Labour’s Shadow Mayor, Liam Byrne MP will be briefing opposition defence spokesman, the Right Honourable John Healey MP on his ten-point plan to support the West Midlands 76,000 former service personnel and their families.
They will be joined by Councillor Mick Brown, whose son serves in the Irish Guards, during a visit to the City’s Hall of Memory in Centenary Square.
“We have made a good start across the West Midlands in supporting the Armed Forces Covenant, but we need to do more, and can do more.
“I would like our region to be a beacon of best practice, in supporting those who have risked their lives in the service of our country.
“That means making sure we’re bringing back industry to the West Midlands, using defence contracts to support high-tech manufacturers here - and helping those firms open jobs to former armed forces personnel with support for specialist training".
Centrepiece of Byrne’s plan will be to explore how the Defence Medicine Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham can come together with the Commonwealth Games to help create a centre for Invictus sports. The idea could see a centre of excellence for the treatment of injuries, rehabilitation and sport at the new hospital planned for Arden Cross between Birmingham and Coventry.
This would be supported by a joint approach with the NHS and local councils to ensure that veterans have homes, access to specialist mental health services, a review of concessionary travel to support injured veterans, and the promotion of veteran friendly recruitment with employers across the region.
“To make sure this happens I will appoint an advocate for the armed forces community at the West Midlands Combined Authority. That way we’ve got someone with clout tasked with co-ordinating our to support veterans with local councils, businesses, trades unions, housing associations and the veterans’ organisation such as the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes,” said Liam Byrne.
Notes for editors:
The full covenant can be found here:
Liam's ten point plan:
1. Bring together the WMCA and the local authorities across the West Midlands that have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and refresh the commitments with actions to support fair treatment, respect and opportunities
2. Work with the public health teams in every local authority in the WMCA and the NHS on pathways for mental health provision and engage with the NHS on co-ordination of integrated health care to the Armed Forces community within the West Midlands
3. Review contracts across the WMCA to encourage suppliers to be Covenant members and urge other institutions and businesses in the region to follow suit
4. Appoint an advocate for the Armed Forces community at the WMCA, to work with local authorities, public bodies and businesses to lead and champion good practice
5. Run veteran specific training and job skills workshops and to foster access to the widest range of employment and re-training options possible
6. Automatically shortlist veterans for jobs at the WMCA if they apply
7. Review the WMCA concessionary travel scheme and consult with council leaders and council taxpayers to determine the potential for concessionary travel for veterans in receipt of compensation as a result of their service
8. Implement a consistent approach across the region for housing and housing advice to the Armed Forces community
9. Back our veterans through celebration and remembrance as part of our ‘Decade of Togetherness’ programme
10. Bring the Centre for Defence Medicine and Invictus Sports together to develop a centre of excellence for treatment of injuries at the new hospital at Arden Cross
Oliver Longworth - Press Officer for Liam Byrne - firstname.lastname@example.org - 07468611694