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COMMUNITY RAF Community Support with

YOUNG PEOPLE Something to Say

by Rebecca Wakefield, RAF Regional Community Development Advisor (North)

Young people with a serving parent often face extra challenges in their life as an unintended consequence of their parent’s service. It is far from all bad, but we can all understand that sometimes life can get a bit tough for children and young people when the family is moving regularly or separated for long periods of time. Many RAF units are miles from anywhere exciting (from a young person’s point of view); the extended family often live far away and there are additional pressures when the serving parent is deployed.


ne of the priorities for the MoD Children and Young People’s Trust Board is to ensure that the voice of

young people within our communicty is taken into account with the policy makers. The Tri-Service Youth Forum held at Baden Powell House, London, in November was funded by the Royal British Legion and acted as the starting point for developing effective ways for young people within armed forces families to share their experiences, express their concerns and be involved in influencing decisions affecting them and their families.

Young people from families across the Services, including some from overseas, came together to present their views to

a panel which included representatives from the Directorate Children and Young People the three Services, the Families Federations, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Royal British Legion. The messages were effectively delivered and the panel members undertook to take the issues back to their respective organisations. Many of the points raised are already forming the basis for further work.

Amongst the issues raised were feelings of isolation from the local civilian community and not feeling as if they quite belonged to it. Another was isolation on a base – not always particularly young people friendly. Disruption to their education was another, particularly a lack of continuity in curriculum and standards. Disruption to friendships was keenly felt as was the impact of redundancy on some families.

Young people are a vibrant part of any community with much to offer, they have high expectations and strong opinions and most of the time are enormously resilient to the forces lifestyle. Somewhere to go, something to do and friends to do it with will satisfy most young people. It is also important to them to have their views listened to and their concerns and issues understood.

The Armed Services Community Development staff are working to develop Youth Participation initiatives so decisions at all levels are made with the needs of young people in mind. It is very important that those working with young people ‘get it’ and understand that being a member of a Forces family does make life tough sometimes, and ensure that schools and local services deliver what young people need and want.

Community Development Officers, with the help of the RAFBF Airplay Youth Support Project, are working with young people in RAF communities to develop youth forums at a local level. They are also looking at ways to take best advantage of the opportunities emerging for young people to have direct access to decision makers in their own communities and their schools, service charities, Air Command, the MoD and at Westminster.

Young people who are interested in playing an active role in this work should contact the RAF Community Development Officer or Airplay Station Youth Worker nearest to where they live (you don’t have to live at an RAF unit) or contact RAF Community Support:

48 Envoy Spring 2013

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