helpline: 0800 022 3366
This is a free national helpline run by the Ministry of Defence. It offers automated options for both in-Service and ex-Service personnel, their families and widows to use to help find the right people to ask for help and advice. It's not intended to replace existing sources of advice, but it provides a safety net for those who are completely unaware of what is available.
Veterans Shareline 01752 816257
A free weekly hour long telephone friendship and support group for injured armed forces veterans.
Combat Stress support helpline: 0800 138 161
This is a new free national helpline run by Rethink Mental Illness and funded by the Government. It has been launched to to help veterans and their families access expert advice from people trained and experienced in dealing with ex-servicemen and women and their often complex mental health needs The helpline will provide:
round-the-clock support for veterans
diverse ways to access mental health support including advice via telephone, text, email and websites
support to veterans' families, whose lives can be affected as a result of mental health problems, with improved support to help them to access mental health services in their local area; and assistance in accessing further advice on other social problems affecting veterans, including housing and employment advice.