Wednesday 10th April 2024

Posted with King’s Colour Squadron providing ceremonial support and managing a team of 30 personnel, Lance Corporal Shameem Kabir loved his career in the RAF. However, with his wife on maternity leave with their second child and expensive transport costs for work, the family found themselves in debt. Unsure of what to do, Kabir applied for a one-off financial grant from the Fund, which helped the couple get back on their feet.   

Shameem Kabir (known as Kabir) joined the RAF in 2015, after moving to the UK from Bangladesh to study. One of his karate friends was keen to join the military, so Kabir helped him with training, and that was when he decided he also wanted to pursue a career in the Armed Forces and have a more outdoorsy job. Kabir applied to the RAF Regiment and was successful – following his basic training he was posted to King’s Colour Squadron (Queen’s Colour Squadron at the time), where he took part in ceremonial duties and worked his way up to Lance Corporal.

He also spent some time deployed to his home country Bangladesh, where he worked as a linguist on Operation Monogram as part of the joint counter terrorism training team. There, he trained specialist police officers.

It was during his basic training that Kabir learnt about the Fund, when a representative came to RAF Honington. “I signed up to Service Day Pay Giving straightaway and did some fundraising for the Fund as part of King’s Colour Squadron – we did a 10-mile tyre flip in 2016 and on another occasion pulled an aircraft for 1km. It didn’t cross my mind I would need to reach out to them for support though.”

Kabir and his wife Gosia started to struggle financially when Gosia went on maternity leave with their second child. His wife was receiving statutory maternity pay which didn’t cover the family’s mortgage. Kabir was also having to spend £350 on fuel every month to get to-and-from work which, along with other bills and living costs, made life difficult.

Kabir said: “My wife is a primary school teacher, and without her full salary, we were getting about £2,000 a month less income. Nursery for both children was too expensive for her to go back to work. We had no option but to use our credit card and borrow money from family members which we used for basic supplies like food and milk for the children.

“It started to affect me mentally – I knew I wasn’t providing enough money for the family. I was so busy with work and often worked weekends – I had no scope to work a second job. I thought we were going to lose our house and we’d have to move. My six year old son’s very shy and moving school would have been difficult for him.”

After maxing out their credit card, it got to the stage where Kabir had to look for support. “We weren’t eligible for Universal Credit, so I decided to look on the Fund’s website, and saw that I could apply for a one-off financial grant of £750. I didn’t even have to speak with anyone, I could just fill out an online form and provide evidence. After two weeks I got a reply, and I was so relieved to see that we were granted the money.”

“We bought a much-needed buggy and household food, and also paid off our gas bill. Before the money was transferred, I had £12 left in my account. It meant so much and made a huge difference to our lives. It gave us the headspace to rearrange our finances and restart, enabling us to positively plan for the future.”

He added: “By December we paid off the credit card and I moved teams to RAF Halton to be closer to our home in Aylesbury. My commute is now short, so the transport costs are minimal and my wife is back to working part-time. I have weekends off so I can spend more time with my family.”

“The Fund gave us the clean slate we so desperately needed. I’d encourage anyone in the RAF with similar experiences to mine to get in touch with the Fund – even if you don’t want to talk to someone, you can fill out the online application. I’m so grateful for the support we received.”

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