From sports festivals to virtual employment sites, 38 projects that aim to bring the Armed Forces and their local communities together in Hampshire have benefited from £1.6m in Government grants.
In 2011 the Ministry of Defence set aside up to £30million over four years to help communities develop projects that promote greater understanding or closer ties between military and civilian populations. Hampshire County Council has been working closely with the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air force to support applications for Armed Forces Community Covenant Grants with great success.
Over the last two years 38 projects in Hampshire have shared £1.6million. These include:
- A new first responder vehicle equipped with defibrillator that is based at RAF Odiham and deployed in the local community.
- A joint healthy lifestyles project between Bridgemary School in Gosport and The Navy (HMS Temeraire).
- Support for the creation of a social enterprise – Services Employment and Enterprise Network (SEEN) – which provides jobs and vocational training for the spouses and dependents of forces personnel, service leavers and civilians within military communities.
- Sport festivals (in Aldershot, Eastleigh, and Portsmouth) to encourage injured servicemen and women and disabled people to try out new Paralympic and Disability sports.
- Funding to enable Armed Forces families to use the campsite and activity centre at Tile Barn in the New Forest free of charge in the school holidays
Grant applications can only be made from those council areas that signed up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant. Hampshire County Council was one of the first authorities to sign up after the Government chose it as a front runner because of its strong relationship with the Armed Forces locally and the significant, beneficial work it already does with its military partners. The Community Covenant aims to encourage all parties within a community to offer support to the local Armed Forces community and make it easier for Service personnel, families and veterans to access help and support.
Cllr Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “Hampshire is proud to have been the second authority in the country to have signed up to the Community Covenant, showing our commitment to supporting and working with Armed Forces community. Since 2011 we have seen Hampshire become one of the most successful in terms of securing funding for some fantastic projects to better integrate the Armed Forces and civilian communities.”
“Competition for these grants has become tougher with around 98% of authorities having now signed a Community Covenant and now eligible to apply. However we will continue to work with our Armed Forces partners to help local projects put forward strong bids and have a better chance of benefiting from this funding.”
The Community Covenant Grant Scheme is open to all parts of the Hampshire community including volunteer groups, schools and charities for projects. The main criteria is that the initiative has a clear benefit to both the Armed Forces and their local community. Bids can be made for funding from £100 to £250,000.
The next round of grant applications need to be in by 19 August for consideration by the Community Covenant Partnership Panel, which is made up of representatives from the three Armed Forces and Hampshire County Council. Applications that are endorsed by the Panel will then be submitted to the regional MoD panel for final consideration.