First anniversary of Bury's military covenant

Councillor James Firth and veterans of the Royal Lancashire Regiment of Fusiliers

Councillor James Firth and veterans of the Royal Lancashire Regiment of Fusiliers

First published in News This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A MILITARY covenant which pledges to support members of the armed forces in Bury is celebrating its first anniversary.

The Bury Armed Forces Community covenant was signed in February last year, and is a statement of support between a community and past and present members of the armed forces in the area.

The covenant’s steering group meets every four to six weeks, featuring representatives of organisations including Bury Council, the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and Six Town Housing.

The covenant aims to provide a joined-up service to direct people to the best services to help them, and to prevent veterans from slipping through the net.

A high-profile example of its support involved former soldier Stephen Taylor, who had his benefits cut after telling Jobcentre staff he had volunteered to sell poppies.

It was revealed by the Bury Times last year how Mr Taylor, who served as a Fusilier in Cyprus, Kenya and Northern Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s, was told he was not doing enough to find a new job, but the group assisted him in re-instating his jobseekers allowance.

Members will also be having an input into the plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, and will launch a veteran’s food bank in April at the Fusiliers Museum.

Colonel Mike Glover, the Fusiliers’ area regiment secretary for Lancashire, said the covenant has been “remarkably successful”.

He said: “It has proved an effective form of communication to help pass on information, to make sure people don’t slip through the net.”

The support of bereaved families has recently been in the spotlight, following the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and more recently the inquest of Fusilier James Wilkinson, from Whitefield.

Col Glover said: “They have the regiment to support them, and the regiment is very pro-active in looking after the families who have lost loved ones, whether it is a husband or a son.

“The covenant is more focused at veterans who may have left the army a number of years ago, lost their job or lost their house. It provides an opportunity to pick up these people.”

The covenant, which was introduced by the Government in 2000, obliges local councils that sign it to work with servicemen and veterans and their families, to make life as easy as possible for them.

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