Tuesday 26th February 2019

The families’ experience and the support they need

By Louise Briggs, Transition Liaison Project Manager

It’s hard to believe that over two years have gone by, but in 2016, I started work on a two year, tri-service research project together with the Naval and Army Families Federations to undertake research into families’ experiences of transition out of the Armed Forces and to make recommendations on support they need.

On 1st November 2018, our report was published by the Forces in Mind Trust. You can find more information on Transitioning on the RAF FF website.

Our report is the first to specifically look at the lived experience of service families, and reveals the complex nature of transition.

The report tells us:

  • Families are affected by transition as well as the service leaver.
  • Transition is about more than just employment – housing, health, education, finances and wellbeing are all
    factors as well.
  • Support needs to be available to families, not just the service leaver. Families want to be involved and to help.
  • The more a family prepares in advance for civvy street, the more successful the transition.
  • It’s never too early to prepare for life outside the RAF. The fact that a service person will leave one day is perhaps one of the only certainties of service life! Visit our website for more information and tips to get started.
  • Unexpected doesn’t have to be unplanned – if you have given some thought to the future it will help enormously when you leave, or especially when you leave unexpectedly.

“Start early. Plan early, before resettlement starts if you can. Take about four years to get used to the idea, think hard about where you want to live if you can. Re-establish links with civilian friends and family that you might be going to live near. Investigate civilian sources of help and advice.

Put feelers on LinkedIn to get a sense of opportunities for work for the service leaver. It all helps to get in the mindset…” RAF family

We are enormously grateful to everyone who has helped over the course of the project – the families who have given us their time and benefit of their experiences and the organisations who have so willingly engaged with us.

Click on the image to read report

What is the RAF Families Federation doing?

  • We have developed new resources to help families (and service personnel) – all available on the transition pages of our website.
  • Our new Families Transition Guide ‘Departures’ will be available soon through our website and in hard copy.
  • With the continued support of FiMT we have been able to continue to work to influence key service providers to better benefit families in transition and to raise awareness of what you have told us is needed.
  • We will continue to represent families and service leavers in this area, collecting evidence and seeking to influence policy makers and service delivery. So do report your experiences and issues to us through completing our issues form online.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“The process of transition is not solely about the service personnel, it affects the entire family unit. What has become clear, from the library of research funded by FiMT, is that the earlier planning for leaving the Armed Forces starts, the more successful and sustainable is the transition. “The recommendations within this report highlight the need to do more to ensure that the families of service personnel are given the support required to successfully navigate the transition pathway.”

Maria Lyle, Director of the RAF FF said:

“This piece of work is a really timely insight into how families can be better supported through the significant changes that occur during transition. I know that this work will be hugely helpful to both RAF, MOD and the new Defence Transition Services as they look to understand how they best help families prepare for the future.”

Government & MOD developments

The government has made a number of announcements in late 2018 and this year, that affect service personnel and their families while they are still serving, in the process of leaving, and
afterwards. The Veterans’ Strategy, launched in November 2018, included the announcement of a new tri service Transition Policy, offering a more ‘holistic’ approach to planning for transition, helping serving personnel and families better prepare throughout career for life outside the forces. Our research showed that this is one of the key elements leading to successful transition. We continue to represent families in this important area of policy development through our meetings with Ministers and MOD and we will keep you updated on developments.

This article is part of the Spring edition of Envoy magazine. If you’d like to receive your own quarterly copy of Envoy, it’s free. Simply sign up online.

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