Service personnel are to receive millions in new grants in a bid to boost their quality of life.
The Naafi Welfare Fund will allocate £750,000 a year for the next decade. Any Armed Forces individual or unit can apply, and payouts range from £5,000 to £20,000. Since the scheme was launched at the end of 2020 it has been inundated with applications – more than 400 in the first round when only around 50 were expected.
“We are delighted to offer this money,” said Naafi Managing Director Steve Marshall. “We exist to enhance the welfare of Forces communities and we are excited to fund projects that will bring people together, help reduce isolation and enhance lives.”
Applications for the second round of grants will open next month, and successful bidders should be notified in September.
Mary Pittuck, the Naafi manager responsible for the initiative, said proposals had so far included communal gardens, block games rooms and outdoor sports equipment. She added that, although the project had been planned for a while, its timing during the pandemic would bring an extra boost to troops. “It feels like this will raise morale even more now, given the context of what’s happening in the world,” she told Soldier. “Applications have covered a real cross-section of things, and that’s been really interesting to see.”
Naafi is the MoD’s in-house service provider, which means that all surplus profit from its catering and retail outlets goes back into military coffers. In 2020/21 that amount will total around £1 million. The welfare grants are being funded by the organisation’s cash reserve, and applications are sifted by Naafi before being administrated by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
Soldier. (2021) Splashing Out On Soldiers. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. March 2021, pp.7.