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Issue 27 Winter 2012/13

Row2Recovery Atlantic row raises ÂŁ1million Camo Day 20,000 children blend in for SSAFA


contents

welcome to news & views

Headlines ............................................................................ 3 Association News

Welcome to the Winter edition of News&Views. I am writing this the week after Remembrance Sunday, which, once again, reminds us why the work of SSAFA Forces Help is so important.

Easing transition into civilian life ..................................... 4 SSAFA Mentoring Scheme update 20,000 make Camo Day a roaring success ..................... 6 Camo Day ignites children’s imagination around the country Row2Recovery ................................................................... 8 Alex Mackenzie and Rory Mackenzie talk to SSAFA about their row across the Atlantic Stephen’s War .................................................................. 11 Stephen Lewis’ World War II experiences

SSAFA continues to adapt to meet changing needs and you can read how our mentoring scheme pilot is already improving lives. Celebrating 50 years, our Social Work Service has helped many military families over the decades. Thank you to everyone that has sent me a volunteer story, I am only sorry we do not have space to include them all. I look forward to receiving photos and reading about your events for our Summer 2013 edition.

Stronger Together ........................................................... 12 Launching the Military Wives Choirs Foundation The Sun Never Sets.......................................................... 14 50 years of our Social Work Service

Gabriele Black Editor

Volunteer News................................................................. 16 Volunteer events from around the world A Forever Family .............................................................. 18 Our Adoption Service Conference

Editor: Gabriele Black

The final word… from the Controller.............................. 19

Editorial contributors: Michael Ivatt, Sarah Viner, Lucy Walters

Art Director: Yaél Dean

Please send all feedback on News & Views to gabi.b@ssafa.org.uk Closing date for contributions for Summer 2013 1st April 2013. The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – Forces Help 19 Queen Elizabeth Street, London SE1 2LP T 020 7403 8783 F 020 7403 8815 E info@ssafa.org.uk www.ssafa.org.uk facebook.com/SSAFAFH twitter.com/SSAFAForcesHelp

Registered Charity Number 210760 & SC038056. Established 1885.

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Cover photograph: Pupils from Burysfield School, Odiham, salute Camo Day. news & views winter 12/13


headlines

British Forces Germany Healthcare SSAFA Forces Help will be continuing to provide healthcare for members of the British Forces community in Germany after a successful contract bid in partnership with Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital.

No.10 Reception On Tuesday 23rd October, Samantha Cameron welcomed SSAFA Forces Help volunteers, clients and staff to a reception held at 10 Downing Street. Amongst those attending were Paralympic rower, Captain Nick Beighton, who was joined by his mother, Sue, and sister Frances, both of whom stayed at SSAFA Norton House, Headley Court, after Nick was injured in Afghanistan.

Julie Quinn, Deputy Controller (Health & Social Care), said: “Caring for the military community is at the heart of everything SSAFA does. We understand the challenges of Service life and have a long tradition of providing high quality healthcare. Importantly, unlike commercial organisations, any surplus we make goes back to the community through SSAFA’s charitable projects.”

Big Brew Up 2012 Thank you so much to everyone who took part in The Big Brew Up 2012! We hope that your event went well and that you enjoyed yourself with friends, family or colleagues. This year more than 600 Big Brew Ups took place all over the world including Germany, Nepal, Cyprus, France and even Columbia! Look out for 2013 details at thebigbrewup.org.uk.

New Controller Air Vice-Marshal The Honourable David Murray CVO, OBE, RAF joined SSAFA Forces Help as our new Controller on Monday 29th October. David served in the RAF for 33 years, most recently within the MoD as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel) and Defence Services Secretary. news & views winter 12/13

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The SSAFA Mentoring Scheme pilot is now in full swing. David Henderson tells us what it means to him.

