Venue: 135 Geo Sqn, Mercator House, Welbeck Close, Ewell, KT17 2BG
Contact: Sarah Goodman
Welcome and Apologies
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked 135 Geo Sqn for hosting the Board. A special welcome was given to Mr Michael More-Molyneux and Steve Owen-Hughes who were new members on the Board.
Apologies were received from Col Andrew Barr (Victoria Paterson representing), T/DCC Gavin Stephens, Karen Whelan, Jeff Harris, Rev Roland Olliff, Col Patrick Crowley (Lt-Col Chris Booth representing), Karen Simmonds, Major Carol Miller and Yvonne Rees.
The minutes of the last meeting held on 25 March 2015 were approved.
· The MPs briefing has been widely circulated and well received. Action: SG to circulate to all Board members.
· Headley Court will be closing in 2018/19 and will be put on the market. There have been some expressions of interest to date. Action: Peter Bruinvels to keep the Board updated.
· Community Integration Task Group
· Recognise and Remember Task Group
· SCMPB Successes 2015/16 (attached)
· SCMPB Priorities 2016/17 (attached)
Community Integration Task Group
Michael Cannon updated the Board on the work of the Community Integration Task Group. The group is focussed on tangible outcomes and has established four working groups to deliver these covering education, health, employment and housing. A lot of positive outcomes have been achieved to date and some of these are listed in the successes paper circulated with the agenda. The Group will be reviewing the actions for the coming year at their next meeting in May.
The group is keen to develop cross border relationships especially around the Aldershot area to see how everyone can best work together for the benefit of our military community, recognising that communities do not recognise local authority boundaries.
Recognise and Remember Task Group
Paul Evans updated the Board on the recent successful and well supported meetings. The Task Group now has representatives of Armed Forces Champions from each of the Task Force Commander areas. This has resulted in best practice being shared and improved co-ordination across Surrey. In addition a local Task Force Commander is invited to give the local perspective. The group would like to increase representation from the service charities and will invite reps from ssafa and ABF as well as RBL to future meetings. The action plan will be reviewed at the next meeting in May. Key successes include sharing the Guildford signposting leaflet, linking in with Surrey in the Great War, and being provided with a key contact within the Police for co-ordinating public military and remembrance events. The group has raised concerns about the rebranding of the Corporate Covenant and whether this will put some businesses off from being engaged and signing up to it.
The commemoration of the Somme event at Surrey Sports Park on 1 July 2016 was highlighted. A request was made to try to make the event not west Surrey centric and involve some football teams from the east of the county.
Due to the EU Referendum Reserves Day has been moved from 22 June to September (date TBC).
SCMPB Successes and Priorities
Some of the key successes from the paper circulated were highlighted. Board members were asked to forward additional successes they would like including to Sarah. Action: All.
The successes paper would be promoted through the Surrey Armed Forces website, @SurreyMilitary Twitter and will also be sent to the MoD and partners as a way of sharing best practice. Action: SG.
A recent successful meeting for all Surrey Armed Forces Champions and Task Force Commanders was highlighted to the Board. This model has been promoted as best practice across the 11 Brigade area.
The priorities for the SCMPB Executive were highlighted, and it was noted that these were in addition to the priorities and action plans of the two Task Groups. The Board asked for veterans to be more clearly highlighted within the priorities, recognising that veterans are a key focus of the work of the Community Integration Task Group. It was noted that social isolation ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Working with the Military - the role of the Lord-Lieutenant
Mr Michael More-Molyneux gave an overview of his role as Lord-Lieutenant in working with the Military as well as offering his support for the work of the Board.
He has been hugely impressed with the involvement of the military in Surrey and has had the privilege of attending a number of the Barracks in Surrey. Part of the role involves chairing the Surrey Military Appeals Committee, who have a keen interest and involvement in military activity across the county.
One of the highlights of the work so far has been seeing the volunteers in action – they add so much. The five Cadets that work with the Lord-Lieutenant have also been hugely impressive.
The Chairman thanked the Lord-Lieutenant for his overview.
Victoria Paterson provided an update on behalf of 11 Infantry Brigade. Brigadier Phil Kimber is now in post and has come from Special Forces. This is a training year for 11 Brigade. There are five units which will be brought up to readiness. There will be a mix of HQ training, 11 Brigade training and training for the five Battalions. Next year will be a deployment year. The Brigade always has troops at readiness to be deployed as well support the police if required.
A Community Integration Symposium is planned for County Councils and Unitary authorities in the 11 Brigade area in September to share best practice.
Best practice around the work on the Armed Forces Champion job description and the joint meeting of Task Force Commanders and Armed Forces Champions is being promoted to other authorities in the Brigade area.
Statistics will be available in October setting out how much of the Defence budget is spent within the County.
Within the Army, the internal understanding of the Covenant could be better. Each Unit has been asked to appoint an Armed Forces Champion to raise knowledge of the Covenant and address any misunderstanding locally.
Youth and employer engagement are key priorities for 11 Brigade this year and good links are being made with local authorities to look at dynamic ways of addressing these priorities. Another current focus is addressing deprivation and diversity issues as well as engaging with the BAME community.
The Chairman thanked Victoria for the update.
