'More is known about the Jedi than armed forces community' - Sheffield MP

MP Gill Furniss and a veteran launch the campaign.
MP Gill Furniss and a veteran launch the campaign.

A Sheffield MP is backing a campaign to map the size and scale of the armed forces community - after claiming more is known about the fictional 'Jedi' religion in Star Wars.

It has been estimated that there could be up to 6.7 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population, which includes as many as 73, 000 veterans in Sheffield and Rotherham alone.

READ MORE: FEATURE: South Yorkshire military survey 'could help save veterans' lives'
However, Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss said little is known about the exact numbers, location and needs of the group.

Indeed she claimed more is known about the UK's 'Jedi' population - a reference to the 2001 census in which nearly 400, 000 people in the UK declared their religion as Jedi, the fictional organisation from the Star Wars film series.

She has now declared her support for The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland’s ‘Count Them In’ campaign, which calls for the Armed Forces community to be included as a topic in the next Census in 2021.

Campaign leaders claim this would provide public bodies, local authorities and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can serving and former ex-forces personnel and their families.

The MP said: “Members of the Armed Forces community make huge sacrifices in the service of our country.

"I was very disappointed to learn that we currently know more about the UK’s Jedi community than we do about our Armed Forces.

"It cannot be right that 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 UK Census. We count on them – let’s count them in.”

The campaign comes after the launch last year of the South Yorkshire Armed Forces Survey by Sheffield Hallam University, South Yorkshire councils and York St John University.

READ MORE: Armed Forces and Veteran's Day march through Sheffield
The survey is open until May 11 and everyone in the armed forces community in the area including serving and former armed forces personnel and their families are urged to take part.

The information will be used to tailor services that could support the community in the best areas possible.

To complete the survey visit https://tinyurl.com/y8yv8lu and for more information about the campaign visit www.britishlegion.org.uk/census