Fiona & David

easing transition to

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aking the transition from Army to civilian life can be challenging at the best of times but when your military career is cut unexpectedly short through injury or poor health the process can be that much harder. Being medically discharged throws a long-term career plan into disarray and often soldiers find themselves needing to find both a new home and a new job. Now a pilot scheme run by SSAFA Forces Help is providing them with much-needed one-toone support through the difficult process. David Henderson left the Army in September 2012 after serving eight years. The 26-year-old had a successful career as a Corporal with Three Rifles but is now temporarily living with his parents in Newcastle. He said: “Although I only officially left the Army in September I have been living at my parents address for more than a year now. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in February this year but it came from incidents that happened

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when I was serving in Afghanistan in 2009/10.” David was introduced to his SSAFA mentor, Fiona Wakefield, while he was still serving and the pair now meet regularly in Newcastle. “It was a joint decision to leave the Army but I didn’t want to be completely cut off after leaving as I used to have people I could speak to at the Personnel Recovery Unit in Catterick if I needed to,” David said. “When they told me about the SSAFA Mentoring Scheme I didn’t need persuading. It was arranged for me to see Fiona and she came down to Catterick to meet me. It really helps to just continue that process of having someone to talk to. It is important to have someone to speak to outside of the family who will help keep me on track.” Fiona is a mental health nurse working in service improvement for Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust and has also been a SSAFA caseworker for 18 months. She said: “Both my parents were in the RAF. I was

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mentoring

Charity and the Army Central Fund. Nick Booth, CEO of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, said: “The Foundation is delighted to be supporting this important project. It is vital that we provide every support possible to those members of the military, who are making the transition back into the civilian community, and we believe the provision of a dedicated mentor will be an extremely beneficial part of this process.” The service is being evaluated by the Charities Evaluation Service with a view to rolling it out at the end of the pilot in April 2013. It currently has 38 live mentoring relationships, including two veterans and the wife of a Service leaver, with another five relationships being established. SSAFA’s Project Manager Mentoring Support, Graham Liley, said: “This is a groundbreaking service for our wounded, injured and sick Service leavers. We have recruited some amazing and most dedicated mentors and, considering the long term nature of mentoring relationships, already we are seeing many positive results amongst those we are mentoring.” Meanwhile, David is finding it hard to see how the skills he acquired in the Army will transfer to civilian life and is currently weighing up his employment prospects.

civilian life

He said: “I’m not one hundred per cent sure what kind of employment I want to do. I’ve been looking at shortterm options but long-term I really don’t know. It really helps to talk to someone else who isn’t emotionally involved and Fiona will be even more important now I have left the Army.” n

an Army cadet and then an Army Cadet Force instructor for 14 years, so volunteering for SSAFA seemed an obvious step for me. “David has been in the Army for eight years so the transition can be potentially quite difficult for him. Mainly we talk about what he is going to do now that he is out of the Army. At the moment we are just getting to know each other and building rapport. I’m not really offering advice or opinions, just listening or asking appropriate questions. I feel privileged to be able to help someone with their transition to civilian life.” The 18-month pilot project has seen 49 people successfully complete the training. Some have a Service background and others are SSAFA caseworkers, but many have no previous connection to the Armed Forces. Run in partnership with the Army Recovery Capability, the pilot is being funded by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, The Forces in Mind Trust, ABF The Soldiers’

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Mentors at their training course

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20,000

children make Camo Day a roaring success!

SSAFA Forces Help’s new fundraising event gave children a chance to dress up and learn more about our Armed Forces.

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s the sixth annual Armed Forces Day approached, school children up and down the country and across military communities, as far afield as Germany and Cyprus, were preparing to, “dress up, blend in and put their money in the tin”, for SSAFA’s inaugural Camo Day. Camo Day 2012 fell on the 29th June, the Friday before Armed Forces Day, helping to secure the support of 126 schools and more than 20,000 children. Activities varied from school to school with some children using the opportunity to create a more exciting ‘home clothes’ day, whilst others

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were treated to exploring RAF search and rescue boats, learning how to apply camo cream and taking part in Army PT sessions. After raising a wonderful £13,704 through the initiative, plans are already afoot for an even bigger and better Camo Day next year, with dates confirmed for the 21st and 28th June for Scotland and England respectively. Keep an eye on www.ssafa.org.uk for more information regarding events taking place in a school near you and other exciting Camo Day updates! n

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camo day

news & views summer 12/13

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Row2Rec

People do many inspiring activities to raise funds for SSAFA. Alex Mackenzie and Rory Mackenzie tell us about their ‘mission’ to row across the Atlantic.

