Reading Force launches partnership with RAF Benevolent Fund at RAF High Wycombe

RF launch 5 HK and RF Elaine Boorman

RAF Benevolent Fund regional fundraiser Heather Kemp and Reading Forces’ Elaine Boorman celebrate the launch with Ben Elephant.

Reading Force, the shared reading charity for all UK military families, is pleased to announce a pilot to roll out its activity in five RAF Benevolent Fund Ben Clubs, with a special launch at RAF High Wycombe Ben Club this week.

The Reading Force charity encourages military families to share books, whether at home together or separated by deployments or training – in which case books can be read over the phone, Skype or FaceTime. Families find reading the same story and chatting about it creates good communication, keeps families close during separations and provides continuity – best of all it’s fun!

Reading Force is keen to reach more RAF families so they know the initiative is available to them and free to take part and the charity is thrilled to be teaming up with the RAF’s leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Ben Clubs scheme.

RF launch 6

Storyteller John Kirk entertains members of the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Ben Club at the launch of their partnership with Reading Force.

Ben Clubs taking part in the pilot are High Wycombe, Cranwell, Marham, Scampton and Digby.

For the High Wycombe launch, storyteller extraordinaire John Kirk will entertained Ben Club children, siblings and parents, with a fun interactive session based on Roald Dahl’s The Twits. Ben Club mascot Ben Elephant also joined the fun. Each Ben Club child will receive a special pack with a Reading Force scrapbook and a book of their choice. Families can share the book and fill their scrapbooks in the coming weeks. All children will be given a certificate and medal on completion of their scrapbooks.

‘Spending time together is vital for all families, none more so than RAF families who face the daily challenges of military life. This Reading Force project is an ideal way to foster those relationships and ensure children stay connected particularly while parents are deployed. The RAF Benevolent Fund has stood side by side with the RAF Family for almost 100 years, and continues to offer support to all members of the community, through projects  like this and our Ben Clubs, part of the Airplay youth support scheme.’ Alison Wyman, Head of Welfare Programmes and Development at the RAF Benevolent Fund.

‘As a spouse, as a Community Development Officer and as a Grandmother I can see the fantastic potential of Reading Force, we promote it in our local schools and we always put a scrapbook in any deployment packs and arrivals information the Hive Information Officer distributes to RAF High Wycombe families.  We also suggest it to families going through separation or divorce to help keep children connected to both parents.’ Danielle Bowman, Community Development Officer, RAF High Wycombe

This Reading Force pilot is generously funded by a grant from the RAF Benevolent Fund.

‘We are really pleased to be working so closely with the RAF Benevolent Fund in helping to support the specific needs of RAF families. Working with existing structures to support the Forces community in the most effective way possible is very much the Reading Force way, and from our collaboration so far on this project this looks extremely promising.’ Associate Professor Alison Baverstock, Founder of Reading Force.

Notes to editors:

  1. Ben Clubs were set up in 2016, for children aged 5-8 from RAF families, as part of the Airplay youth support programme funded by the RAF Benevolent Fund. The clubs enable children to engage in social activities, spend time with others from RAF families and gives them a chance to get used to being in a club before joining Airplay when they are older.
  2. The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity. The Fund exists to support current and former members of the RAF, their partners and dependants, whenever they need help. In 2016 the Fund spent £17.6m supporting more than 65,000 members of the RAF Family. For more information visit:  rafbf.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/RAFBF
  3. For more information contact RAF Benevolent Fund PR Officer Rebekah Sharrock on 020 7307 3305 or sharrock@rafbf.org.uk
  4. Reading Force was founded by Dr Alison Baverstock, academic and Service wife for nearly 30 years, and piloted in Aldershot in 2010. It proved to be a successful way of keeping family members in touch when separated by deployments and quickly grew to become available to all Service families nationally, at home or away.
  5. It is free for all military families to take part in Reading Force and every participating family is given a special scrapbook and a free book to get them started.
  6. For more information please contact Hattie Gordon, 07566200299 or email hattie@readingforce.org.uk
  7. readingforce.org.uk
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