Bridgwater and West Somerset Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger MP has pledged his whole-hearted support for a campaign to raise awareness of the needs of serving and ex-members of the armed services.
He’s signed up to the Royal British Legion’s ‘Count Them In’ initiative, which calls for questions on the armed forces community to be included in the next UK census.
There are believed to be between 6.5 million and 6.7 million members of the armed forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population, but little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group.
Campaign leaders say including new questions on the next census would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for its members.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said he had been delighted to meet those behind the campaign and offer whatever help they needed to raise its profile.
“It’s Armed Forces Day this Saturday but sadly, that’s only likely to register with a small proportion of the population amid all the other momentous events that are taking place,” he said.
“But in a way that typifies the way in which those who serve their country and keep us safe are so often overlooked, apart from when they are getting killed or injured in action.
“We currently know more about the UK’s Jedi community than we do about our armed forces and that cannot be right. Our servicemen and women, veterans and their families are effectively hidden from official statistics, and that’s why I’m backing the call for new questions to be added to the next census. We count on them – let’s count them in.”
Director-General of The Royal British Legion Chris Simpkins, said: “As a nation we promise to provide lifelong care and support for those who serve our country.
“By adding questions to the 2021 census, we can help public bodies and charities deliver the best services they can for our armed forces community, when and where it is needed most.”
Constituents can find out more about the campaign by visiting the campaign website, www.britishlegion.org.uk/census, or by posting their own pledge of support on social media using the #CountThemIn hashtag.