A CAMPAIGN supported by Tameside Council has succeeded in having a question about armed services membership added to next year's census.
This means public bodies such as local authorities, charities and the Royal British Legion (RBL) will receive previously overlooked yet vital information that will enable them to properly meet the needs of serving personnel, veterans and their families.
As a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant, a public commitment to ensuring its services are fully accessible to past and present members of the military, Tameside was only too willing to join the RBL-led drive to have the extra question added to the ten-yearly survey of the UK population.
Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council's armed forces champion, said: "Having a better understanding of the profile and needs of veterans in our borough is a key part of making sure our services are tailored to those in uniform, veterans and their families. I welcome this historic change to include a question on the armed forces in the 2021 census.
Charles Byrne, director general of the Royal British Legion, added: "This is an extremely proud moment for us.
"This is something we have been striving towards for many years and it will have a huge impact on service personnel, veterans and their families well into the future, as the outcome will allow us to provide more effective care and support to those in need."
It's estimated there are at least 2.4 million ex-forces personnel living in Great Britain who make up part of a wider community that includes their husbands, wives, partners and children, as well as those who are widowed. However, there is very little definitive information about where these people live and what their needs might be.
Individual pledges of support for the campaign can be posted on social media using the hashtag #CountThemIn More details are available by visiting www.rbl.org.uk/campaigns
Count Them In is the RBL's ongoing drive to champion the interests, welfare and contribution of the armed services community.
Tameside Council pursues similar goals through its armed forces covenant team. Among its many achievements are the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme gold award, the inclusion of military service in medical records, an identification card to ease access to services, and a very active and successful armed forces community group.