Leeds City Council renews its commitment and support for the Armed Forces Covenant: AFC signing 3

28 Nov 2023

Leeds City Council renews its commitment and support for the Armed Forces Covenant

Armed Forces/Remembrance

Leeds City Council has renewed its commitment to supporting armed forces personnel, reservists, veterans, and cadets after being recognised with the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) 2023 Gold Award earlier this year.

In a small ceremony in the Ark Royal Room at Leeds Civic Hall on Friday 24 November, the Lord Mayor reaffirmed the council’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, which was first signed in 2012. 

The Armed Forces Covenant aims to:

  • Encourage local communities to support the Armed Forces community in their area.
  • Nurture understanding and awareness amongst the public of the issues affecting the Armed Forces community. 
  • Recognise and remember the sacrifices faced by the Armed Forces community. 
  • Encourage activities which help to integrate the Armed Forces Community into local life.
  • Encourage the Armed Forces community to help and support the wider community, whether through participation in events and joint projects, or other forms of engagement.

In the four years since Leeds’s last recommitment of the covenant, the armed forces have faced several serious challenges. These include helping to contain, manage, and treat the COVID-19 pandemic; effectively responding to a rise in international tensions, and working on several humanitarian relief efforts following natural disasters.

Throughout this challenging period, Leeds City Council has continued to support the Covenant’s aims and objectives, which culminated in being granted the Ministry of Defence’s prestigious Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award. More widely, the Covenant continues to be supported by the city's public, private, and third-sector organisations. 

Commenting, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, said: “As someone who grew up in a military family, I recognise many of the issues members of the armed forces, reservists, and veterans face while serving and in civilian life.

“Therefore, it gives me great pleasure and pride to help renew Leeds City Council’s commitment to the armed forces covenant. We must recognise the sacrifices of service personnel and their families in defending and protecting the country’s interests and make it as easy as possible for them to transition back to civilian life once their service has been completed.”

The Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis, said: “We in Leeds are very proud of our strong and historic links with our armed forces.

As with everything, we take a Team Leeds approach to fulfilling our commitments to the Armed Forces Covenant, working across the council, businesses, and the third sector to provide to best possible services and resources.

“These efforts have been recognised with the ERS Gold Award, of which we are very proud. The award reflects the incredible work being done to make Leeds as armed forces friendly as possible. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved.

Leeds City Council’s Armed Forces Champions, Councillor Jane Dowson, Councillor Caroline Gruen, and Councillor Gohar Almass, said:

“As we mark the honour of being awarded the ERS Gold Award and embark on the next phase of the Covenant’s work, it is important to re-commit and re-emphasise the city’s continuing support for the Armed Forces Covenant.

“As a council, we want to ensure there is a package of meaningful support and help to members of the Armed Forces who may be thinking of returning to civilian life. Veterans also remain a priority and were instrumental in helping Leeds City Council introduce the Armed Forces Covenant in 2012.

“While the Armed Forces Community Covenant has now been in place for over 11 years, we continue to work closely across the city with organisations and businesses to ensure our community of veterans, cadets, reservists, and serving forces personnel have the support they and their families need. 

“As an organisation, we continue to review and develop our support package to ensure we offer the best possible service. The re-signing of the Covenant reflects the updates we have made over the past four years.”

Joining Leeds City Council’s Armed Forces Champions, Councillor Jane Dowson, Councillor Caroline Gruen, and Councillor Gohar Almass at the ceremony were the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Stan Hardy; The High Sheriff of West Yorkshire, Zulfi Karim DL; Leeds City Council CEO, Tom Riordan; The Lord Mayor’s Consort, Alderwoman Angela Gabriel; Commander David Noakes of the Royal Navy, Andy Black and Paul Martin representing the Ministry of Defence; Jeff Gantschuck, Luke Lancaster, and Matt Ramsey of the Royal British Legion, Derek Cross and Terry Sanson of SAFFA and other distinguished guests.

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team