Sunderland University scoops silver award for supporting forces veterans

Sunderland's university has scooped a silver award for supporting the armed forces.

Tuesday, 21st August 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st August 2018, 7:45 am
The University of Sunderland signing of the Armed Forces Covenant. L-R: (standing) Kirsten Black, Steve Knight, Sue Brent, Warrant Officer Den Mustard, Mark Willis, Alison Rutherford and Prof Tony Alabaster. Seated: Shirley Atkinson and Major Thomas McVey.

The University of Sunderland was honoured with one of 22 silver awards to be given in the North East under the Ministry of Defence’s national Employer Recognition Scheme.

Achieving the accolade recognises the major contribution an organisation is making with initiatives such as employing veterans, supporting individuals transitioning out of the armed forces into a new career and providing flexibility for reservists.

The scheme recognises and rewards UK employers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their efforts to provide support to the wider principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.

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The Covenant, which the university signed in April this year, is a promise from the nation to treat fairly those who serve or have served, including reserves, veterans, cadets and all military families.

Professor Tony Alabaster, academic dean in the university’s faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, said: “We are delighted to have achieved the silver award, which is recognition of our commitment to supporting those who make an invaluable contribution to our nation’s defence and security, as well as through their work here with us at the university.”

The university has a longstanding relationship of mutual support with the Army’s Medical Services and in particular 251 Medical Squadron, based in Seaburn.

It has supported military training events with staff and equipment, and the Medical Squadron has attended university open days to promote the reserve service.

Two members of university staff were also given the opportunity to join 251 Squadron on their annual exercise to Kenya providing outreach primary healthcare treatments.

The university signed their Armed Forces Covenant with a pledge to establish employment opportunities for service leavers and recognise the unique skills many possess, directing them to suitable educational programmes and courses.

Professor Alabaster, said: “Our university has a longstanding proud tradition of supporting our armed forces and believe that those who serve, whether regular or reserve, should not have to face any disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.

“That is why we pledged our support with the Armed Forces Covenant as we recognise our moral obligation to the members of the Royal Navy, British Army and the Royal Air Force, together with their families. They deserve our respect, support and fair treatment.”

Warrant Officer Den Mustard, recruiting Warrant Officer for 251 Medical Squadron (Sunderland), said: “To be awarded the armed forces silver award is fantastic news and a great achievement for the University of Sunderland.

“This further demonstrates their commitment in working with both regular and reserves forces from all three services as well as service families. I can only see the relationship growing in strength and look forward to developing the links between 251 Medical Squadron and the university.”