This week I was at the British Legion stand outside the Intu Potteries centre hearing about the great new ways to fund the British Legion’s activities all year round – the Poppy Lottery and monthly giving – which is eligible for Gift Aid so benefits them more. My father, who was a D Day veteran, gave to the British Legion every month and I signed up in honour of his memory.
While I was there, I got talking to Chris, a local veteran who served in the Royal Signals. Chris told me about some of the challenges he and other veterans face with housing and finding work. I understood what he was saying because the same issues led me to set up a charity for vulnerable homeless veterans a few years ago. It is a sad fact that about 75% of the homeless locally are veterans. I believe passionately that as a community we must support those who have served this country once they leave the military, and that the Armed Forces family should extend beyond service to helping veterans adjust to civilian life.
If you share my view, or know of problems our local veterans in Stoke-on-Trent are facing, do get in touch and I will do my utmost to ensure that our veterans locally get the help they deserve. I have been talking to the Leader of Stoke City Council about how we can improve the effectiveness of the Stoke City Armed Forces Community Covenant. In 2020 the Covenant will be updated. That gives us an opportunity to add new and specific commitments that will help the veteran community.
As we approach that time of year when we remember those who have given their lives in the service of our country, it is only fitting that we should also think of those who struggle to adjust to life after their time in the military. Let me know if you think more can be done and what you would like to see in the new Stoke Armed Forces Community Covenant.