Did you know that the Army Welfare Service (AWS) provides confidential support to military families wherever they are located? Julie Mounfield, AFF Regional Manager South, looks at what they can offer…
AWS has three main tasks: community support, personal support and HIVE information services. The community support team works closely with families seeking to minimise the disruption of military life by providing services and specialist activities.
Community Development Workers (CDWs) working for AWS carry out outstanding work and are pivotal to our local communities.
In North Hampshire, Sarah Magee is the CDW based at Sandhurst. She’s involved in a number of initiatives including youth clubs, family events and support groups.
“The youth building has proved a great way of creating a sense of ownership for young military dependants,” she said. “It’s a safe space that is managed and maintained by the young people.”
There’s great work going on in Blandford in Dorset, too, where Mandy Ford is the CDW. For adults, a job club brings in recruitment agencies and local education providers to help spouses write CVs, prepare for interview and apply for jobs.
Mandy also ensures that volunteers helping with community activities can gain qualifications through recognised schemes.
It’s a similar story in Worthy Down, near Winchester, where CDW Cathy Sherlock is instrumental to the welfare support.
This summer, AWS took 50 young people to the New Forest for a week of team building, sports and outdoor activities.
Both CDWs in the Kent area do a brilliant job with the Gurkha community, offering access to educational courses and running coffee mornings covering everything from cooking demonstrations to jewellery making.
Make the most of it
If you’re lucky enough to have this type of provision in your area, use it. There are some amazing things going on around the country, but unfortunately it’s not the case everywhere due to funding.
Check out your HIVE or community centre to find out what’s going on near you. If AWS provision is not available in your area, contact your local AFF Co-ordinator or your Unit Welfare Officer to see what can be done.