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ore people have been to Space than have rowed across the Atlantic, but earlier this year a crew of injured soldiers added their names to that list against all the odds. Dubbed the Row2Recovery (R2R), their epic voyage from the Canary Islands to Barbados aimed to raise £1million to support and inspire injured service personnel and their families.

that didn’t break was us and most of us were already broken.”

“Our crossing took 50 days, 23 hours and 12 minutes. Everything broke. In fact the only thing

“We had some pretty major setbacks,” he admits. “There were two things that could end your

Although he has now left the Army, co-founder Alex Mackenzie still describes the Row2Recovery project as a “mission” and believes the crew’s military background helped them overcome the many problems they encountered on the 3,000mile crossing.

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overy crossing, one your water maker breaks and two, your rudder breaks, and both of those things happened to us. We had to be pretty resourceful.”

The trip was the idea of Alex and close friend Ed Janvrin, who he met at Sandhurst. Both men had seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving with the Parachute Regiment and the Gurkhas respectively, and were inspired to do the race after their close friend Tony Harris lost his left leg in an IED explosion. Alex said: “Part of the audience we wanted to reach was the person who is sitting in his hospital bed who has just been blown up and is having to reassess his entire life. We wanted to show what was still possible. “When we started the project it was just Ed and I and we took a lot of advice and started building a plan. Someone said if you guys want to represent the wounded you should get them involved, so we did.” The project was 18 months in the planning and the pair were putting in 30 hour weeks on top of their day jobs. They aim to raise £1million for SSAFA Forces Help, Help for Heroes and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

interview

something potentially quite dangerous.” The final crew included Lieutenant Will Dixon, a platoon commander with Third Battalion, The Rifles, who lost his left leg below the knee in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in December 2009; Corporal Neil Heritage, of the Royal Signals bomb disposal team, who required a double above-knee amputation after a suicide bomber detonated a device in Iraq in November 2004; Corporal Rory Mackenzie, a company medic attached to 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment, who lost his right leg in January 2007 in a roadside bomb in Basra; and Lance Corporal Carl Anstey, of First Battalion, the Rifles, who was hit by the blast from a rocketpropelled grenade in Afghanistan in January 2009 leaving him with a shattered femur and severed sciatic nerve. Rory Mackenzie was the new boy of the team after being called up as a replacement a couple of months before they left. Coincidentally, Alex had been his platoon commander during a spell in the Parachute Regiment, but when Rory sustained a stress fracture in training he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Alex said: “We wanted to challenge what was possible in life and inspire people in the wounded community. I think that was what motivated us the most.

The South African said: “I had been struggling with the idea of having one leg as a civilian. If you see a soldier in uniform with one leg you know how he lost his leg but if you see a civilian with one leg I felt they were perceived differently. I don’t know if it’s true but that’s how I felt.

“We tried to select charities that were as inclusive as possible that support the wounded through the various stages in their care. I think in many ways when someone gets injured it’s worse for their families because they have no control. SSAFA provides a lot of that longer term support and looks after the families.”

“I was at a prosthetics appointment at Headley Court and on the notice board was a flyer with a picture of a rowing boat on an ocean and a beautiful sunset and it said ‘have you got what it takes to row across the Atlantic?’ and it was for three charities that I have a personal connection with.

Supporting families was also something the R2R team had to consider and they worked hard to keep loved ones up to date with their progress during the weeks at sea.

