2021 Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award content Dundee’s Commitment to the Armed Forces CovenantDundee City Council has had a long and mutually supportive relationship with the Armed Forces which was formalised when the Lord Provost, along with representatives of military and ex-service organisations, first signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant on the Council’s behalf in March 2012. A refreshed version of the Covenant was launched on Armed Forces Day in June 2016 and a copy of the Covenant signed by the current Lord Provost can be downloaded here. Successive Lord Provosts have acted as Veterans Champions, and the current Lord Provost continues to use that role to support the armed forces and to lobby on behalf of veterans. As an example, the Lord Provost recently corresponded with the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group for Armed Forces and the Veterans Community about issues affecting ex-service personnel which may have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, including mental health and financial issues. The Lord Provost is a member of the local Firm Base Group which brings together all those organisations with a commitment to the Covenant, and the Chief Executive is also represented on the Firm Base Group.The specific measures to which the Council committed itself in the Community Covenant were to promote services to armed forces personnel, veterans and their families to ensure uptake of welfare benefits and benefit and money advice services, housing options, education, access to leisure facilities, social care services and employability and training services. This commitment has been pursued by: Providing information on Council services, and on policy issues affecting serving personnel or veterans, at the Firm Base Group (e.g. on the work of our Employment Disability Unit and the implications of Welfare Reform) Helping to resolve any individual cases or queries relating to Council services, benefits, Council Tax etc Ensuring links between the Council’s housing and homelessness services and the Scottish Veterans Housing Association residence at Rosendael Supporting the establishment of a Veterans Project at City Quay, including financial assistance from the Council’s Common Good Fund and development of supportive referral arrangements between the project and Council officers. This project also hosted the Veterans First Point service managed by NHS Tayside until it was relocated to health board premises where it continues to provide peer mentoring support from service veterans Producing and updating a section of the Council’s website on support for veterans and publishing a leaflet highlighting the key contacts for people leaving the Armed Forces on Council services and other services in Dundee, with the aim of ensuring that those leaving military service are aware of all the sources of information and advice which will help the transition to civilian life Offering concessions for serving and former military personnel at the swimming pools and sports centres run on the Council’s behalf by Leisure and Culture Dundee Dundee Therapy GardenAs a specific example of its support for the Armed Forces Covenant, the Council supported the development of a Gardening Leave project in one of the city’s parks. The national Gardening Leave organisation folded just as the Dundee project was due to open, but the Council went on to support a local group, Dundee Therapy Garden, which successfully raised funds to run the Garden as a way of supporting veterans with PTSD etc. The Council leases them a former bowling green and pavilion at a nominal rent and also provided a £30,000 start-up grant and in-kind support such as deliveries of Discovery Compost which the Council makes from garden waste collections. Councillors and senior officers have visited the Garden to show their support. Civic Events The Council also organises and supports civic events which allow the people of Dundee to show their respect for current and former members of the Armed Forces. These include several yearly events - Laying of the Crosses, Festival of Remembrance, Remembrance Sunday (with services taking place at Powrie Brae, the City Churches, The Law, The Submarine Memorial and Frigate Unicorn), Armistice Day (if it falls on a week day), and at least two services at the submarine memorial in May and September, along with Armed Forces Day. Dundee also organised and hosted the national memorial for the centenary of the Battle of Loos, attended by Prince Charles, and has hosted homecoming parades in the City Square. We also support events hosted by the Black Watch Association and the former Lord Provost was Honorary President of the Association in 2015. Sadly, during 2020 the normal range of remembrance events was not possible but the Council still took steps to mark Remembrance Sunday. The Lord Provost was joined by a single representative from the Navy, Army and Air Force to hold a Laying of Crosses service, a minute’s silence and wreath laying service on Remembrance Sunday, with members of the public asked to show their respects at home and to donate to the Poppy Appeal. The Lord Provost also marked the 75th Anniversary of VE Day by paying tribute to those who lost their lives in conflict and asking citizens to remember the fallen from their own homes by observing a two-minute silence on Friday 8 May 2020. Human Resources The Council has positive human resources policies and practices that are supportive of the armed forces. This has included advice and guidance to cadets looking for work experience; contact with the Forces’ Career Transition Partnership to seek to work in partnership to support military personnel as they leave the armed forces; and continued non-discriminatory practices for employment and support for Reservists. The Council became Associate Members of the HRFCA and is represented at one area meeting a year and also the Annual Association meeting. We have taken part in Reserves Day, lending out the events space at Slessor Gardens for the Chamber Force Mini -Stretch events and encouraging the participation of Council employees and supply chain partners. We currently employ 6 reservists and have veterans in key resilience roles within the Council. Their experience has been invaluable in helping the Council to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the issues around the UK’s exit from the European Union and other emergency events. In the last 12 months there has been significant partnership with the MoD during the recent pandemic in the setting up of Mass Vaccination Cantres and Community testing and resilience. The Council has an internally publicised and positive HR policy on Reserves, also published within our recruitment job packs. These packs make clear that Dundee City Council welcomes applications from former armed forces personnel/reservists, and recognises that many of the skills picked up during a military career can be transferred directly into a role with local government. We also grant special leave with pay to employees who are members of the Non Regular Forces and are requested to attend an annual training camp, subject to them advising their Line Manager immediately upon receiving notification of the annual training camp dates and the attendance at the training camp being for a period of not less than one week and not exceeding 15 days.