Supporting Reservists called forward to assist

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

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On Reserves Day, long-serving Army Reservist, Professor Vince Connelly, writes about the importance of Reservists to the Covid-19 response, how his research is supporting the welfare of Reservists and their families, and how he is able to balance his commitment to the Army Reserve with his role as Programme Lead for Psychology at Oxford Brookes.

I joined the Army Reserve for the experience of something quite different alongside my academic career.

I have been able to balance my Army Reserve commitment around my work here at Oxford Brookes. My recent role commanding a Communications Regiment primarily involved evening and weekend training but the University gives some special leave for Reservists to cover longer absences.

Our research at Brookes led to the production of practical guidance for the Army on looking after the welfare of Reservist families during the COVID-19 crisis.

Vince Connelly, Professor in Psychology and Army Reservist

I have also been able to secure funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and other sources with colleagues from Oxford Brookes and other universities over the last few years to study Armed Forces Reservists. For example, how Reservists juggle civilian work and family life with the demands of Reserve service.

The Armed Forces can seem like quite a closed institution from the outside. Reservists offer the Armed Forces greater diversity; diversity of background, occupation, ways of thinking and experience. They provide both a critical friend and a closer link to UK society for the Armed Forces as well as reinforcement in a crisis.

Our research at Oxford Brookes on Reservists and family support led to the production of practical guidance for the Army on looking after the welfare of Reservist families during the COVID-19 crisis when Reservists were called forward to assist.

Presently there are close to two thousand Reservists from across the Armed Forces who have been assisting the COVID-19 effort. Their knowledge of local conditions and the diversity of thought and experience they bring has been harnessed to good effect. From assisting local authorities to help co-ordinate efforts, delivering PPE, staffing testing centres, building medical facilities and providing specialist support to the NHS and other government departments, Reservists have been involved wholesale in the Armed Forces' response to the pandemic.

As part of my role in the Army Reserve, I have provided the Army with a report on the lessons identified from the use of Reservists for COVID-19 so that future planning can be improved.