“The SSAFA Norton Homes are a great idea. My mum came over from South Africa the day after I was wounded in 2007 and it was touch and go for about a week but I pulled through. My mother basically said, ‘I gave you a son with two legs and I’m not leaving until you give me back a son with two legs’ which was difficult for her because there was no Norton House in those days and she had to stay in a lot of B&Bs.”

“It was a big thing to ask of families,” Alex said. “For a lot of the guys the last time they went away was when they went to Afghanistan and came home wounded so it was very difficult for their families to watch them go off again to do

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interview

Rory had little time for training, had never rowed before and found the crossing left a lot of time for soul-searching. “We were rowing for 12 hours a day, two hours on, two hours off,” he said. “It was arduous, boring, stressful and sometimes really exciting, but we had 12 hours of sitting there thinking. Regardless of the condition the sea was in you would have your earphones in listening to music, thinking about your life. Luckily there were guys on the boat that truly inspired me.” The R2R crew hit the headlines at home when their desalinator broke leaving them with dwindling supplies of drinking water and threatening the entire trip. It also affected their food supplies which had to be rehydrated with fresh water. “We had all kinds of problems,” said Rory, who recently addressed millions at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. “I don’t think we were supposed to make it across. Everything went wrong. Christmas Day was my worst day because I had to remove pieces of shrapnel from my backside. I had been diving in Egypt and the combination of diving and the weight loss meant that for about two weeks I was in excruciating pain and at times I couldn’t row. On Christmas Day we stopped for a bit so I took some strong painkillers and removed the shrapnel with a scalpel. That was a horrible day.” Despite that he still describes the Row as, “the

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greatest thing I have ever done”. “What I took away from the Row is, don’t waste time,” he said. “Your time is not infinite and it’s scary how quickly life goes. And never run the tap while you’re brushing your teeth!” Alex too describes the trip as “life-changing”. “I’m not sure I’d do it again,” he said. “I think we were at a unique point with the right people and the right cause and I think it would be hard to beat but I’m sure there are other mountains to climb! “Row2Recovery exceeded all my expectations. The amount of support we have had has been amazing and it’s really important to recognise that support and find ways to keep it going because this is the beginning of a long journey for a lot of people. For someone like Neill, who has lost both his legs, to say he’s one of the lucky ones because he still has his independence - that puts it in perspective. “There are some big challenges ahead for military charities but it’s great that people want to support them and in some cases are willing to do extraordinary things to support them.” The crew are close to reaching £1million and hope the launch of their book will help them hit their target. The Row to Recovery: From the Battlefield to Barbados - An Incredible Voyage of Extraordinary Courage by Sam Peters is available now.n

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interview

Stephen’s War

When Stephen Lewis and his wife Pearl lost touch during World War II, Pearl turned to SSAFA. Here we tell the story of Stephen’s war, including a meeting with Spike Milligan.

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tephen Lewis grew up in London’s East End and he and wife Pearl were still living in Hackney when war broke out in 1939.

as important to men wanting to know about the safety and welfare of their families. “I kept getting transferred from one unit to another. There were two million in the British Army so how could they keep track of everybody?” Stephen said. “Pearl’s letters never reached me. She got very worried because she thought I was missing. She went to SSAFA and asked them to find out what had happened to me. SSAFA told her they had found me in Italy and I was due to come home shortly. It turned out Pearl was in Ruislip because our home had been taken over to put bombed out victims in. We had to reclaim it after the war.”

Stephen, then a self-employed insurance broker, said: “When I went to join up they said you’ve already joined, your call up date is tomorrow!” He joined the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and learned to operate 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns before being posted to Hunstanton. “We were very poorly equipped,” he said. “Our anti-tank weapons consisted of bottles of petrol with a rag stuck in the top. We got bombed by Stuka bombers and in one raid my gun fell on me and both my hands were broken.”

While in Italy Stephen found his skills as an entertainer once again in demand with the troops. “When the war was over I happened to meet Spike Milligan, and we were told to organise some entertainment for the Allied Forces. We became great friends and he wrote about that time in Where Have All the Bullets Gone?”

