The first-ever national Forces Playday has been launched to help children often missing parents during the pandemic to rediscover the joy of playing outside.

Forces Playday recognises the contribution of the Armed Forces to supporting local communities over the past 18 months and aims to reconnect military communities, increase wellbeing and boost morale amongst Forces families.

It is sponsored by housebuilder Annington in partnership with the Armed Forces and Playing Out, a parent and residents-led street play movement growing across the UK.

It allows every military base to purchase equipment and traditional toys such as skipping ropes and chalks, as well as providing training from Playing Out for military personnel supervising the play sessions.

READ ALSO: Covid rule changes today - do I have to self-isolate after 16th August?

Annington has also provided Road Closed signs manufactured by the Armed Forces’ charity Royal British Legion Industries' (RBLI) social enterprise Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.

All equipment will be retained by the bases so further supervised play sessions can be run throughout the summer holidays.

The initiative was launched on Playday, the national day that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives and celebrates children’s right to play in the UK, traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August.

So far the scheme has benefited 8,500 Forces youngsters at more than 70 Army, Navy and RAF bases across the UK.

Alice Ferguson, co-director at Playing Out, said: “I would like to thank Annington on behalf of Playing Out and all the military children that are benefiting from play streets this summer. Playing outside and being part of your community is an essential part of a happy healthy childhood and it’s fantastic that Annington and the Armed Forces are supporting this to happen.”

Jane Harsham, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Annington, said: “The Armed Forces have been the unsung heroes of the past year and their children have played their part too, with thousands having dealt with greater periods of parental absence.

READ ALSO: Oxford no longer receiving extra government help to lower Covid cases

"Sponsoring the first national Forces Playday and providing military communities with the opportunity to reconnect through the celebration of children’s outdoor play has provided important relief at this time.

"We hope everyone has a great summer.”

Annington built the The Crescent development in Carterton on the site of former MOD housing connected to RAF Brize Norton.

It is also owner of the married quarters housing connected to Armed Forces bases in Oxfordshire, including RAF Benson in Wallingford, RAF Bicester, RAF Kingston, RAF Northwood, Dalton Barracks in Abingdon and Shrivenham Barracks.