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Representing the highest badge of honour, the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Awards are awarded to those that employ and support those who serve, veterans and their families.

To win an award, organisations must provide 10 extra paid days leave for Reservists and have supportive HR policies in place for veterans, Reserves, and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, as well as spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces.

Organisations must also advocate the benefits of supporting those within the Armed Forces community by encouraging others to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and engage in the MoD Employer Recognition Scheme. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

The University is home to the Westminster Centre for Research in  Veterans which aims to support the military community through innovative and high quality research, educational provision and community engagement. Colonel (Rtd) Alan Finnegan, Professor of Nursing and Military Health is the University’s Armed Forces Champion and develops and supports the University’s Armed Forces Network as well as being Director of the Centre.

The University is part of numerous national and international military networks that are striving to support and improve the health and well-being of the Armed Forces Community. Locally, University is a member of the Cheshire Armed Forces Covenant Partnership, which is a commitment by civilian organisations in collaboration with the MoD to support the Armed Forces community. It is an opportunity to recognise the value of serving personnel, both regulars and reservists, veterans and military families and their contribution to the UK. 

The Cheshire Armed Forces Covenant Partnership comprises Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington Councils, the NHS, Clinical Commissioning Groups, charities, the Department of Work and Pensions, the emergency services, veterans, military families and the MoD and the University of Chester.

Professor Finnegan is Chair of this Committee, which enables the University access to networks and information sharing which in turn gives the ability to provide members of our own internal Armed Forces Network with the relevant advice, guidance and practical support that may be needed by this community.

In today’s announcement 140 organisations from across the UK (18 in North West England), including NHS trusts, educational institutions, financial services, hotels, charities, law firms, police services, football clubs and museums have received the award.

Professor Alan Finnegan said: “I am extremely proud that the University has received this Gold award. This is the culmination of several years of hard work to ensure the University of Chester is a recognised national and international leader in supporting our Armed Forces Community.

“The Westminster Veterans Research Centre has helped many other organisations to engage in this incredibly important initiative. Without our staff commitment, motivation and determination, then we would not have got this far and I need to acknowledge the brilliant contribution of my colleague Lottie Ainsworth-Moore. That said, I would like to say thank you to everyone from across the University who has worked so hard to make it happen. This award is their award, and a reflection of their loyalty and steadfastness in supporting those who have served and their families.”

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