Not long after his recovery Stephen sailed from Liverpool. He said: “My officer put me in charge of entertainments because we were at sea for 13 weeks.” Stephen found eight musicians among the troops and organised a series of concerts where he sang the popular songs of the day. A Sergeant Instructor by this time, Stephen arrived in India and spent a short time there before transferring to Persia. He went on to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, spending just a few weeks in each place instructing on the Czechoslovakian Bren Gun. Stephen was in Egypt in 1943 and joined Montgomery’s Eighth Army for the invasion of Italy. “That was a long war in Italy and it was a rotten war. We quickly demolished the Italian Army but the Germans were really strong north of Naples. It lasted until 1945.” With his constant movement Stephen found it impossible to keep in touch with Pearl. After three years with no word she feared the worst and turned to the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association. The SSAFA Overseas Service was set up to help families who wanted to enquire about men serving abroad but quickly became just news & views winter 12/13

Stephen put together another band and he sang while Spike played the trumpet. Stephen Lewis with his picture in Spike Milligan’s book

“I was in touch with him right until his later years. We used to visit him at Highgate and he used to come to my place at Hackney. Spike lived next door to Peter Sellers so we became friends too. Spike wanted me to become one of the Goons but it was not really my type of humour!” When Stephen got home he was promoted to Company Sergeant Major and posted to Berkhamsted where he assisted British prisoners of war returning from Germany. He left the Army in 1946 and when he and Pearl were reunited they moved to Canada before finally settling in Bournemouth. Stephen, now 95, is a friend of Bexley & Bromley caseworker Jim Wilson. n

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Stronger together

With new choirs springing up around the world, the Military Wives Choirs Foundation is supporting them wherever they are.

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t is not often that more than 600 women from military bases across the UK and beyond descend on London’s Wellington Barracks, but Thursday 13th September was no ordinary day.

After the huge success of last year’s BBC series ‘The Choir: Military Wives’ and the resulting record breaking charity single, ‘Wherever You Are’, members of the original three choirs (Catterick, Chivenor and Plymouth) were joined by women from 21 new choirs which have been set up since the programme aired, to officially launch the Military Wives Choirs Foundation. The Foundation, which is a registered subsidiary charity of SSAFA Forces Help, has been set up with the express aim of bringing women in the military community closer together through singing. Caroline Jopp, one of the founding members of the Catterick Military Wives Choir and Choir Coordinator of the Foundation said: “As military wives and partners, or women serving in the Forces, we are often on the move. It means we can be far from friends and family when we need a helping hand. The Military Wives Choirs Foundation has been set up to bring us closer

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together through singing and to provide a network of support. “Our hope is that the choirs set up across the UK and abroad will be a constant in a life of constant change. So wherever there are women in the military community, we’ll be there.” The Military Wives Choirs network has grown from three choirs at the beginning of 2012 to more than 60 at the last count and they are spread throughout the UK as well as Germany, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. No matter where the choirs are, they will be supported by the Foundation. This includes ongoing practical resources and specialist advice for the day-to-day running of the choirs, connecting choir members with other regional choirs to facilitate easy transition from base to base and bringing choirs together for national projects and events. As well as announcing the formation of the Foundation, the women were also at the barracks to film the video for their new album, ‘Stronger Together’. The women were joined by the Foundation’s first Patron, Gareth Malone, who wrote two tracks for the album, ‘Counting the news & views winter 12/13


military wives breath and did it! The rest, as they say, is history and I haven’t looked back since.” Tania and her family don’t live on the ‘patch’ and she often found that she felt isolated living away from the military community at the base, especially when her husband John deployed. But through the Lympstone Military Wives Choir she has found a network of support she could only have dreamt of previously. “Without a doubt, joining the choir has changed my life. Last year I hardly knew anyone on the base and this year, I have 30 wonderful women who have become like sisters. “Yes, it’s been amazing to travel around the country, but I have to say, the support and friendship that I have found has been the best thing. When John was away in Norway on exercise, everyone rallied around me and in the days before he came home, they really shared my excitement, texting and calling me to see if I was looking forward to his return and offering any help they could. When I showed John the texts he was overwhelmed, but as I said to him, that’s just what us girls do! We’re there for each other.”

