A flag symbolising unwavering support for forces personnel has been raised by the North East’s largest local authority ahead of Armed Forces Day.
Durham County Council is flying the Armed Forces Day flag this week to mark Armed Forces Day on Saturday 25 June and Reserves Day, which takes place on Wednesday 22 June.
Representatives of the armed forces community joined the Chair of Durham County Council, Cllr Beaty Bainbridge, and its Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Paul Sexton, for the raising of the flag outside County Hall.
Cllr Sexton said: “We strive to do all we can to support veterans and members of the armed forces community in County Durham. We will continue to adapt our policies and procedures to ensure we fulfil our commitments to the Armed Forces Covenant so that no-one who serves in HM Forces faces disadvantage compared with any other resident.”
Cllr Bainbridge said: “We are proud to mark Armed Forces Day and acknowledge our support for the armed forces community, wherever they serve or have served. We are also grateful to our employees who give their time to serve in the Reserves or Cadet Forces and wish to support all our staff who are members of the armed forces family.”
Following the flag raising ceremony, Cllr Bainbridge and Cllr Sexton hosted a reception for the Deputy Lieutenant, Major (Retired) Chris Lawton MBE, senior representatives of the armed forces community and council employees who are either Reservists or Cadet Force adult volunteers.
Local representatives of charity the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) were also in attendance. Outreach workers working on behalf of the council, who offer a first point of contact to support veterans, those leaving active service and their families, were also present.
In December 2021 the council again pledged its support to personnel, veterans, and their families by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant is a commitment to ensure that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in accessing public services because of their military service.
Since signing the original covenant in 2012, the authority has implemented a range of proactive measures to fulfil its obligations and follow best practice as a supportive employer and service provider. This led to the council being recognised as gold award holders in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme in 2018.
In April, the council extended its leisure centre discounts to include veterans of all ages, in addition to the discounts already available to serving personnel and Reservists.
This week also sees the launch of a new armed forces staff network, which aims to offer council employees who are members of the armed forces community a supportive and welcoming environment, whether they are spouses or partners of serving personnel, a Reservist, a Cadet Force adult volunteer, a veteran, or a close family member of any of these.
More information on support available to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families is available at www.durham.gov.uk/armedforces