32 | Covenant

Spotlighton Armed Forces Liaison Officersfficer

Several local authorities within Wales were successful in their collaborative bid for Covenant Funds to appoint Armed Forces Liaison Officers. Integrated within the local authorities their varied work includes mapping the armed forces community population within each local authority,implementing training for local authority staff,strengthening partnerships between third-sector organisations and the local authority,supporting projects for covenant and MOD funding that aid integration in the community,and reviewing policies in line with National Guidelines.

The role of Armed Forces Liaison Officer is a relatively new one and is funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, can you tell us what it involves? How many AFLO’sare there now?

Wales currently has four AFLOs with another one due later this year.Each role is extremely fluid and while alot of focus is on the delivery of service for local authority we also work with health, third sector and private organisations. We hope to build long term multi-agency working models that enable us to ensure the delivery of the covenant from everyone is both sustainable and fit for purpose.

All of the Local Authorities in Wales, Scotland and England have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. How can they ensure that they are fulfilling their promises made under the Covenant and what can our service personnel and their families expect from their Local Authority?

In Wales we are ensuring that any disadvantage due to service has been or is eliminated and that policy and procedures treat serving/ex-serving personnel and their families the same as everyone else. There are many positive actions being taken that encourage community re-integration after service and this is what each local authority is working towards. If members of the AFC witness disadvantage they should highlight that immediately to either an AFLOortheir local armed forces champion/lead officer.Another important point is that the covenant is not wholly attributed to local authorities, and that health boards, service providers, third sector and private organisations also do their bit.

What is the general reaction of people when you mention the Covenant? Have most people heard of it or is there still work to be done in promoting awareness and understanding of it?

While awareness is increasing on the whole most people don’t understand what the covenant is and more importantly what it isn’t. While great work is being done there is plenty more to do to educate service providers, general public and the AFC.

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Further funding has been received from the MOD by the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association). They are using this funding for training for Local Authority staff,toensure relevant staff understand local authorities obligations and also marketing to raise the profile of the covenant across Wales. It is ongoing work like this that will help promote the covenant and raise awareness of why we have it.

What do you think is the most important message to get out to people about the Armed Forces Covenant?

That it’s to remove disadvantage due to service and support community integration after service.

What are the main challenges in your role?

There are several challenges that we face –ensuring service delivery across regions is the same, we don’t want to create a post code lottery for members of the AFC we want to ensure there is continuity in service delivery everywhere for everyone. We are limited by time as this is atwo-year funded project and while inroads have been made there is only so much we can achieve in that short time. And lastly sustainability,itisvital that changes we make and introductions we pursue carry on if/when our roles become obsolete.

With Llandudno hosting the national Armed Forces Day in 2018, its going to be abusy year for the armed forces community in North Wales; what do you think will be the main priorities for the covenant over the next year?

This year will be avery busy/productive one for the AFC in Wales. The covenant is likely to focus on highlighting the great work our armed forces do and to highlight the great contribution they can make after service. As AFLOs we can utilise this publicity to increase awareness both within local authorities and to external bodies (including employers etc). It also allows us to build long term relationships between multi-agencies that will benefit both the general public and members of the AFC.

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