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Armed Forces Covenant

Part of Bombardier – in the House of Commons at 2:18 pm on 22nd November 2018.

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Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan Conservative, Berwick-upon-Tweed 2:18 pm, 22nd November 2018

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Businesses underestimate the value of the incredible workforce that can be provided by a military base close by, the effort that these extraordinary people, mostly women, will put in and their commitment to anything. An Army wife is a committed person who will work as hard as she can, even if she is going to be there for only two years. I have met many for whom it has been a frustration, and they take jobs at a lower level than their qualifications afford because they will only be there two years. Businesses fail to take the most advantage of the incredible resource that is on their doorstep. I know that the Department is looking to work on that in the coming year, and that it is one of its targets. I will be encouraging the Department in that, and I urge my hon. Friend to do the same.

We talk about ill health and veterans, and about the charities that support veterans’ needs. It is great to see the covenant fund being invested in and having a more open perspective than it has had in the past, but the challenge is for those small charities and social enterprises that do great work in the local community. I have two. Forward Assist, in the north-east, is wonderful, and helps with isolation and bringing veterans back into the workplace. Another wonderful charity is Forgotten Veterans UK, set up by an amazing veteran, Gary Weaving. It will formally open its new project at Fort Cumberland down in Portsmouth next week, and I am honoured to be a part of that. The charities help veterans with very simple tools, but they cannot access funding. They are sent the veterans who need that on the ground, day-to-day, gritty support, but they are not really getting any funding to help. We need to look at that more closely.