Staff and elected members at Durham County Council will celebrate civilian and uniformed personnel on a national day to honour the armed forces community.
The local authority is flying the official armed forces flag at County Hall to mark Armed Forces Day on Saturday, June 24 and Reserves Day on Wednesday, June 21.
The Armed Forces Day flag has been raised at County Hall, where Cllr Joan Nicholson, chair of the council, hosted a reception for Deputy Lieutenant of Durham Major (Retired) Chris Lawton MBE, senior representatives of the armed forces community, and council employees who are reservists or cadet force adult volunteers.
The council now has an armed forces staff network which offers a supportive and welcoming environment for employees who are members of the armed forces community. This includes spouses, partners, or a close family member of serving personnel, reservists, cadet force adult volunteers, or veterans.
Since signing the Armed Forces Covenant, the council has been recognised as gold award holders in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme due to the range of proactive measures it has taken as a supportive employer and service provider.
The council has a guaranteed interview scheme for veterans who meet essential criteria for an advertised post, and has this year increased the eligibility for roles to five years since leaving the armed forces. Last year, the council employed 17 veterans into its workforce.
The council contributes to the funding of two full time armed forces outreach workers who offer a first point of contact for veterans or those leaving the armed forces and their families.
Their role includes providing support with housing, benefits and debt advice, employment and training, or health and social welfare.
Cllr Robert Potts, armed forces champion for Durham County Council, said: “Armed Forces Day is a chance to show our support for the men and women who make up the armed forces community: from currently serving troops to service families, veterans, and cadets. Reserves Day also recognises the dedication and professionalism of those who serve in our reserve forces.
“As a council we strive to do all we can to support veterans and members of the armed forces community in County Durham and ensure that those who serve or have served in the armed forces have the same opportunities as any other resident.
“We are proud to fly the flag for Armed Forces Day to show our support for serving personnel, veterans, and their families.
“We acknowledge the dedication of reservists who give up their time to serve in the reserve forces, and value the skills that they bring to civilian employment.”
• Pictured above: Cllr Joan Nicholson, centre, with Cllr Robert Potts, centre left, and council employees and senior representatives of the armed forces community.