6th October, 2021
A groundbreaking NFF project to gain an insight into how Naval families were feeling during the Covid-19 pandemic has reached a milestone in its progress.
Time, On My Watch was born of the desire to reach out to families during a time of isolation when our normal face-to-face channels of communication – families days, coffee mornings and the like – were closed off to us.
Instead, prompted by an initiative by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, we explored ways in which we could use creative processes to see how our families were coping with the additional stresses and strains which were inevitable in the uncertain times of the summer of 2020.
Our initial engagements with families suggested that the approach would bear fruit, so we developed our bid, which was approved by the Trust.
The next step was to enlist the considerable expertise of professional artist Tim Mann, who offered a very different perspective on what was, for the NFF, a very different initiative.
Naval families were invited to submit their thoughts on the concept of time, and how it affected them, representing those thoughts in the form of drawings, poems, handicrafts or photography.
The Story Behind ‘Time, On My Watch’
This collection, we believe, presents a powerful message, delivered in creative work that ranges across the emotional scale, from heartfelt words to dark doodles.
They hint at how people seize special moments, or steel themselves for a patient wait, or watch as the sands of time slip away, highlighting some coping strategies adopted by the Naval community and the effects that separation has on both the deployed and their families back home.
One strong theme that emerges from the works is that of the importance of the community in supporting one another – which came as no surprise to the NFF team.
The honesty and openness displayed makes the collection all the more valuable as a means of communication – and justifies our original intention to somehow capture the spirit of the project for posterity.
One longer-term ambition is to make the collection accessible to all, possibly in the format of an online exhibition, and a more traditional touring exhibition is also an option that could be considered.
But the latest development is a book which presents the works anonymously as a miscellany, and which will be presented to key policy and decision-makers in the military and government to help inform their thinking, and to contributors to the project.
Displayed on this page are some of the works submitted; our thanks go to all of you who took part and made the project so worthwhile.