Rebecca Wakefield (pictured above), head of community support for the Army Welfare Service, tells us about her role…
How do you work with Service families?
My role is to lead the play, youth work and community development for the British Army. I also have an MOD-wide responsibility for play and youth work strategy in support of children and young people. If you’ve attended parent and toddler or parenting support groups, have become involved in projects like community gardens, family events or art projects, you’ll probably have met members of the AWS team. We tend to be most recognisable as the people that organise activities, run youth clubs or drop-ins and residentials.
What are you doing to ensure Service children have a voice?
Their voice is central to quality play and youth work as well as ensuring decision makers hear about the lived experience for children and young people in our community. It’s my responsibility to seek out that voice. The whole community support team works with and listens to children and young people in the UK and overseas. I ensure their voice is represented with decision makers, whether in person themselves or through my reports.
Can you tell us more about projects you are working on?
We have so many exciting projects ongoing:
- We work with around 100 young people who elect four representatives as members of the UK Youth Parliament from British Forces overseas. They contribute to the voice of more than one million voting young people on issues affecting them and attend the Youth Parliament every November.
- We are launching an online youth forum and creating a virtual youth voice network. Teams in Germany, Tidworth and Cyprus are running events for children and young people moving to the UK or Cyprus this year and we’re planning residentials for them.
- We are taking MOD-led youth work into schools, listening to and working with children and young people.
- We have a new professional youth and community work post hopping about the globe working with children, young people and families overseas.
How are you working with AFF?
I’m often at the same meetings as AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade and other members of the AFF team; we regularly swap knowledge and explore issues affecting families. I’m delighted to be collaborating with Jilly and Phil on the pupil voice research.
What do you hope to achieve?
I hope many unique voices from children and young people can be captured. They are their own experts on what matters to them, the opportunity to listen will not only support the aims of the research but will also help me plan initiatives and services that support them.
How can families get involved?
You will have the opportunity to share your opinions and experiences as well your children. Please take part in the consultation and encourage your children to join in!