Families at RAF Odiham have received activity packs to help keep children occupied during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. The activity packs are the result of a grant awarded by the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity.
The Fund has made £2,500 available for each RAF station to provide an activity and wellbeing pack for RAF children who will be missing out on its Airplay youth support sessions which have been temporarily paused.
The packs provided to families at RAF Odiham included craft activities, colouring pens and crayons, badges, puzzles, card games, a No Worries book for anxious children and a Cloud Nine handbook.
Group Captain Nick Knight, Station Commander at RAF Odiham, said: "We are dealing with unprecedented circumstances. Coronavirus has been labelled as a once in a century occurrence and presents a number of concerns for our people ranging from personal anxiety over health issues, to financial and childcare responsibilities.
"The RAF Benevolent Fund has again recognised these challenges and supported our service personnel and their families both in terms of financial support, which has enabled the purchase and distribution of the welfare activities packs, but they have also increased their mental health support through increased online tools. Thank you, RAF Benevolent Fund."
The Fund provides financial, emotional and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families. This includes grants to help with financial difficulty, specialist advice on benefits, support with care needs, and more. In 2019, the RAF Benevolent Fund spent almost £200,000 supporting personnel and their families at RAF Odiham.
Sarah Squire, a parent at RAF Odiham, added: "My seven- and eight-year-old children have shown real resilience with the changes that the coronavirus pandemic has brought upon us. Unfortunately, this coincided with my husband being deployed.
"We'd tried to prepare them, but the lack of routine made this harder than expected. Bored and frustrated, they began taking it out on each other. Thankfully, the activity pack arrived just in time. Looking through the worry book helped them understand and express their feelings better, and now they can put their badges on every day to feel closer to their daddy."
Jemma Mullan, a mother-of-three at RAF Odiham, agreed: "The current crisis has been tough on us, so the activity packs have been a big help. I work in an emergency department so we decided as a family that it would be safest for me move away from the family home to protect the children.
"Our eldest has always found it hard being a military child, so the book helping with his emotions was a great way to divert his attention elsewhere and show him different ways to manage his feelings. The younger two had been harder to keep entertained, so these activities have really saved the day."