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07 Sep 21. AAGDS join proud list of RAF Sport partners to reignite post-Covid activity. The RAF Sport team is proud to announce Atlantic Aviation Group Defence Services (AAGDS) as its latest partner to further reignite sporting activity across the Royal Air Force (RAF) following its pandemic suspension. The aerospace and defence company, based at RAF Brize Norton, is supporting a range of sports including rugby union, golf, cricket and motorsports. It will also focus support for smaller sports to drive participation and inclusion. The partnerships of organisations such as AAGDS play a fundamental part in underpinning the 80+ sporting disciplines in the Service, contributing to the abilities and health and wellbeing of Service Personnel.
All sport in the RAF was ceased in Spring 2020 as the pandemic hit. Only now, 16 months later, is activity beginning to recover properly. Sport and physical activity is a fundamental aspect of RAF life so its suspension left a significant hole. Despite this, personnel have continued to keep active, managed the uncertainty and generally maintained their wellbeing as best as possible in the circumstances.
Sport plays a crucial part in ensuring the positive mental and physical wellbeing of Service personnel – whether it’s a solo jog on a wet Tuesday night or competitive Inter-Service sport. Sport in the RAF is also proven to improve personnel’s decision-making skills, endurance and team management. It is partnerships like AAGDS that ensure sport continues to make that impact, from stations to international and Olympic levels.
Air Commodore Rich Fogden, Director of RAF Sport said: “Thousands of Service personnel play sport in the RAF so having to suspend it was a big loss. The last 16 months have been hugely challenging in a myriad ways, many of which have highlighted the importance of sport and physical activity to individuals and organisations. The RAF is no different to any other in this regard”.
“We are delighted to welcome AAGDS as a new sponsor and partner of all RAF Service personnel and their families. All of us in RAF Sport look forward to working closely with them as we drive towards the RAF Sport vision of providing recognised, resourced and rewarding sport for all. There is no doubt that timing with the resumption of sport in the RAF could not be better.”
Steve Cloran, President of AAGGDS said: “As proud partners to the RAF Sport Team, we look forward to playing our part by supporting the services vast sporting activities, its personnel, their families and the wider community.
“As a company, we have a strategic focus on our people, from career development to the health and wellbeing of our staff. Understanding and supporting the RAF in delivering their vision for sport to its talented teams and community is closely aligned to our core values of a company, making this a natural and fulfilling partnership for AAG Defence Services.
“Our facility at Brize Norton has a long standing and proud history of maintaining A400M aircraft. We look forward to further strengthen this relationship by supporting the great work of RAF Sports.”
Sport in the RAF is moving towards pre-pandemic levels from grassroots participation, station level activity and the 51 sports associations. In total, over 80 sports are played, funded in the main by charitable contributions and sponsorship. The RAF also have 13 elite-level personnel including Team GB men’s hockey Olympian Liam Sanford and Paralympian tri-athlete guide Luke Pollard representing the Service in Tokyo.
Rich Fogden continued: “Increasing resources to further grow RAF Sport will only help inspire others to achieve the same heights as some of our athletes such as Liam and Luke. As is the case with both, it all starts with ensuring access for the many and not the few – AAGDS’s partnership will help many to take that step.”
06 Sep 21. Armed Forces charities to receive £5m boost. Armed Forces charities will receive an additional £5m in funding to support those who have served. The Prime Minister has announced today that Armed Forces charities will receive £5m in additional funding to support those who have served, including those who may be struggling following recent events in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister made the announcement at a statement today in the House of Commons on the situation in Afghanistan.
The additional funding will be allocated to a range of projects that will increase capacity in mental health charities, improve veterans’ understanding of the support available and deliver enhanced social support. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will allocate the funding over the coming months.
Funding will also enable veterans to continue helping the people of Afghanistan who have settled in the UK under the ARAP scheme, by providing social support, integration into local communities and help navigating life in the UK.
The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will commission charity provision of targeted and relevant support for Afghan refugees with military links and provide surge capacity to support transition to life in the UK.