Time’ and ‘Stronger Together’. The album, which was released on the 5th November, was recorded over 20 days covering a distance of 4,500 miles, taking in choirs in Germany and Cyprus. Proceeds from the album will go to the Military Wives Choirs Foundation. Chair and Founder of the Military Wives Choirs Foundation, Nicky Clarke said: “Despite all the apparent glitz and glamour, the Military Wives Choirs Foundation is here simply to support women in the military community and bring them closer together through singing. “We are proud to be a subsidiary of SSAFA as, at its heart, the Foundation is about welfare and support for the extended military family, something which SSAFA has been doing wonderfully for more than 125 years. Of course, being given the opportunity to travel far and wide is brilliant, but at the end of the day, we must provide a legacy of community spirit for the women who provide unswerving support to our Armed Forces and we are confident that the Foundation will do this.” This is no more evident, than in the case of Tania Needham, who joined her choir at Lympstone on a chilly night at the end of October 2011. “I remember the evening well as I was so nervous and remember thinking, I’m not sure I can do this. But as soon as I walked into the church hall, I was greeted by smiling faces and I just took a deep

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Tania and the Lympstone Choir

Tania credits their choir mistress, Sam Abrahams, with creating miracles and making the women sound so professional! “She has taught us that our voices are a muscle and we must look after them and practice like any top athlete and that’s what we’ve been doing but it never feels like a chore. I look forward to my Thursday night practice as a bit of ‘me time’ and as soon as I enter that room, I’m instantly uplifted by the girls. “Nicky Clarke and her team should be so proud of what they have achieved through the Foundation. In my eyes they are wonder women and have changed the lives of hundreds of women forever.” n

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For more information about the Foundation visit www.militarywiveschoirs.org

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The Sun Never Sets IN 2013 SSAFA’s Personal Support and Social Work Service will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

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or half a century, the Personal Support and Social Work Service has provided professional, confidential support to the Armed Forces and their families around the world. From the 12 uniformed pioneers who were the first SSAFA social workers there are now over 70, no longer uniformed, professionals deployed around the world. The SSAFA Social Work Service began with a call for help from British Forces overseas commands. In the early 1960s an increase in married quarters meant more families were posted to live alongside their husbands and fathers. The military had a wealth of experience in dealing with the men but commanders were struggling to cope with the needs of young families and wives. Following discussions with the MoD in 1963, schemes were set up with trained SSAFA staff sent to Cyprus and BAOR (British Army of the Rheine) in Germany. By the end of the following year, a dozen qualified social workers had been deployed. During its history the social work service has often been called upon to assist during a crisis. In 2006 the Social Work team in Cyprus helped care for some of the over 4,500 British families who were evacuated from Lebanon. SSAFA social workers based in Belgium were called upon to help in the immediate aftermath of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in Zeebrugge and in 1992 the then, Director of Social Work, Anne Woodruff accompanied bereaved families to the Falkland Islands to mark the 10th anniversary of the conflict. Creative solutions to people’s problems have meant that the SSAFA social work service has pioneered

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many of the initiatives that have gone on to become successes in their own right. The Adoption Service, Forcesline, the Short Break Scheme for children and young people with disabilities and for siblings and young carers, and the Stepping Stone Homes for estranged wives and partners were all initiated as solutions to specific needs identified by Social Workers. The core values of social work have remained the same over the years, the need to care, support and protect, but the legislation and guidance that provides the framework within which social workers work, constantly changes and ensuring social work

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social work

Today SSAFA provides a range of personal support and social work services to military personnel and their families in various locations in the UK and overseas; these are: • The Personal Support & Social Work Service RAF(UK) • T  he British Forces Social Work Service in North West Europe • The Personal Support & Social Work Service in Cyprus • Joint Naval Personal and Family Service, Gibraltar • The Personal Support & Social Work Service Brunei • T  he Personal Support & Social Work Service Falkland Islands

Two of SSAFA’s Social Workers, Debbie Toni (top) and Jane Barnes (right).

