Bedford Borough Council HQ Image:Bedford Borough Council

The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.

As part of their efforts to support our armed forces, reservists, veterans and their families, the Council signed the Armed Forces Covenant and has a number of measures in place to help these individuals in their day-to-day lives.

These include extra leave for reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers to complete training and the creation of a Force Family Focus Group to help employees with a forces link to meet and access support.

The Council also provides guaranteed interviews for service leavers within two months of discharge and five years of leaving for veterans, and for reservists, where essential criteria for a role are met.

The Council also engages with and supports a wide range of local armed forces organisations including the Veterans Community Network through the Councils’ Covenant Steering Group.

This group meets every two months and includes representatives from local regular and reserve forces and other armed forces charities, to share news and information.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said:

“We are delighted to have achieved the Silver Award. We strive to support members of the forces, past and present, and their families, both in terms of our service delivery and in our workforce practices.

“We recognise the value members of this community bring to our organisation and our HR policy supports applications from them.

“Our active Steering Group covers a wide range of topics with guest speakers from local military partners, charities, statutory bodies and MoD departments and we are proud to have supported the development of a local Armed Forces charity that is changing lives in Bedford Borough.”

Johanna Hrycak, armed forces covenant project manager at Bedford Borough Council, and Army Reservist, said:

“The support I have received from colleagues during my time at Bedford Borough Council has been incredible.

“I never feel uncomfortable when asking for special leave to conduct my mandatory Military annual training; quite the opposite, as managers show a keen interest in my reservist career and really appreciate the value the additional training brings to the organisation.

“My husband, also a reservist, recently deployed on operations for six months. The understanding, care and flexibility that was afforded me was hugely helpful.

“It was so much easier keeping the family and home life ticking over, knowing I had the full support from my managers in the workplace.

“A recent internal survey helped identify other colleagues with a forces link, so now we have a forces network which has been great for making new friends and sharing lived experience with others with an armed forces background.”