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Community Development Officer (RAF Valley, Isle of Anglesey) – Service children activities and youth provision

Community Development Officer (RAF Valley, Isle of Anglesey) – Service children activities and youth provision

RAF Valley on Anglesey is home to No 4 Flying Training School, responsible for training the UK's next generation of world-class fighter pilots. Aircrew are also trained at RAF Valley for mountain and maritime operations throughout the world. RAF Valley is the home to the Mountain Rescue Service, the military's only high readiness, all weather search and rescue, aircraft post-crash management asset. 1,500 Service personnel, civil servants and contractors work at RAF Valley.

RAF Valley is classified as isolated unit status and families will stay between two to four years on a posting. Some families make the decision to settle in the area following retirement from the Armed Forces. RAF Valley is located near to the Snowdonia National Park, an area of outstanding beauty.

As the majority of schools in the Isle of Anglesey are Welsh-medium, the Ministry of Defence has made Day School Allowance available to families posted to RAF Valley. It enables Service children to have access to an education in English. Teaching in English is often only available at independent day schools and therefore this allowance is a contribution towards the fees. Currently this is for all children of statutory school age.

Number of Service children living on the RAF Valley station aged between 0-17: 188

Case study completed by: Dean Clarke, Community Development Officer and Armed Forces Champion


What does living at RAF Valley mean to Service children?

  • The day school allowance and attendance at private schools locally means that more time is spent on buses, transporting children to and from the station
  • Attendance at private school means children don’t access wrap around care at the school due to the transport leaving after school to get them back to the station
  • There may be gaps in their education or sometimes they have to repeat educational activities and learning.

Who benefits from the youth support and activities provided at RAF Valley?

  • 68% of the children at the station are under the age of five
  • There are fewer youth age children (13-16 year old’s) so we have had to amalgamate the juniors and seniors to make youth activities viable for the station
  • 25% of Service children engage in youth activities at RAF Valley
  • 15% of Service children also engage in local youth and sporting activities

What youth provision and activities are available at RAF Valley to support Service children?

  1. Identifying the needs of Service children
  2. The role of the Community Development Officer
  3. Impact of youth provision
  4. Use of external funding
  5. Links with external organisations.

1.    How do youth provision services identify the needs of Service children?

  • A community needs analysis is undertaken annually by the Community Development Officer alongside the station, which is used to update the community profile needs analysis and develop an action plan
  • The youth provision establishes funding priorities in consultation with key stakeholders across the station
  • Surveys are undertaken across the community and linked organisations and the feedback is taken into account
  • The action plan developed is monitored and evaluated by the Community Development Officer and Station Commander, to ensure it has an impact on the needs identified.

2.    What is the role of the Community Development Officer?

  • To assess the needs of the youth provision service and Armed Forces community
  • To oversee 0-18 provision, including education, youth provision, parent and toddlers, uniform groups, nursery provision and holiday provision 
  • To support the transport system to and from private schools
  • Chair of the Children’s and Young People's Board meeting (CYPB)
  • Giving advice to the station on youth, community, play and early years policies
  • To act as the station Armed Forces Covenant Champion, ensuring children have a voice
  • To develop funding grant applications and obtain funds to meet the needs of the Service community at the station.

3.    What impact has the Community Development Officer and youth provision had at RAF Valley?

  • Due to the station being an isolated post, there is a strategy in place to reduce this and this has improved over the last few years
  • Improving the local community and Service children integration with activities across the base; including options for non-Service children to join the activities events and use equipment
  • A complete refurbishment of the community and youth buildings using £600,000 of funding has been organised
  • Increase to the amount of youth sessions available every week, providing more opportunities and activities
  • Supported the expansion and development of the holiday provision available, including a wider variety of sports, off site trips, youth club workshops, graffiti artist, African drumming, street dance, yoga and tennis
  • Links have been established with local Armed Forces charities, such as the Royal British Legion, who have organised Poppy breaks and residentials for families
  • A wide range of family events are available at the station, including seasonal activities (Halloween/Christmas/summer), shopping trips to larger shopping areas, family stay and play sport sessions and family fund days
  • A wide range of community activities are available, including baby and child first aid, pediatric first aid, mindfulness, nurturing, parenting courses, sensory play workshops and regular coffee mornings
  • A wide range of social recreation facilities are used by youth groups on a regular basis, including ten pin bowling, cinema, gymnasium and sporting facilities
  • Support for mental health and wellbeing, including all staff having safeguarding training to support identification of any issues, trained and qualified youth workers, training for staff on how to support Service children
  • A wider range of diverse activities are available, including cooking, arts development, group discussions, internet safety, friendship workshops
  • An information board is provided, with information and leaflets linked to different needs
  • Youth members about consulted on issues/challenges they are facing, and plans are put in place to overcome them.

4.    How does RAF Valley use external funding to support development of the youth provision?

  • Airplay Support programme is the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund’s (RAFBF’s) twelve-year, £24 million support programme for children and young people whose parents are serving in the Royal Air Force. As the RAF’s leading welfare charity, the RAFBF initiated the Airplay programme in response to research which found that keeping young people safely occupied on stations was RAF families’ second biggest concern after housing. Airplay Youth Support seeks to raise the quality of provision across all RAF stations so that children, young people, and their parents/carers can rest assured that wherever in the UK they may be based, Airplay will be there to provide a warm welcome and a supportive environment. At RAF Valley, the Airplay project is overseen by the Community Development Officer who coordinates a number of activities for children and young people, holiday provision, family sessions and parent support projects.
  • In the past four years over several million pounds in internal and external funding has been granted to develop various youth community early years support on station at RAF valley.

5. What organisations does the RAF Valley youth service work with to provide activities and support?

  • Sports development department at Isle of Anglesey Council
  • Tennis Wales
  • Hockey Wales
  • Royal British Legion
  • All local schools in the area
  • RAF Benevolent Fund, who fund the Airplay programme
  • Central fund, who fund sporting activities
  • Action for children
  • RAF Valley station, who facilitate visits to the fire section and fast jet flying.

Date produced: Dec 2019

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Service children’s quotes

"As soon as we get used to a house, you get moved - I’ve been to four schools and moved six times."


"I lived in Nepal, then we went to Brunei, then Malaysia."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"I’m used to moving now and mixing with the children... I’ve done it so many times, it’s just a normal thing now."


"It's ok talking over skype and that, but sometimes you just want a hug when Dad is away."


"I’ve enjoyed going around to lots of places around the world, it's adventurous and exciting."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"My mum got a chalk board and it says how many sleeps on it with chalk, every minute it’s getting closer for him coming home."


"I don’t want him to get promoted... I want him to get promoted but I don’t want to leave."


"I might be going to boarding school so that I don’t change schools every few years."


"I've been to seven different schools; I’ve not stayed put in one school long enough."


"He has been away for six months and he is back for two weeks, then he goes away again."


"My parents were in the Army. My mum is a like a nurse and my dad went to the war in Afghanistan. I actually didn’t really know what he was doing so I was like, ‘Cool Dad, go there,’ but then I found out and thought, 'Thank God he came back alive.'"


"He signed off last week, so he will be done by the end of this year. He’s done 24 years. I find that better because he will be around a lot. He likes watching us playing rugby, so he will get to see us more."


"I’m going to a new place entirely. They don’t know anything about me and that’s a big restart and that’s really good for me."


"I moved to Wales because my dad was posted in the Army. I thought I would get bullied and I was shy when you meet new people, but I made some friends."