• T  he Social Work service provides a range of services including: • S  afeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. • P  ersonal Support for adults • E  arly Support and intervention for children and families • P  artnership working with volunteers • Integrated working with partner agencies such as education and health.

overseas keeps pace with changes back home is an ongoing challenge. “The work of a social worker within the military community is similar to working with civilian families, according to the Professional Head of Social Work, Deborah Toni. “Many issues are the same as those encountered in civilian life but can be amplified by the demands of military life such as frequent deployments. As we draw down from Germany and as the overall size of the military community is reduced and relocated we have to ensure our services remain flexible and effective’. n

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• S  hort Break Scheme for children with Additional Needs and Disabilities • S  hort Breaks for siblings and young carers. • S  upport groups for bereaved families • S  upport groups for the families of injured service personnel • A  doption service • F  ostering service • R  egulation of early years such as childminders.

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Yeovilton Committee have sponsored Inchester Youth FC Club for the 2012/13 season. The club has a lot of service families from RNAS Yeovilton, and were over the moon when the Committee answered an local newspaper advert for sponsors. On Sunday 1st July, at Beverley Armed Forces Day, Branch Chairman Cllr David Elvidge proudly signed the East Riding Community Covenant on behalf of SSAFA Forces Help East Yorkshire.

£878.87 was raised by the Fife Branch at a Jubilee party held on Toll Green in Elie, Fife. Matt Toye and Mark Powell completed the Devises to Westminster (125miles) kayak race, crossing the line 31 hours and 47 mins after they started. They were 93rd of 162 starters and only 112 finishers, raising ��14,800 for SSAFA and Surrey-based charity Disability Challenges.

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volunteer news

The Hohne Brownie Pack, along with the Rainbows, held

a Big Brew in their Brownie unit, raising €115.00. The girls did their Hostess Badge at the same time, serving cakes and coffee to their parents and teachers. The girls chose the theme, made decorations, invitations, menus and set the tables, as well as the tidying up!

Living in Larnaca District, a retired American Colonel, US Air Force pilot and businessman Ed Knouse, known as ‘KTOWN’, cycled round all the UK bases in Cyprus. En route, sponsors were given the chance to shave off a bit of his beard in return for a donation. The first chop occurred at dawn in Troodos and RAF Akrotiri saw George’s Hairdressers dive in for the next cut. In September he also completed the 400 mile Ride of Britain.

This summer 45 eligible British Forces Germany children joined SSAFA for their annual Short Breaks. This year for the first time, there were two, week long breaks; the first at the Bispinger Heide Centre Parks for children with a disability or additional need and the second at the REME Adventures Training Centre in Bavaria for siblings and young carers.

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adoption service

A forever family The SSAFA Forces Help Adoption Service continues to provide children with loving homes.

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s part of National Adoption Week 2012, SSAFA Forces Help’s Adoption Service welcomed military families, key figures from other UK adoption services and the ‘Adoption Tsar’, Martin Neary, to their annual adoption conference. The event this year was held in the illustrious surroundings of the House of Lords. It was very kindly hosted by Lord and Lady Dannatt, who, over the years have been tireless in their support to the adoption service. The SSAFA Forces Help Adoption Service was founded in the 1960s with the purpose of assessing childless, serving British military couples as adopters

of babies who had been voluntarily given up by their birth parents within the military, and supporting civilian community in overseas locations. Since then the service has grown and is now a successful voluntary adoption agency, which last year placed 25 children with permanent families.

Lt Cdr Sam Dunbar and her husband adopted their son with the help of SSAFA.

