As the number of flights across the UK has dropped dramatically, many NATS employees have been put on extended periods of furlough.

During this time, many have been volunteering, serving and supporting their communities in a variety of ways…

Allan Warren, Commercial Manager

I’m a keen apiarist (bee keeper) and while on furlough I wanted to help the local school I already volunteer with. I set up hives and equipment for the children at Wicor Primary school in Portchester around six years ago and with some support from our Footprint Fund I was able to get equipment and safety clothing for the pupils.

As the school stayed opened for key workers and vulnerable children, the teachers were working flat out both to lesson plan online and send home-school packs out, and while still running a regular school even through half term.  I offered to go in three to four hours a day to run socially distanced bee keeping activities which complimented the children’s learning through science, maths and being outdoors and thereby gave the teachers some respite.

I used the bee activities we use for the beekeepers club, which are practical and attention grabbing and make the children think like a bee! The teachers get some support and I get a day talking about what I love doing and the kids have to think, plan, calculate and waggle!

Allan with some of the children at Wicor Primary School (photo taken before social distancing measures were put in place).

Blain Kelly, Safety Manager

I already volunteer for a charity called SERV Wessex ( We deliver urgent blood, blood products, human milk, and other urgent medical consignments by motorbike. We also replenish the blood supplies on the Hampshire & Isle of Wight air ambulance every 48hrs.

More recently it has been really busy so while on furlough I spent a lot of time on duty as we have been moving a lot of Covid-19 samples around to ensure they can be tested on time, and we have also been delivering controlled medication to the vulnerable. I’ve volunteered with SERV Wessex for 18 months.

In addition to doing the deliveries on the bike, I volunteer as a ‘controller’ doing the dispatch task and planning logistics. I also sit on the committee of the charity as the Secretary.

This is me sat in my happy place!

Blain Kelly on a SERV Wessex ‘Blood Bike’

Stuart Little, Air Traffic Controller

Since being furloughed in March, I’ve been doing various activities to help in the community where I live, while also continuing to give support to work colleagues as a peer supporter, and as a member of the Critical Incident Team.

I joined the local Ferndown community coronavirus support group, which in the early days meant I was leaflet-dropping houses in my local area with our contact details for anyone requiring assistance. Within an hour of the leaflet drop we had two texts and a phone call either thanking us or asking for assistance, and as the group matured, we were put in touch with more people who needed support – we’re now looking after five households.

I’ve also signed up for some other activities: I’m an NHS responder for the NHS app SAM and have had several alerts through and this can be anything from just a chat with someone who may be lonely to assisting with collecting medicines or shopping.

I was also able to get involved with Project Wingman: flight crews who were offering rest services in NHS hospitals. Initially, I contacted offering to volunteer as an aviation worker, however when they found out about my NATS peer support experience they asked me to assist in setting up their own network for their 5,000 volunteers. The flight crews, through talking to NHS workers, are exposed to the frontline stories and experiences and are able to see the direct consequences of working in the current crisis. Additionally, many of these flight crew have been made redundant or are facing redundancy and they also require support mechanisms. I am also on the roster for the NHS peer support, where NHS frontline key workers can use the NATS peer support network (read more about this project here).

It’s tough times at the moment and if you’re off work, just giving up a little bit of time to help those who may be vulnerable or shielding is a really worthwhile activity to hopefully give something back.

Stuart volunteering at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2018


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