· New Covenant Fund (attached)
· Update on two previous successful bids:
o Halting the Revolving Door
o Time to Remember
The Board was updated on the following successful Covenant Fund bids from the 2015/16:
• Brookwood and Pirbright Children's Centre - extended early intervention and support for service and civilian families with children aged 0-5 years - £17,515
• The Surrey Care Trust - Learning Together: a programme of adult learning aimed at spouses of servicemen and women and the civilian community in the Deepcut and Pirbright areas - £19,805
• Officer of the Police and Crime Commissioner - Vulnerable Veterans - Halting the Revolving Door: a project to support ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system and prevent re-offending - £20,000
• Blackdown Pre-School, Deepcut - IT resources and play equipment- £1,462
• The Trench Experience - to purchase a multi-purpose exhibition vehicle with items to re-create typical WWI and subsequent conflict experiences - £17,600
• Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum - Gurkha Veteran's Integration Drive: a project to help integrate the local Gurkha community in the Woking area with the local civilian community through joint learning and social activities at local churches - £19,724
From a national perspective £10million was allocated in 2015/16, a large proportion of which was spent on the criminal justice theme. The South East was successful in securing 14 bids, which amounted to 16% of the funding. Scotland was the only other area that did better. Surrey and Hants performed the best within the South East.
The new priorities for 2016/17 are set out in the information included in the agenda pack. The bid process will operate very differently from last year and further guidance on each of the priorities will be posted on the MoD website from 4 May https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covenant-fund-guidance-on-how-to-apply
Halting the Revolving Door
Roger Nield (email@example.com) updated the Board on the Halting the Revolving Door project, which received Covenant funding in December 2015 following a successful bid from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. The six month project is aiming to:
• Identify the number of ex-service personnel imprisoned or on licence in Surrey.
• Benchmark the support available to veterans, reserves and their families so that service users can be signposted to the appropriate support for them.
• Create and train a team of mentors [ G2Gs ] to support ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system.
• Prevent service personnel and their families from becoming victims.
The programme is progressing well and links have been made to a number of projects and partners including the Transforming Justice programme, ssafa, RBL, 11 Brigade, veterans charities and many others.
Time to Remember
Christine Lee from Farnham Maltings received Covenant Funding for an event to remember the first two minutes silence which was in Farnham in May 1916. The event will be held on Sunday, 1 May 2016 and will comprise:
· 10.30am procession along Castle Street
· 10.50am ceremony, performance & two minute silence
· 11.10am procession to Gostrey Meadow
· Until 4pm May Day fair on Gostrey Meadow
Christine thanked the Board for their support and let them know that they ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
· The British Army in Syria – briefing for the Muslim Community
· Military recruitment from the BAME Community (attached)
· Peace Garden, Horsell Common (short video)
Zafar Iqbal updated the Board following a meeting he attended held by Ministry of Defence on Syria for the Muslim community. The key points made were:
• Middle East –complex issues with no immediate solutions
• UK Syria campaign (part of 60 Nation coalition) focused on DAESH (ISIS) - To protect our citizens and homeland
• DAESH – is a terrorist organisation with a warped ideology and enemy of Muslims and Non- Muslims
• More Muslims than non – Muslims have been killed by DAESH
• Best short term scenario is degradation of DAESH infrastructure to minimise their potential to attack UK
• No civilian casualties from UK campaign against the DAESH in Syria
• Internet is one of the main causes of radicalisation of Muslim youth
• The poisonous narrative of the DAESH must be defeated and all communities including Muslims can play a part in this effort
150 people from the Muslim community attended the briefing, and were all very supportive. Going forward they would be looking to see what could be done in schools and through the Prevent agenda to help address the issue.
Zafar then went on to talk about BAME engagement with the Military. In the next 20/30 years it is estimated that BAME is likely to increase to approximately 25% of the population, and there is concern that the armed forces are not recruiting from that community. There is a perception from the BAME community that the Army is anti Muslim, and there are few role models for this community within the Army which needs to be addressed.
The slides from the above presentations would be circulated to all attendees. Action: SG.
The Peace Garden at the Muslim Burial Ground was officially opened in November 2015. The following is a link to a you tube video on the Peace Garden http://www.woking.gov.uk/woking/heritage/muslimburialground
· SERFCA Video on Benefits of Employing Reservists
· Surrey/Woking businesses (National DRM accounts attached for info)
Chris Booth introduced a video (https://vimeo.com/107227531 ) to the Board on the benefits of employing Reservists. A handout on the benefits of Reservists was circulated, and an electronic copy would follow. Action: SG/CB
Defence Relationship Management (DRM) run the national accounts for businesses signing the Armed Forces Covenant. Stephanie Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is the South East account manager.
It was noted by Board members that the restructuring of DRM has had an impact on taking the work forward locally and some of the momentum has been lost. There was also concern that some businesses had lost interest following the rebranding. An Armed Forces Champion amongst the business community would be helpful in pushing this forward. It was noted that this was suggested at the Surrey Military Appeals Committee and was being looked into. Action: PB
Woking was planning an event early in the summer for local businesses to sign the Armed Forces Covenant.
· Armed Forces Champions – 3 March 2016
· Armed Forces Covenant Conference – 15 November 2016, Deepcut
· Covenant Rebranding
· Knowledge Hub
· The Armed Forces Champions locally are linking in with the Task Force Commanders and attending the annual inspections of Cadet Units.
· The contact details for local Cadet Units are in the process of being collated and will be circulated in due course. Action: PE/SG
· This years Covenant Conference will be held on 15 November 2016 at RLC Deepcut – it is hoped that Earl Howe and Mark Lancaster will attend, along with the Navel Base Commander, Portsmouth.
Date of next meeting
Proposed date and venue – 10am on Thursday 6 October 2016 (Keogh Barracks TBC)
10am on Thursday 6 October (Keogh Barracks)
The Role of 135 Geo Sqn and Tour of Reserve Centre
The Board will conclude with a presentation by the Commanding Officer of 135 Geo Sqn followed by a 15 minute tour of the Reserve Centre to see the vehicles and equipment based there.
Capt Simmonds gave a presentation to the Board on the role of 135 Geo Sqn followed by a tour of the equipment on site.