Lesley-Anne Doughty, Adoption Manager at SSAFA says: “As a charity, we realised many years ago that the adoption system was, in the main, failing to consider the special circumstances of military families and the realities of Service life. Even the ethics of a military career were often misunderstood thus severely affecting children who desperately needed a ‘forever family’. “Thankfully, such attitudes towards military personnel are changing, which is in no small part due to the dedication and commitment of the staff and social workers who make up our adoption service. Through their tireless effort we are helping to ensure that no matter religion, ethnicity, marital status, disability or sexual orientation, military personnel are afforded the same opportunity to be assessed as adoptive parents in the civilian community.” As well as running their own successful adoption agency, the charity also advises local authorities on the intricacies of military life ensuring that members of the Armed Forces are not disadvantaged when trying to adopt. By helping demonstrate that military life is not at odds with good parenting, the charity hopes to show that when it comes to providing a loving and secure home, serving families have much to offer. It was a busy week for the adoption team, who, as well as organising the AGM also became ‘media stars’ as they appeared on ITV’s Daybreak promoting the adoption service and on BFBS who also attended the conference. A big thank you has to be said to one of our many adoptive families, The Sinclairs, who also took part in the media work and welcomed the Day Break and BFBS film crews into their home in the weeks running up to the conference. Watch out for further coverage of the adoption service in Soldier Magazine in the New Year as well. n

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news & views winter 12/13


the final word

On hearing, at the beginning of this year, that Andrew Cumming had decided to retire as Controller of SSAFA Forces Help, my ears immediately pricked up. Because since joining the RAF in 1979, I have been both very interested and intimately involved in the delivery of welfare to the serving and retired military community and their families. Over the years, I have had numerous dealings with SSAFA, from seeking the support of caseworkers to help particular individuals to fundraising. On all those occasions, I have been very impressed with the dedication, quality and enthusiasm of the entire SSAFA team. More recently, my responsibility for the provision of MoD level welfare support to serving personnel and their families around the world, as well as liaison with military charities and veterans’ organisations, has enabled me to better understand the military charity sector and how it works. SSAFA’s enduring appeal to me is its ethos, with volunteers (SSAFA’s secret weapon!) at the core of its identity but complemented by the contracted elements that address the health and social care needs of the wider Armed Forces community – particularly families. This makes SSAFA both unique and very special.

first word from the controller

In addition, SSAFA’s vision, “to continue to be the organisation that our Armed Forces and veterans community and their families know that they can depend upon for support for the rest of their lives” is something which really chimes with me. I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen individuals’ lives hugely improved by the work of SSAFA. Perhaps the biggest attraction about SSAFA is that it is firmly focussed on people, particularly those who need help. Much of what is done for these 50,000 or so individuals each year is done quietly, without fuss, by SSAFA’s trained caseworkers, volunteers and others because they simply want to make a difference. Consequently, I am both honoured and delighted to have been selected to replace Andrew as the new Controller. However, I am very aware that I have a lot to learn about SSAFA, how it works, the intricacies of Central Office and the regions, and the concerns of the people involved. But I am really excited by the thought of taking on the current challenges as well as responding to future welfare needs. As soon as possible, I intend to get out and about to the regions and branches to meet as many of the team as possible, from committee members and caseworkers to fundraisers and from health deliverers to social workers, to find out what your issues are and how you can best be supported in your vital work. So as I sign off this first note, it just leaves me to thank you for what you already do and encourage you to keep it up. At the end of the day, it is what you do on behalf of SSAFA that makes the difference and ensures that those who need our help get it, to make their life that much better. n

Air Vice-Marshal The Honourable David Murray CVO, OBE, RAF Controller, SSAFA Forces Help

news & views winter 12/13

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Could you spare some time? We are looking for volunteers to give a little time to help the servicemen and women who have given so much for our country.

If you think you could help, visit

ssafa.org.uk/volunteer Registered Charity Nos 210760 Est. 1885 and SC038056

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12/10/2012 14:58


News and Views Winter 2012 - SSAFA Forces Help