In Scotland, the Army Welfare Service (AWS) has staff based across the country in Kinloss, Inverness, Leuchars, Edinburgh and Glencorse and if you’re lucky enough to be posted to this part of the world you’ll have access to first class personal and community support from a dedicated team. Army&You caught up with Gina Clark, community development worker for AWS based at Glencorse, to find out how she reaches families…
Glencorse is the headquarters of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), and there are also military families from other services and units living in the vicinity.
“In all, there are around 170 families as well as approximately 330 single soldiers in Glencorse,” says Gina. “My role is to support all of them and meet their varying needs. By working with partners, I provide adult education groups, Youth Voice, youth clubs, playwork and parents’ and tots’ groups.”
AWS also offers holiday programmes, which include trips to local attractions as well as events for Halloween, Easter and Christmas that are organised in partnership with local unit welfare teams.
“I feel extremely lucky to be able work with and support some amazing volunteers who somehow make the impossible, possible,” says Gina.
COVID-19 has meant significant changes for families and Gina and the teams have had to work differently.
“We’ve not been able to deliver services face-to-face in our centres but we teamed up with the RIFLES and built the Virtual Military Families Garrison on Facebook so that online youth clubs, Youth Voice Scotland events and virtual coffee mornings can be provided,” explains Gina.
“We’re very grateful for the support of the RIFLES and other units in making this happen.”
The online provision proved popular with families as family member, Chloe, explains: “Having online youth clubs during lockdown was great as it broke up the day and meant the kids weren’t missing out on too much social interaction whilst being in the house.”
There was also an extensive online programme over the summer with a wide range of online sessions including a ghost tour of Edinburgh, fitness and dance classes, family quizzes and bingo.
“Although it isn’t the usual way we would work, it is great to engage with children and families from a range of locations who in normal times wouldn’t have had access to our provision,” explains Gina. “The most challenging part of my role is trying to keep in touch with our families without physically being in the centre. Thankfully, local funding meant I could deliver 80 activity packs as part of a wider initiative in different AWS locations.
“The families we work with have done an amazing job coping and supporting each other during this unprecedented time. AWS is continuing to support the families online in Glencorse and across Scotland, while we also hope that we can safely return to some face-to-face work soon,” concludes Gina.
To find out what’s on in your community, take a look at your local HIVE for details.