Hampshire pledges its support for armed forces reservists
Wednesday, 05 March 2014
Support for military reservists is being drummed up in Hampshire after their tremendous relief work in flood-hit areas of the county.
Reservists were the first among hundreds of army and navy personnel providing hands-on assistance in support of the multi-agency response and recovery efforts to flooding in Hampshire, caused by the highest January rainfall since records began.
Now Hampshire County Council has joined forces with the Local Government Association to pledge support and encouragement to staff who want to sign up. Reservists from 7th Battalion The Rifles and HMS King Alfred of the Royal Naval Reserve will be coming to the County Council's offices in Winchester to raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits of joining the reserve forces.
Representatives of the Forces involved with the flood relief work will visit the Council's headquarters on 13 March for a Reserve Service presentation to staff, managers and senior Members.
County Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry said: "Whether it was helping us to fill and distribute sandbags, support residents who were being evacuated, or being embedded in the Strategic Command Group to respond to requests for assistance, the military has played a significant role alongside local authorities, the Environment Agency and emergency services, and we could not have managed without them. Many of those on hand were reservists, and that's why in Hampshire we have put in place a protocol to positively support staff who are reservists in their spare time."
Councillor Keith Mans, the County Council's Lead Member for the Armed Forces, said: "The partnership working that had been so evident in Hampshire, particularly in Romsey and Winchester, is enshrined within the Hampshire Armed Forces Community Covenant. The County Council was one of the first to sign this voluntary statement of mutual support in June 2011."
Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, was recently in Winchester for talks on flooding with Councillor Perry and Councillor Mans. This was after the Local Government Minister Eric Pickles praised Hampshire in Parliament for the effective and cooperative way that flooding was being tackled.
Sir Merrick said: "Being a reservist is a unique opportunity, which is sure to be as rewarding as it is challenging. Councils have an important role to play in boosting numbers by encouraging staff and residents to join up. Supporting employees to sign up is a great way of encouraging civic pride and allowing people to make a valuable contribution to the defence of their country, and in return, councils benefit enormously from the decision making and leadership skills that reservists learn through the world class training they receive, which can be transferred back to their day-to-day council roles."
To give a sense of scale to the variety of tasks and responsibilities that are now being asked of the Reserves, Hampshire Reserve Soldiers from 3 Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (the local Hampshire Infantry Regt), are currently serving with the United Nations in Cyprus.
Opportunities in the infantry, the medical profession, Port Operators, Military Intelligence, Royal Artillery and Mechanical and Electrical Engineering exist in all three reserve forces as the British Armed Forces move to greater reliance on reservists.