Portsmouth unveils plan to become a 'shining light' for how military heroes leaving the forces can be treated

PORTSMOUTH will become a shining beacon for other cities to follow in how it supports Britain’s armed forces heroes.

That is the potent pledge today being issued by business leaders across the city as they unveiled new plans to make Portsmouth the nation’s ‘Mecca’ for veterans.

Stef Nienaltowski, who heads up Shaping Portsmouth, is on a mission to sign more city companies up to join the Armed Forces Covenant.

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Pictured: Stef Nienaltowski, head of Shaping Portsmouth has vowed to make Portsmouth the Picture: Habibur Rahman

The scheme represents a promise by the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly and aren’t disadvantaged by their military service.

In the past few months, Shaping Portsmouth has already doubled the number of businesses committing to back the covenant from 35 to 70.

But Mr Nienaltowski aims to increase this even further, with ambitions of making Portsmouth the best place to live for veterans.

‘I’m in no doubt that within five years this city will be number one in the county for Armed Forces Covenant pledge support,’ he told The News. ‘We will be the beacon for other cities to follow.’

Stef Nienaltowski head of Shaping Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

Mr Nienaltowski said that over the next couple of years he hopes to encourage ‘hundreds more’ companies to pledge to join the Armed Forces Covenant.

Shaping Portsmouth wants to create new ‘speed dating’ sessions for those leaving the forces to speak to business leaders.

As well as banging the drum for more businesses to jump on board with the scheme, Shaping also aims to show the valuable skills military veterans can bring to the table.

‘What the armed forces give us when they leave the service is a massively valuable set of employees,’ he said. ‘Their training, skill base, motivation and discipline are massively beneficial to any business.’

But despite his ambitions, Mr Nienaltowski stressed that it was critical businesses who did decide to join the city’s forces campaign were ‘genuinely committed’ to the scheme.

‘This is not a numbers game, this is a commitment,’ added the business boss. ‘This is about people who are committed to the essence of the covenant. That pledge is not just to sign this and put a tick in the box.’