British Public Urged: Keep Christmas Postal System Clear For Military Families’ Mail

Members of the public wishing to show their support for Servicemen and women on operations overseas this Christmas are being encouraged to donate to charities which are helping make this Christmas for our Armed Forces a memorable one.

There is now one week left for Armed Forces families to send presents, cards and other items to Afghanistan, with a postal deadline of 3 December.

The Ministry of Defence is urging generous members of the public to consider service charities as an alternative way of showing their support, rather than sending parcels to troops overseas.

While the kindness and generosity of individuals and groups, who send boxes of treats out to operational theatres, is greatly appreciated. However, the sheer volume of such mail delays the mail sent by family members and loved ones, while the unintentional inclusion of inappropriate items causes serious difficulties for those charged with distributing all supplies, including post.

Head of British Forces Post Office, Northolt, Brigadier Russell Beattie said: “All the staff throughout the British Forces Post Office network worldwide are focussed on the particular challenges of getting personal mail through at Christmas. This is of course particularly important where it concerns service personnel deployed on operations, not least because of the often acute difficulties of reaching individuals in some very inaccessible locations. Whilst the sentiment behind the public wishing to send welfare parcels is gratefully acknowledged it is far better that they donate to established Service charities as they can focus support directly to areas of greatest need.”

The volume of mail arriving at Camp Bastion for onward distribution can pose three challenges:

–          Personal mail sent to deployed personnel by their loved ones can become significantly delayed amidst all the other items from members of the public. Receiving a letter or a gift from a family member or loved one is very important for morale, and for the peace of mind of families back home. While unsolicited parcels are without doubt gratefully received, the delays they inevitably cause to the much more valued personal mail are considerably less welcome.

–          Delivering goodwill parcels to forward operating bases needs additional helicopter re-supply flights and road convoys which can place service personnel at additional risk in what is already a difficult and dangerous operating environment. Every time an additional convoy is laid on, more troops are put at risk of enemy attack.

–          Many of the items included in the public’s welfare parcels are either already readily available in theatre or are simply not appropriate for the Afghan environment, and therefore can go to waste.

The MoD has drawn up a list of recommended service charities, which accept public donations to assist deployed personnel, and their families back at home.

Some of these funds send welfare parcels to Afghanistan, but they do so in consultation and partnership with the Armed Forces, and in a co-ordinated way which does not put undue pressure on resources. This list of charities can be found below or on-line at www.mod.uk.

The charity uk4u Thanks! are sending 22,000 Christmas Boxes to personnel serving around the world. One of the charity’s trustees, Sally Little, explained: “uk4u Thanks! is very grateful for all the support we receive. Donations enable us to fund our Christmas Box campaign, with everyone serving overseas or in hospital over Christmas receiving a box of presents and treats. We make sure everyone receives their box, and it means a great deal to our Servicemen and women knowing the public are thinking of them at this special time.”