Mel has been the Station Youth Worker for Airplay Leeming for the last 7 years and after 20+ years in the youth work field, Airplay has been one of her longest serving roles. Mel tells us that there is something special about working on RAF Leeming with the Airplay project. And it is not just the incredible team of people that she gets to work with. 

For those that don’t know, Airplay is a project delivered across most RAF stations in the UK for the benefit of the children and young people of serving families. It is a safe place for the children and young people to be just that, children and young people!

Mel tells us that one of the elements that makes the project special to work on is them, the children and young people. They come with all the challenges that those in the general public face but they face additional challenges; growing up on a station can be isolating, even more so when that station is as rural as Leeming. They deal with deployed parents and living in uncertainty but with the knowledge they are not alone. They are resilient beyond their years. 

The youth club gives them the opportunity to be the age they are, their true, authentic selves.  This can present the team some challenges; those neurodiverse young people can be free of all the masks they were elsewhere in the world in the youth club and as a team we need to ensure safe staffing ratios for this to be the case for those neurodiverse and neurotypical young people in the space. The group dynamics can be brought into the youth group – like any other youth group however slightly amplified due to the nature of living on a “behind the wire” station. 

Mel added that one of the special and unique features of Airplay, which is both great and challenging, is that of the challenges of RAF Life. Mel summed it up as “no day is the same”. We could say this about many areas of youth and community work however, this looks slightly different on an RAF station. Mel could have got the group to a fantastic place, and there will be a massive change on station which will see the majority of the families moved to a different station and a new group of families moved in. This sees the young people coming into Airplay processing all the changes they have gone through and trying to integrate into the life on RAF Leeming Station; this sees the youth groups going through more group phases. As Mel said; “It keeps all the work fresh” as we always have to be responding to the different young people, with different needs and wishes. 

There is something special about working on RAF Leeming with Airplay and some days it can be hard to put our finger on it; but what we do know is the staff, young people and community value it.

Mel

Mel

Youth Work with RAF Airplay

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