The £5m boost will also help increase the user friendliness and accessibility of services, better signposting veterans to the range of state and charitable services available to them. This will help to make mental health services even more accessible to the Afghanistan veteran cohort.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “In addition to the extra £3m we have invested in mental health support through NHS England’s Op Courage, we are providing another £5m to assist the military charities who do such magnificent work, with the aim of ensuring that no veteran’s request for help will go unanswered.”
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said, “This targeted increase in funding to charities, both large and small, will allow those who served to receive a gold standard of care across the board. We are forever grateful to the serving personnel and veterans who aided the people of Afghanistan, and will ensure they get the support they need and deserve in the most accessible methods possible.”
This follows a Mental Health Summit two weeks ago, where the Secretary of State for Defence, Minister for Defence People and Veterans and Secretary of State for Health discussed the current mental health and wellbeing provision for service leavers across the UK with NHS, charity and academic experts.
If you are struggling as a result of the recent events in Afghanistan, there is support available across the United Kingdom for veterans and those affected:
- in England, veterans and their families in England can get specialist help from the NHS Op COURAGE service
- in Wales, you can reach out to Veteran Therapists in each Local Health Board through Veteran Wales
- in Scotland, veterans can access veteran-led mental health and welfare support through Veterans First Point, part of NHS Scotland
- in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office links individual veterans, veterans’ groups, statutory and non-statutory bodies, and charities supporting veterans
- anyone in the UK or overseas can also contact the Veterans’ Gateway helpline on 0808 802 1212, or visit the website for advice and signposting to further support, including for families and the bereaved
06 Sep 21. ‘We Need To Get Our Arm Around’ Afghanistan Veterans, Armed Forces Minister Says.
James Heappey told Forces News that now is “the right time to be focusing” on the mental health of Afghanistan veterans.
The Armed Forces Minister has told Forces News now is the time to support veterans who served in Afghanistan.
James Heappey said there have been “far too many suicides from brave young men and women who served in our Armed Forces, particularly in Afghanistan, over the last decade”.
He added veterans “will be feeling particularly vulnerable as a consequence of what has happened in Afghanistan over the last couple of weeks”.
It comes after Western forces completed the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the final British troops leaving the country on 28 August.
Mr Heappey added: “As a Government, as a set of military charities, as regimental associations and as the wider community beyond, we need to get our arm around our Afghan veterans and keep their chin up at a time when it’s all too easy, potentially, for them to let their shoulders drop and start to question whether it was all worth it.”
Number Seeking Help From Combat Stress Doubles Amid Afghanistan Crisis
31st August 2021
Mr Heappey also said he wants to encourage support for the wider veteran community who served in Afghanistan, as well as personnel who helped evacuate UK nationals and Afghan former staff from the country.
“I want the country to feel a sense of ownership of our Afghan veterans and to want to seek them out and say how proud we are of what they did,” he said.
“Our regimental associations I know are all hard at work reaching out to those who served in Afghanistan and reminding them of the support that’s available.”
Mr Heappey’s comments come after Combat Stress, a charity providing mental health services to veterans, said it had received double the average number of daily calls after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
On 16 August, staff received 70 calls, a 125% increase on the usual number; a further 50 calls on 17 August – a 61% increase; and a 103% increase – 63 calls – on 18 August.
The charity’s staff blamed the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan for the increase.
Last month, the UK’s most severely injured British soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan said it was for “absolutely nothing”.
Ben Parkinson, a Lance Bombardier, lost his legs and suffered a broken spine and pelvis after his vehicle hit a landmine in Afghanistan in 2006.
Speaking to BBC Yorkshire, Mr Parkinson told of his disappointment about the country’s situation, saying that the Taliban takeover has left people thinking: “What was it all for?”.
“It must be terrible for someone who lost a member of their family for absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
“We’ve just turned our backs on them.”
However, another Afghanistan veteran recently told Forces News he is “very happy with the sacrifices” made by military personnel in the country. (Source: forces.net)
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, the currently serving (both regulars and reserves), veterans from the Second World War and those who have served in more recent conflicts, as well as their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.