It sometimes seems that the festive season begins just after Remembrance Sunday and is concerned more with calories and less about goodwill.
The Cyprus-based Community Health Team (CHT) of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity aims each year to put that right with its Festive Wellness programme, a series of “Christmas Cracker” events for young and old, serving and family, on UK Armed Forces bases where it operates from SHAPE, Sennelager, Gibraltar, and Naples to BATUS, BATUK, and Brunei.
Now, this is no Scrooge-like attempt to clampdown on modern-day Saturnalians enjoying themselves, but rather a campaign to make sure revellers make the best of their Yuletide time.
The public health messages shared, however, in the days before Christmas were not just about taking things in moderation, keeping up with exercise, and meeting CHT staff, but had an equally important message of looking after your mental health.
Christmas, for all its fun, can be stressful. Christmas can also, despite the socialising, also be a difficult time for some – especially those away from family overseas for the first time.
Jan Dowlen Gilliland, Director Community Healthcare Services, acknowledged this saying:
“We know that many families and serving personnel are away from their loved ones this Christmas, many in locations far away. We know that this can be incredibly difficult for people, both at home and overseas, and so we wanted to support the military community and share messages based on topics which are relevant to them, and which we know, will help to support positive mental wellbeing as well as sharing ideas to engage with over the festive period.”
Christmas Cracker events in all CHT areas of operation were well attended, and in Cyprus were also supported by Sodexo, which donated ingredients for cake-making sessions as well as prizes.
For more information about the services and support SSAFA’s Community Health Team provides to military families overseas, please visit its webpage here or the SSAFA Community Health Facebook page for information on your local (closed) Facebook group.