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Family life 'behind the wire'

Airplay is our project that supports young people growing up on RAF stations. Some of these young people recently got together at a youth forum. Fiona, our press officer, tells us more in this blog.

On Sunday I got the opportunity to join 50 young people from RAF, Royal Navy and Army families for the first ever Tri-Service Youth Forum.

Airplay youth workers

The event, which was organised by the MoD and sponsored by the Royal British Legion, aimed to provide a forum for young people from Services families to share experiences and identify common issues which  they experience as part of everyday life. On Sunday, they had the opportunity to present their concerns and issues to key stakeholders and supporters.

The young people were incredibly honest; sharing their personal experiences of life as part of a Service family. For example, what it’s like to have a parent deployed overseas, often at very short notice. Redundancy, constant moving, disrupted schooling and isolation were just a few of the areas discussed.

It was a great opportunity for someone like me, who’s grown up on 'civvy-street', to hear about the issues these young people face as part of everyday life within the Service community. Having to periodically pack-up and move, change schools and make new friends was not really something I had to worry about on top of general teenage angst.

One young girl said, "Over time leaving friends becomes easier, making them doesn't", which really brought home how difficult it can be for young children when their parents are regularly posted.  As a result, young people can end up moving school at critical times, such as during exam years. Another boy spoke about the frustration of moving between schools and having to re-sit an entire year.

Young people are an important part of the RAF family and the requirement to provide programmes of activities and a support network to meet their needs has been recognised by the RAF Benevolent Fund and is something very dear to its heart.

Airplay is the RAF Benevolent Fund's £24 million support programme for children and young people living in the RAF community. As part of this programme it has commissioned the charity, 4Children, to provide a network of over 70 trained youth workers on stations.  It has also built and equipped childcare centres, play parks and other recreational facilities for children and young people on or near some 25 RAF stations across the UK.

The RAF Benevolent Fund has developed this project as part of its commitment to relieving strain on RAF parents and their children wherever it can.

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