Calls made for forces support

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw
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Health bosses have been called on to pledge their support to a new agreement to give better access to services for members of the Armed Forces.

The Armed Forces Community Covenant will run alongside the national Armed Forces Covenant to recognise the debt owed to our Armed Forces, Blackpool’s Health and Wellbeing Board heard at its last meeting.

Presenting a report on the community covenant, Scott Butterfield, Blackpool Council’s corporate development manager, said: “Blackpool already does a lot to support the forces with the arboretum, its well-established commemorative events and Armed Forces Week which has been held over a number of years.

“This covenant recognises particularly the activities that should be undertaken locally to support our service men and women. The communities themselves and the forces’ mutual relationships need to be developed and sustained.

“I would encourage the community to support this covenant and promote awareness of the issues affecting our Armed Forces community.”

The health board is being asked to consider how it could contribute to the covenant and what help it could offer veterans, serving personnel and their families and how it could help Coun Christopher Ryan in his role as Armed Forces Champion.

Blackpool has an estimated 12,000 military veterans, and there is a focus in the town on getting them help to improve or maintain their health and wellbeing, particularly their mental health, access support in finding work or training and finding housing for those who are newly discharged.

But there is difficulty in meeting the needs of a diverse population of veterans, who are aged from 16 years old right up to 75 plus.

Coun Sarah Riding, who sits on the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Not everyone wants to engage with veterans associations, and I think people can isolate themselves. It’s a traumatic experience.”

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw was also at Wednesday’s meeting.

He said: “Tackling offending and re-offending is really critical, and issues around drink, drugs and mental health issues come up time and again as being involved in the majority of incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Health is a key part of tackling these issues so it is important we work with health and other agencies as early as possible.”

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