What are other squadrons doing to support cadets who are from low income families?

We are looking to put in place a policy around supporting cadets and their families that are on low income/receipt of free school meals.

More around costs incurred for camp/activity fees, than mess costs which we believe are covered based upon camp duration.

Is this something that is down to CivCom to discuss and decide, we have been fortunate to not experience any requests previously but lately we have.

Many thanks in advance for your support/comments.

This is what the Civ Com is for so I wouldn’t say that the Squadron itself needs a policy. Just a working knowledge of how the Civ Com wants it to work.

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Given it’s the CWCs money, it would be their policy! But certainly nothing wrong with a ‘joint policy’ as such.

Generally we don’t look specifically for those in receipt of free school meals, it’s normally more of a reminder than any cadet or parent can approach the CWC and ask for assistance, and then give their contact details.

For example, if we were going to put out a warning order for a camp or something that cost £80, I’d always stress to the cadets that if the only thing stopping them going is funds then they can speak to me or another staff member about it and we’ll work something out with the CWC, judgement free.

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Yeah, the FSM thing is a very poor arbitor of who needs help.

Sqn’s need, imv, to do three things:

  1. The line at the bottom of every letter about a potential activity/trip saying ‘if the only thing stopping you joining this is the cost, talk to us…’

  2. Audit the costs of your trips/activities. What does it cost upfront - and what does it cost to have all the gear, transport, and parents having the time away from work to do ferrying about that enables the cadet to go, and then stump up the headline cost?

  3. Go through the Sqn records. Who is not going on the expensive stuff? Who is not going on anything? Do a proper data analysis with a spreadsheet. Talk to those kids proactively.

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Deep down we massively undercharge for most activities compared to other organisations, look at what we charges for a Bronze DofE and then how much a school or local authority charge as a simple example.

We do this:

  1. at every intake we meet the parents and explain we have a civcom. They are able to fund equipment or course fees.
  2. we have on our unit downloads a form we ask people to complete stating what they need support with, how much it costs, and to list what fundraising events they’ve supported us at.
  3. they email that to the OC, who speaks to the welfare sub committee and gives their opinion. Welfare committee agree or disagree, OC feeds back to cadet/parent. Sub committee report to main committee with amount agreed.
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And a confidential referral system restricted to just four people, Chair, the CO, Secretary and Treasurer (assumption that any of the aforesaid are not related in any way). Any actions taken must be anonymised in accounts and meetings.

We find pride is definetly a big thing and some don’t want to ask for financial help but could really do it.

For core activities or where we would like to see all the Sqn on them, we have payment plans which they offer what they can over however long. We often have uptakes on those (and quite honestly for the ones we know home circumstances are particularly low income we don’t chase to finish the payment!)

Transport is where we see the biggest impact from low income families, so we offer a forum to help with lift shares and where we can offer some lifts (limited with no SOV)

And personal invites, when you start realising who isn’t going on events and it’s likely due to money writing to them / their parents going we’ve identified this course would be a fantastic opportunity for them and would help them achieve one of the goals they’ve set. Then put our standard paragraph at the moment about if funds are a challenge don’t let it stop you come talk to us there are different options available.

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When I was the OC at a low income area in the NW (very low income) our Civ Com were brilliant. Also have a look at speaking to your parent unit or the likes of Halton and ask if they have any gash kit going. Don’t buy boots or shoes from online shops. RAF supply section is probably cheaper.

It’s also worth going to the supply section if you go on annual camp and ask them if they have any gash kit. I used to do this every year when I was Camp Com and when the cadets arrived (or before they needed it) I’d sort the cadets out that didn’t have anything or very little. Then move on to those that had old or worn out kit.

If there is a local RAFAuX unit near you, have a chat with them as well. It’s surprising how much kit they send back after phase 1 training when recruits get chopped or throw the towel in.

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:pray: many, many thanks for those that have responded to my question, I am a new chair on CivCom and realise we are not the first to tread the path and need to address this, so thank you for your input

We were lucky to have a generous donation by a parent of a timing out cadet. This £1000 was ringfenced as the hardship fund. The Civ Com have a hard line on subs but everything else can be part or fully funded based on need.

One thing we do that has really helped. In anything that has a payment link for events we put another anonymous link called “Help Cadets” which allows families to anonymously donate to the hardship fund. A lot of parents want to help the Squadron and don’t know how so this gives an easy way. We have parents who can afford to pay for £80 camp places and are regular donators so our hardship fund gets a good boost. The good thing about the hardship fund is that is all anonymous and cadets that need the help get it.

Our Civilian Committee are committed to making the same opportunities available to all cadets regardless of their personal circumstances.

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How is this policy being means tested? What authority does a Sqn Commander have to enquire into a Cadet’s eligibility for free school meals and family income? …and the usual deal breaker: who’s paying for it?

I presume this policy can only be introduced and implemented on the basis that the cadet has to be given the chance to voluntarily inform the Sqn staff of their family’s inability to pay for the activity: we don’t have the legal right to ask them about their income and outgoings.

In which case, what will stop those families who can afford to pay for their child’s cadet activities from claiming they can’t afford it? That’s unlikely to happen, but such a charitable policy has to have safeguards to avoid being ripped off in that manner. :thinking:

You’ve clearly never looked at a TG21 form… It literally asks if a cadet is eligible for FSM, and if so, what their NIN is.

But that is irrelevant here. What we’re talking about is a charity (the CWC) paying for things that the trustees want to pay for. For example, paying for a cadet to go on annual camp. It’s really up to them how they decide to judge that. They could pay for all cadets if they had the funding. Or they can put out a letter letting parents know that if they are struggling, they can ask for help.

No, we’re not going to be asking about income etc. There will be no ‘means testing’. It’ll be based on honesty, which is fine. “Little Jimmy wants to go to RAF Boulmer camp but we can’t afford it, what can we do?”. As a CWC, they aren’t going to question the lack of affordability, they should just help… (Up to a point)

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Thanks for the clarification, Joe. You’re right, TG21s are something I don’t involve myself with.

It’s a shame we haven’t yet fixed the economics of the UK in the 21st Century, so that Free School Meals have gone the way of rickets and nits in children’s hair (cue someone telling me their local school authority still has Nit Nurses and Free Milk). And so we have the usual British charitable fudge to paper over the cracks instead of fixing a socio-economic problem. :roll_eyes:

But at least the UK’s persistent and unresolvable inequality means that our politicians can always claim the moral high ground with their ‘underprivileged upbringing’ (we all can do that to some degree), and we got the Four Yorkshiremen comedy sketch from it. :crazy_face:

Here’s your test: they asked.

It’s a struggle enough getting those who can’t afford something to admit they can’t afford it from the shame.

There aren’t many who can afford 70 quid for a camp that will want to “embarrass” themselves by appearing unable. That aside, most people are relatively good and moral, and understand the boundaries and importance of reserving charity for those in genuine need.

The baulchy and bold that won’t care and just want a week of free childcare are too rare to care about. But I would be raising my eyebrows if they pull up in a Q7.

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We might have a different UK Government on the 5th July - hopefully they’ll start to level things up so that no-one has to rely on charity in order to live a normal life, particularly if they are in full-time employment. Sending one’s child on a highly-subsidised Cadet Camp shouldn’t be beyond any parent’s ability to pay for it. Annual Camps always used to be on the least expensive end of the cost spectrum, and therefore available to all cadets, compared to say, the Nijmegen March or overseas camps.

Free School Meals, food banks, financial assistance for ‘low income’ families and suchlike are treating the symptoms of a national malaise, rather than focussing on curing it. :roll_eyes:

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