Gordon has praised the work of local Armed Forces champions, past and present in a House of Commons debate on the Armed Forces Covenant.
He touched on the work of the late Marton Councillor Jim Houldsworth, who he said was “instrumental” in Blackpool signing up to the Covenant. Gordon also praised the work of the town’s current Forces Champion Councillor Chris Ryan for “actively” continuing this work.
He said: “Blackpool has a proud tradition of supporting the Forces and in 2011 we were the first town in the North West to sign up to the Covenant. People like the late Jim Houldsworth deserve an enormous amount of credit and I am also proud of our current Forces Champion Chris Ryan, who is carrying on this important work across the town.”
Gordon, who is also Labour’s Shadow Skills and Apprenticeships Minister used the debate on the Covenant to challenge the Government to give more support for skills and training that enables for those leaving the force to make their way transition back to civilian life. This was one of the main points of discussion at his second local Blackpool and Fylde Armed Forces Roundtable held at Holy Trinity in South Shore just before Remembrance Day in November.
He said: “There are many leaving the armed forces now at a younger age, in many cases having experienced very traumatic circumstances. However, they do not always find that the skills or qualifications that they have gained in the forces are being readily recognised in civvy street.”
Gordon urged the Government to look at this and cited the Annual Covenant Report for 2016 which quoted statistics showing that leaving age veterans had shown there was a “low satisfaction” with the training and skills transition available for people making the transition from the Forces to civilian life.
He added: “I speak not only as a local MP, but as the Shadow Minister for Skills on this situation. We are not doing justice to our troops and armed services if they leave with qualifications and skills that cannot be easily transferable.”
Speaking after the debate Gordon added: “I was glad to have been able to speak about Blackpool's proud record in supporting veterans and our Armed Forces over recent years. The fact that our next Mayor, Ian Coleman, has been the President of our Royal British Legion Club raising £137, 500 for them for 26 years with his annual Poppython which I have supported exemplifies that record.
“The Government needs to do its part though by beefing up skills and training support for service leavers and intervening actively to protect the personal support and advice that veterans charities give but which is now at risk. The recent decision by Combat Stress to withdraw such support is very worrying and as Chair of Parliament's all party Veterans Group I will continue to press both the Veterans Minister and Theresa May to live up to their responsibilities in this area.”