A word from AFF Chief Exec, Sara Baade…

When I first came to the UK about 20 years ago, I thought it was the kindest country in the world because everyone kept asking me how I was. Little did I understand at the time that it was just part of the British culture to politely ask after someone as a greeting – and people didn’t actually expect you to tell them how you really were!

However, the concept of asking after one another’s wellbeing has taken on a completely new meaning in the last few months. With COVID-19, society has changed, and we genuinely want to know how our friends and families are coping.

The same goes for the work that AFF has done over the last few months. The enquiries and concerns that are coming into AFF have changed dramatically and the vast majority are linked to the pandemic and families’ wellbeing. Many of you are trying to work out how new COVID-19 rules and regulations will affect you and your next posting, allowances and/or schools.

Over the last few months, we have worked on trying to untangle the impact the assignment freezes have had on families by pushing for answers and information on issues such as schooling, adaptations and housing. We’ve also worked with the team responsible for ‘unfreezing’ postings to ensure the same elements are considered as and when we try to resume normality again.

Another area that many of you have contacted us about relates to those of you who are key workers, and consequently who takes priority, and what childcare support can a soldier provide when you, as a key worker, need to do your job.

We have also asked for more information on operations and training and worked closely with command in the repatriation of families from Kenya and Nepal.

We’ve been working hand-in-hand with the army to ensure that as much information as possible has gone out to you relating to all these changes. We’ve set up our own COVID-19 webpage, which is updated regularly, so if you’ve not had a look yet do check it out – www.aff.org.uk

It has been a busy few months for us, but it has also been interesting to see how all the different elements within the army have pulled together and supported each other in this unique situation. You may not always have felt it, but the amount of consideration and care taken to ensure families are on the agenda has been truly impressive. I hope that as we start to go back to ‘normal jogging’ that momentum and those partnerships will remain.

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