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Merton is proud to support our armed forces community and to be the location of Haig Housing’s original, and largest, housing estates for veterans.
According to the 2021 census there were 2,888 people who had previously served in the UK armed forces in Merton in 2021. This equates to 1.7% of the population aged 16 years and over. By comparison, across all London boroughs (excluding the City), the local authorities with the highest proportion of veterans were Bexley (2.5%), Bromley (2.5%) and Havering (2.4%).
We recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by members of the armed forces community, and the unique skills and attributes they bring to our borough and communities. We are proud to have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and supporting our armed forces community is a priority for the council. As well as signing the Covenant and signing up to the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme we are developing a number of initiatives to support veterans in our upcoming Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy in recognition of the disadvantages that veterans often face.
The Armed Forces Covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
Those who serve in the armed forces, whether regular or reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.
This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes statutory, voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the armed forces.
The issue the covenant is addressing is the fair and equal access to goods, services, information and support whether from statutory, voluntary or commercial organisations.
- ensuring that service personnel, ex-service personnel and their families are NOT disadvantaged through military service
- ensuring a level playing field so that there is equal access to any form of service or support or information
- special consideration is given on a case-by-case basis and is at the discretion of the organisation providing it.
The Armed Forces Act, which gained Royal Assent in Parliament on 15 December 2021, enshrined the Armed Forces Covenant in law for the first time. The Armed Forces Act delivers a series of improvements and places a duty on public bodies including councils, the Police and Primary Health Care providers to uphold the covenant principles.
Every year the Government publishes a report detailing its progress to strengthen delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant. You can read the Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans annual report 2021 on the government’s website.
You can find out more on the Armed Forces Covenant website.
Merton’s signed Armed Forces Covenant will be published here shortly.
The armed forces community
The armed forces community is made up of:
- those serving in HM armed forces or armed forces reserves: the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force and the regular Army plus their constituent reserves
- ex-service personnel (‘veterans’). those who have served at least one day in HM armed forces as a regular or reservist, or merchant mariners who were part of a legally sanctioned operation
- their dependants including partners, spouses, children (even grown-up children if they are still living at home) and other dependent family members who are living in the household.
- the bereaved: the immediate family of service personnel and ex-service personnel who have died, whether or not that death has any connection with service.
Merton’s armed forces community
The 2021 Census in England and Wales was the first to ask people if they had previously served in the UK armed forces. People aged 16 years and over were asked whether they had previously served in the regular or reserve UK armed forces, or both.
Of the 2,888 people who had previously served in the UK armed forces in Merton in 2021, 1,911 (1.1% of the total population in Merton) had previously served in the regular armed forces only, while 859 (0.5% of the total population in Merton) had served only in the reserve armed forces. The remaining 118 (0.1% of the total population in Merton) had served in both the regular and the reserve armed forces.
Haig Housing has served the British Veteran community for over 100 years. As the leading housing provider for ex-Service personnel in the UK, the charity now owns over 1,500 properties across 50 locations. The charity’s largest concentration of veteran housing is situated on a large site in Morden, with 360 homes, which has also, until the summer of 2023, been the site of the charity’s headquarters building.
The Trust endeavours to help eligible Veterans in housing need, whether they are transitioning into civilian life or are simply in need of a helping hand.
Merton Council is proud of its relationship with Haig Housing and to be the host authority for the veterans living on Haig’s estate in Morden.
Merton Armed Forces Partnership Group
From September 2023 the council is committed to setting up a standing partnership group to co-ordinate planning for events in Armed Forces Week and on Armed Forces Day itself; Remembrance Sunday and other memorial events; and to identify ways in which as a partnership we can continue to improve our support for serving personnel, including reservists; veterans; and the families of serving personnel and veterans.
Merton Council is committed to supporting the armed forces community and first signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2013 as a promise to recognise the unique sacrifices that the armed forces make to support the nation and ensure that no member of the armed forces community should face disadvantage compared to other citizens.
The council reaffirmed its commitment in June 2023 by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant at a special event at the Civic Centre in Morden attended by senior representatives of the armed forces and local partner organisations.
We make sure our commitment is reflected in the services that we deliver, and we are now asking our suppliers to make the same commitment when they deliver services for us. Additionally, in recognition of the disadvantages that members of the armed forces community can experience, as part of the development of our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for the borough we are exploring ways in which the risk of disadvantage occurring can be reduced.
We are looking at ways in which we can provide work experience and have supportive polices for our armed forces staff.
Businesses – show your support
Over 10,000 businesses nationally have pledged their commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.
We are encouraging all of our contracted suppliers and providers to demonstrate their commitment to the armed forces community by signing the covenant and showing consideration of the armed forces community within the services they deliver.
If you are a business or organisation you can find out more here about how to sign the covenant.
Access to our services
We provide a range of services to residents and support for the armed forces community is embedded within these services. Our website is the first port of call for information on these services. Over the second half of 2023 we will be updating our local offer pages for housing, children and families (including education) and health.
If you have any questions or want to find out more about how the covenant applies within specific circumstances, please email email@example.com
Work for us
We recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by members of the armed forces community, and the unique skills and attributes they bring to our workplace. We are committed to ensuring better access to employment opportunities, support, mentoring, and work placements for transitioning personnel, reservists, veterans, and partners of serving personnel and veterans, and adult cadet force volunteers. We are doing this in a range of ways:
- We are members of the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme, and we are actively encouraging other employers to engage in this scheme.
- We provide up to 10 days paid special leave to reservists to undertake required annual training without sacrificing their annual leave.
- We can provide flexible working to partners/spouses of serving personnel to help them manage periods of deployment.
- We have a special leave policy that covers support to partners/spouses of veterans and serving personal to help manage sickness and/or injury.
We are proud to be working in partnership with many organisations to strengthen locally delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant and in the hosting of events to mark key dates. Find out more about the work and offer of other local organisations here:
- Haig Housing
- Royal British Legion (Mitcham, and Wimbledon and Merton branches)
- SSAFA, the armed forces charity (London South West)
- Veterans Community Choirs (UK) CIC
Meeting dates and reports
Details of meetings of the standing partnership group will be added here.
The Veterans Gateway
The Veterans Gateway launched in 2017 can put veterans and their families in touch with the organisations best placed to help with the information, advice and support they need – from healthcare and housing to employability, finances, personal relationships and more.
Family hubs are where our early help and prevention team provide some of their support to families, as well as where our behaviour management surgeries and groups are delivered. These used to be called children’s centres but have been expanded to include help for children and young people up to 19 years. All families, including service families are welcome in our family hubs.
Links to useful sites
- Army Families Federation
- Royal British Legion
- Citizens Advice
- Help for Heroes
- Naval Families Federation
- Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI)
- Royal Naval Benevolent Trust
- RAF Families Federation
- Royal Air Forces Association
- Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity
- SSAFA, the armed forces charity (London South West)