The veterans' charter helps armed forces veterans overcome problems that can affect their well-being and adjustment to civilian life. It makes sure our services are aware of the needs of veterans when providing information and support.
The charter was developed through an overview and scrutiny group, in consultation with veterans' organisations and members of the public. It was adopted in March 2012.
This review, published in March 2014, looks at whether the charter is working in Thurrock.
Review process and findings
We invited views from the 36 organisations and individuals that took part in our original consultation to produce the charter. A press release to promote the review was included in the local media. We received 12 responses in total. These are summarised below.
Understanding of the charter
We asked: "Is there a good understanding of the charter across services in Thurrock?" In general it was thought that although there is a good understanding within some areas, more needs to be done to make this consistent across all services.
Two forces organisations said they had not heard of the charter. One organisation said that although it had helped to develop the charter, they hadn't heard much about it since then, and they asked to meet with us to talk about it.
We have contacted organisations and arranged meetings to explain the charter and promote it with veterans in Thurrock.
Implementation of the charter
We asked: "Do you think the charter has been well implemented in Thurrock?" There were some examples of how the charter had helped a veteran get information or services, but the general view was that more could be done to promote it across our services and the community.
We were told that awareness of the charter was important. Posters have been displayed in the council's Civic Offices, and postcards about the charter were sent to service organisations. The charter has been promoted at Armed Forces Day events, and it is included in the veterans' pages on this website.
Many felt that the charter needed to be more visible, and that ongoing promotion is important for it to be a success in the long term.
Many told us it was hard to know who are armed forces veterans. One suggested the creation of a register of veterans in Thurrock to help promote the charter and support veterans and families.
Another suggested that a panel be created to speak on behalf of veterans and give advice on how best to meet veterans' needs.
A lot of positive work has been done with armed forces organisation in developing a veterans' charter. There is a need to promote the charter across public services and in the wider community. Meetings will be held with organisations who responded to the review. Information sessions for staff will be arranged to help promote the charter within the council and its partners.
Furthermore, there will be a workshop with local organisations to talk about how we can:
- join resources and work together to promote the support available to veterans
- create a supportive environment for veterans in Thurrock
Working in partnership is important in knowing our veterans and giving them the support they need.
A workshop will also be used to promote Thurrock's signing of a community covenant with Essex County Council, the Armed Forces and Communities in Essex.
The idea of a community covenant that includes serving personnel was first raised in the original consultation for the veterans' charter. We were invited to sign the community covenant with Essex County Council in November 2012.
We have said we would like to work alongside Essex partners to introduce the community covenant.
Developing the veterans' charter gave us a great chance to work with partners and think about how we support the needs of veterans. The charter has helped to raise awareness of veterans' experiences in some services, and has supported some individuals, but there is more we could do to promote it and improve its use.
Staff information sessions and a workshop with partners will help us to:
- promote the veterans' charter and the community covenant
- improve our work with both commitments