COMPTON Verney has become the first museum or gallery in the UK to sign a pledge to support servicemen and veterans.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a voluntary pledge from businesses, charities and other organisations to show their support for the armed forces community. It aims to redress disadvantages they may face in comparison to other citizens, and to recognise the sacrifices made.
Dr Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney, explains why they decided to get involved.
“We are always looking to welcome a new audience and play a greater role in the local community. There are around 45,000 ex-service people in Warwickshire, 27,000 of who live in the adjacent Warwick and Stratford districts near Compton Verney. “When they leave their roles within the forces, we would like to extend an invitation for them to consider becoming an employee of, or volunteer with, the gallery and park. Signing the covenant is indicative of the leading role Compton Verney plays in developing new solutions to ensure the heritage sector’s future diversity, resilience and continued relevance.”
Over the past year, the gallery has established a relationship with the local armed forces community. This has already resulted in forces staff assisting with a number of public events.
Sheila Stephenson, Community Engagement Officer with Headquarters 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade, said: “Escapism through creativity has long been associated with the military at times of war – poetry, cartoons, music, the conversion of items of military hardware into sculpture.
“However, the arts is an area which the army is not traditionally associated as having close relationships with. It is, however, a sector of society that we wish to partner with in order to better integrate our service community and improve their local networks and quality of life.”
* THE WARWICKSHIRE branch of the Armed Forces Charity SSAFA has launched a new ‘Friends of SSAFA’ campaign.
With the aim of increasing awareness about SSAFA’s events in the region, the campaign hopes to attract more people to sign up to the charity’s contact list.
Currently, more than 600 families and individuals are supported in the county by SSAFA every year – ranging from homeless veterans to those leaving the military to find work in civilian life, and the widows and children of those killed in action.
Chairman Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Caley CBE TD said: “We are launching a ‘call to arms’ for local people to become friends of the SSAFA and support us by going onto our contact list with a view to receiving an annual invitation to either of our major fundraising events.”
Email [email protected] if you’re interested in becoming a ‘Friend of SSAFA’.
* Compton Verney has been awarded £36,000 from the DCMS / Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.
The money is for the redisplay of its Folk Art collection, which is one of the largest and most important collections of this genre in the UK.