NECS signs the Armed Forces Covenant

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Feb 21, 2024

NECS is proud to announce that we have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, showing our support and commitment to the Armed Forces Community.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

It is a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives.

The Covenant supports serving personnel, service leavers, veterans, and their families, and is fulfilled by the different groups that have committed to making a difference.

The Armed Forces community includes:

  • Regular personnel – any current serving members of the Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force
  • Reservists – dedicated individuals who serve part-time as a member of the Armed Forces and take part in military and civil relief operations. Training commitments vary depending on the service but are usually between 19 and 27 days per year
  • Cadet Leaders/Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV) – someone who helps to lead, guide and inspire young people in one of the cadet forces in the UK
  • Veterans – anyone who has served for at least a day either as a regular or a reservist
  • Families of regular personnel, reservist and veterans – spouses, civil partners and children, and where appropriate can include parents, unmarried partners and other family members
  • Bereaved – family members of service personnel and veterans who have died, whether that death is connected to their service or not.

We are lucky to have a range of NHS colleagues within the Armed Forces community who were keen to embed more Armed Forces support within NECS. Thank you to our network of colleagues who highlighted the importance and the opportunities for development within the NECS offering, and also provided vital feedback and signposting to information, which guided the Health and Wellbeing team to progress the covenant application. If you would like to see our pledges alongside that of other organisations, you can visit the Armed Forces covenant website here. Our colleagues have also helped us to develop the Armed Forces internal intranet pages, where they have shared some of their own personal stories and experiences, for other NECS colleagues to read.

Here is what a few of our network colleagues had to say:

Jonathon Millington, Support Services Team Leader, ICT Services Team said: “I am immensely proud of NECS signing the Armed Forces Covenant and applying for the Bronze Employer Recognition Scheme. NECS have been supportive with my recent mobilisation to the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 and accommodating the two-week Annual Deployment Exercise (ADE)”

Mel Thomson, Health & Justice Commissioner, Children & Young People team said: “NECS signing up and being part of the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) makes me as a Veteran so proud to work for an organisation that recognises the many transferable skills a veteran can offer.  I also understand how that transition to civilian street is sometimes difficult for some, so being part of Health and Wellbeing Armed Forces Community within NECS will enable myself and others to offer support, signposting and raise awareness to not only existing members of staff of NECS, but to new members of staff also. Being part of the AFC will also ensure that we capture the goal of the NHS Long Term plan that NHS England have promised, which will expand the support for all veterans and their families as they transition out of the armed forces, regardless of when people left the services.” 

Marie Cunningham, Senior Manager, Health & Justice team said: “The signing of the Covenant is a significant step in the right direction for NECS, in recognising the skills and contribution that Armed forces and veteran personnel bring to the organisation. Veterans have a raft of transferable skills that include adaptability, resourcefulness and resilience built through years of commitment and self-discipline. As a veteran, it is a pleasure to work for an organisation that values the contribution that Armed Forces and Veterans make.”

Alex Holloway, Programme Manager, Transformation and Delivery team said: “Since retiring from the British Army, I have successfully started my second career within the National Health Service and with NECS. During my resettlement, I had not considered working in this important sector because I did not fully understand that the skills and experience of my Army career would be transferable. How wrong I was. Thanks to my service network, I was signposted to an opportunity to work in the NHS on the COVID-19 Programme, as part of the pandemic response and managing the transition towards a business-as-usual model in healthcare.

“Three years on, I continue to utilise the knowledge and skills from Defence, enhanced them with my knowledge of healthcare and I now collaborate and lead with partners, to implement the newly published National Vaccination Strategy as part of prevention agenda.

“With the help of the armed forces network in NECS, we have successfully raised the awareness of our community, their service, their families and needs but also the impact of their work within the NHS and NECS.”

Paul Kennedy, Senior Manager, Consultancy team (former Armed Forces Veteran – Army) said: “To me being veteran aware is to be an aid for the support and effective discharge of patients who are members of the Armed Forces Community. My hope is that by having signed the Armed Forces Covenant and working towards the Bronze employer recognition scheme, we will improve the experience of patients, staff and visitors from the Armed Forces Community.”

Since signing the covenant, we have also been able to apply for the bronze Employer Recognition Scheme. We hope to be awarded this in the near future, and work in collaboration with our Armed Forces colleagues once again to apply for Silver and subsequently Gold, in the future.

We also plan to continue our work with our colleagues to help with the continued Armed Forces network support and strive to support anyone joining the organisation who may be part of the Armed Forces community.

Claire Gooday, Director of Corporate Services and Organisational Development said:  “We are very proud as an organisation to employ a range of colleagues who have brought a wealth of Armed Forces experience with them to NECS.  It is our responsibility as an employer to ensure we demonstrate our commitment to support them all and any future employees joining from the Armed Forces community.

“By applying for the bronze Employer Recognition Scheme, it shows how committed NECS is to ensure this community receives all the support and training they may need.”

You can read our full signed Covenant and our pledges here