Additional needs support in focus at AFF study day

“A fantastic conference with good information and a place to come together and support each other.”

Huge thanks to all who made AFF’s first additional needs study day a resounding success last week! We were delighted to have more than 60 attendees representing chain of command, service providers including DIO and Amey, local authorities and military charities – all there to discuss ways to improve the support available to families with additional needs. We were also pleased to welcome Garrison Commander Lt Col Paddy Baines, who popped in during the day to speak with guests and show his support for the event.

Raising awareness

Army policy was an emerging issue, with more awareness and training needed for welfare officers to improve current provision.

One attendee told us the study day was an “excellent event with a really good mix of military and external agencies”. They added that there was a “good sharing of knowledge and experiences and excellent info for welfare officers to share with families”.

Identifying gaps in provision and support

Hosting the event, AFF’s Health & Additional needs Specialist Karen Ross said: “Because this study day was the first of its kind, it was difficult to gauge interest and know exactly what information practitioners and policy makers required. The additional needs support groups we’ve set up in Catterick, Colchester, Didcot and Northern Ireland, helped to inform me about the issues that families are experiencing and where there may be gaps in provision and support. This informed the content of the day and our choice of speakers. I was bowled over by the interest and great attendance at the event and also by the incredible feedback I have received since.”

Next steps

This useful study day will now pave the way for AFF’s next steps in supporting these families – including making this an annual event.

The feedback and ideas we received are invaluable in making recommendations around how support can be improved, such as asking attendees which the most informative presentations were and whether the organisations present provided a useful opportunity to network. We hope this will also lead to more collaborative working, including feeding into the proposed Defence families’ strategy/ Armed Forces Covenant priority for next year around additional needs and disability.

Find out more

Watch this space for more updates on our progress. In the meantime, if your family has additional needs, check our dedicated web pages and find out if there’s an AFF additional needs support group near you. Or for more specific information and advice please contact Karen Ross on



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