Royal Air Force families enjoyed a wide range of organised activities this National Family Week (30 May – 5 June 2011), supported by Airplay, the RAF Benevolent Fund’s £24 million youth support programme.
Children and parents living on RAF stations across the UK were invited to events ranging from family picnics to juggling classes as part of a national drive to provide more quality time for hard pressed RAF families.
The Airplay programme provides trained youth workers – delivered by the national charity 4Children – at RAF stations across the country, who helped run many of the Family Week activities.
Airplay is also building brand new, state of the art games and play facilities and childcare centres for young people living on RAF stations.
Paul Hughesdon, Director of Welfare and Policy for the RAF Benevolent Fund said: "The National Family Week survey shows how difficult it is for parents across the UK to get the time they want with their children.
"For members of the Armed Forces, operational pressures make this problem particularly acute. That’s why we have developed our Airplay programme – to help the RAF give serving families the support they need and deserve. It also helps to relieve stress at home and on the front line."
RAF personnel organise some activities for young people on stations, but due to increased operational commitments, staff no longer have the same capacity to do this. Many parents deploy overseas at short notice and for extended periods.
Airplay Youth Workers help fill the gap, giving RAF Community Support teams the additional trained staffing support they need. On top of this, Airplay games areas and play parks give RAF children easy access to state-of-the-art facilities on stations that are often in isolated and rural locations.
Meg, the Community Development Officer at a busy RAF station, said: "Having Airplay Youth Workers to support me, means that I am not trying to squeeze the planning and delivery of youth activities into a job which is already very busy!
"It means that RAF children get more organised sessions and the Youth Workers' professionalism and enthusiastic approach ensures that activities are carefully planned and provide the young people with the best opportunities possible."
Example of activities taking place this week include:
- RAF Benson – circus skills, orienteering and mosaic design
- RAF High Wycombe – archery, face painting and climbing wall
- RAF Wittering – trip to seaside, family picnic and street art workshop
Charles Ellis, Deputy Chief Executive of 4Children said: "It is great that so many RAF families have been able to take part in activities this week – they work extremely hard and deserve all the support they can get.
"We're delighted that Airplay Youth Workers are working so well with RAF Community Development staff to put on such a diverse range of activities for all the family.
"With personnel on active duty in both Libya and Afghanistan it is really important for families to come together and have fun wherever possible."