SSAFA In-Service Committee
Welcome to the first of what we hope will be regular articles in Marham Matters from the team here as your SSAFA In-Service Committee (formerly called SSAFA Forces Help & Soldiers Sailors Airmens Families Association!)
We hope to be able to keep you informed of some of our future events and plans for fundraising alongside letting you know what SSAFA can do to support everyone here at RAF Marham.
I began my time as Chair of our committee officially in December and upon discussing this new responsibility with my family and friends I was rather taken aback by how few people were truly aware of SSAFA as one of the UK’s major armed forces charities.
SSAFA has been keeping quite a low profile compared to some much newer forces charities, but as the first military charity, it has a long and proud history of support for all our armed forces and their families, having been established as SSFA in 1885 to look after families of the soldiers and sailors sent abroad to Egypt. During WWI the charity was asked by the Government to help look after the families of the soldiers sent to fight in the war, recruiting 50,000 volunteers and raising £5 million for the national relief fund. SSFA then gained another ‘A’ in 1921 shortly after the formation of the RAF and continued to provide support to all forces’ families through WWII and all conflicts since. The nature of the support offered has evolved with the charity now offering more social care services and family support including some things that I am sure you will have heard of such as providing temporary homes for the families of personnel staying at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court and supporting the Military Wives Choir which is a subsidiary charity of SSAFA.
So what do we do here at RAF Marham? We have a team of SSAFA personnel & family support workers who are able to offer a full-time professional, confidential support service in a wide range of areas including individual, couple and family work. Our support workers can also put families in touch with a network of civilian agencies and guide them to more specialist SSAFA services such as adoption, mentoring for service leavers, holidays for children with additional needs and support groups for the wounded and bereaved (and many more!).
As a committee, we exist primarily to support our amazing team of Community Volunteers who recently triumphed at the inaugural Marham Awards Evening, winning the Service to the Community Award. This dedicated team offers essential low-level practical support and befriending that we all may need from time to time, especially when the going gets tough, such as when partners are out of area. The team is made up of volunteers who live and work within the Marham community and understand the pressures that forces life can sometimes involve. All services offered by SSAFA are on a confidential basis and no one need feel embarrassed or worried about asking for help.
We fundraise to enable us to offer small scale financial support to families and individuals who need money in an emergency and also to meet any expenses incurred by our volunteer team such as petrol costs if they have been helping by providing transport services to those who may need it.
Having regrouped as a committee after the Station had such a busy year last year, we have very many exciting events and activities planned! Watch out first of all for a gate collection during the week of 11-15th May, BIG SSAFA COLLECTION WEEK, which will be taking place nationwide. Please make sure you have the car and your pockets stocked up with some change that you are able to donate!
We will also be looking to host at least two BIG BREW UP events at the end of June, one on camp and one outside the wire in conjunction with CAMO DAY on Friday 26th June where we hope local schools will join in with another national fundraiser for SSAFA by allowing students to “dress up, blend in!” for the day!
We will most certainly have a significant presence at the Station Families and Friends Day on the 23rd of July and we are also planning to hold a BIG SSAFA RAFFLE later in the year with some fabulous prizes that have already started to roll in.
I do hope that this article has helped to give you more of an insight into what SSAFA does and how we work at RAF Marham. Few people are aware of the services that are offered to them and it is important to remember that SSAFA works to support everyone here; our regulars, reserves, contractors, civil servants and their families.
If you would like to find out more please visit www.ssafa.org.uk or you would like to get in touch you can email me at isc_marham@SSAFA.org.uk.
If you would like to know more about our Community Volunteer Team or find out how you can help, you can call us on 07984 908622.
If you would like to get in touch with our professional counselling team you can get in touch in confidence:
Tel: 01760 446051
Tel: 01760 337261 Ext: 6378
Tel: 01760 337261 Ext: 6578
SSAFA also offers an out of hours service which can be contacted on 0207 463 9358.
These contacts cover all that SSAFA offers, the charity’s statement on what we do being:
SSAFA provides practical, emotional and financial support to anyone who is serving or has ever served in the British Armed Forces, and their families
If you need us, we are here to help you. But in any case, we would be extremely grateful if you could support us in all that we do to enable us to reach those who need us most.