Greater Manchester’s ten councils have united to sign a major agreement to put armed forces personnel and veterans at the heart of public services.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has signed what is believed to be the country’s first armed forces community covenant for a combined authority.
The covenant will place troops and veterans at the centre of public services in Greater Manchester by making sure a person’s armed forces service history is known and appropriate services provided in crucial areas such as regeneration, health and housing.
In signing the covenant the leaders of the ten councils were joined by Her Majesty’s Lord and Vice Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, representatives from the armed forces charities, and senior armed forces representatives including Lieutenant Colonel Lindsey Forbes the Greater Manchester Garrison Commander.
Lord Peter Smith, chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: "As a Combined Authority we are as one in our unwavering support of our armed forces personnel and veterans.
"A huge number of serving and former soldiers have come from the towns, cities and villages of Greater Manchester.
"It is only right that as a Combined Authority we sign our commitment to not forget the sacrifice our armed forces and their families have made but to instead fully recognise that sacrifice.
"The signing of the community covenant takes the individual work of each authority to the next level. Our aim is to continue to make a real difference to our Greater Manchester armed forces. We will not stop until we make that difference."
Proposed aims and objectives in the Community Covenant are:
To ensure that our armed forces and their families are reflected in the workstreams arising from the powers and resources of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, including these powers and budgets devolved to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
To work towards ensuring that our armed forces and their families are considered in all commissioning arrangements.
To work towards ensuring that our armed forces and their families are captured in all customer service delivery and policy decisions.
To ensure that in all funding applications we consider our armed forces, their families and the aims of this covenant.
To work with our armed forces charities and partners to better share information and ensure that our armed forces and their families receive the best support required.
To continue the work within districts to remember the sacrifices made by our armed forces and their families and to reflect on those sacrifices.
To co-ordinate and direct implementation of support to the armed forces across the Combined Authority area.
Lord Smith said the community covenant will not change the way public services work overnight but will embed good practice and ensure that good work is sustained.
Lt Col Lindsey Forbes, the army’s Garrison Commander for Greater Manchester, said: "I am honoured to represent the armed forces at this important event and wanted to thank all the signatories for their work in bringing the Greater Manchester Combined Authority community covenant signing into reality.
"Each of the Greater Manchester local authorities is hugely supportive of services personnel, both past and present, and their families.
"It’s great to see that commitment renewed and enhanced; ensuring those in the armed forces do not suffer disadvantage as they access local authority services across the city region."