Parental Absence and Family Support – Useful Resources
1. NFF Parental Absence Resource
Being a parent and raising children is exciting and rewarding, but it can be tough at times for any family. The amount, patterns and types of parental absence faced by Royal Navy and Royal Marines families present additional challenges that are not routinely experienced by most civilian families.
In response to feedback from families, the Naval Families Federation has produced a resource about the experience of parental absence. The purpose of the resource is to draw together some useful information about parental absence and separation, and provide some strategies to help families thrive.
Request a copy
If you are a parent, it may also be helpful to give a copy to your child’s school, or to other people in your network, to help them to understand your circumstances.
You can download a free copy here.
Alternatively, Royal Navy and Royal Marines families, and those supporting them, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy. Regrettably, we are only able to send hard copies to our beneficiaries due to resource constraints.
2. Recommended Reading
Separation and deployment are part and parcel of Royal Navy and Royal Marines Service life. We have put together a book list with a wide range of topics suitable for all ages to help you through the challenges this lifestyle may bring.
3. Strengthening Families – By Your Side
‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’, an offer of support for all Royal Navy and Royal Marines families, was officially launched on 1st September 2020. Developed by the NFF and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), the project aims to provide RN/RM families the right support, at the right time. Please note, this programme officially extended its eligibility to serving RFA families as of April 2022.
Please click on the images to view the enlarged version. Find out more about how this can help you and your loved ones from the sections below or click here to visit RNRMC’s website for further details.
Relate are the UK’s largest provider of relationship support.
- ‘Building Stronger Families’ is a free-of-charge, self-directed relationship online learning portal for RN/RM Service personnel and their partners.
- Free face-to-face, online and telephone counselling is also available. They can help with relationships, family life and parenting, separation and divorce and help for children, young people and young adults. It also includes bereavement and loss support. You can contact them via their dedicated RN/RM hotline (01302 380 279) or visit this page.
Free support programmes that help parents cope better with circumstances that challenge inter-parental relationships and reduce conflict. Parents can access them together or individually.
Support for children and young people
Dame Agnes Weston’s Royal Charity for the Naval Service (or “Aggie Weston’s”) is one of the oldest Naval charities. Aggies supports RN, RM, QARNNS and RFA personnel, together with their families.
- Aggie’s Pastoral Workers offer support by phone, through social media, at events, or on occasions through home visits. The team are to listen, encourage, signpost and provide practical support.
KIDS provides a wide range of support services to disabled children, young people and their families across England, supporting over 13,500 families each year. They work with children with any disability from birth to 25 years of age, offering support to the whole family with the aim of giving disabled children a brighter future.
- KIDS support young carers aged 7-19 across England.
- They also run weekly Staying Positive group for young disabled people aged 14-25 (Gosport and Havant).
Kings Active Foundation exist to get children active, having fun and learning together.
- Kings run activity camps at Naval establishments over school holidays for children aged 5-17 with a serving parent. The cost is subsidised by the RNRMC. Those who live away from base port areas can also take part in the camps at a civilian location near them with the same subsidised cost.
- Teenagers aged between 15-17 and take part in the Rookie Academy. It is a sports leadership programme where participants will learn how to coach and be a young leader through practical, hands-on activities. This qualification can be added to their CV and included in any future application where part of the assessment is on practical leadership skills.
- The Weekender for 14 – 17s to gain confidence, meet new people, learn new life skills and a taster experience of University life.
- Tri-service residential for young people (13-18 yrs) to meet and share their views and experiences – giving a voice to the young adults of military parents.
- RN Residential Week: outdoor activities to help children (8–14 yrs) develop some independence away from electronics and the home environment.
- RN Youth Network: For 11-19 yrs to come together regularly (virtually) with their peers for fun activities and support in the production of supporting materials.
Aggies supports RN, RM, QARNNS and RFA personnel, together with their families.
- Aggies holds groups for spouses & toddlers, craft sessions, after-school homework clubs, social events, StorybookWaves, book clubs, holiday clubs, financial management courses and special interest groups.
When families feel isolated and lack support around them, nurturing a family can feel a real struggle; Home-Start is there so that no naval family feels alone in the critical task of raising children. Your local Home-Start can offer both practical and emotional support to anyone struggling with the demands of young children, irrespective of circumstances. Help might include:
- Independent confidential support and a non-judgmental listening ear,
- Regular visits from a new friend who can provide an extra pair of hands and practical help,
- Connecting to other parents and families.
Mellow Mums is an 8 week informal, confidential one-hour session delivered on Zoom with a Home-Start Co-ordinator.Mums connect with others in a similar situation, no matter where they are in the country or overseas. Confidential facilitated groups run every 3 months and over 8 weeks bring mum’s together, create a space where they can talk, share experiences, get information, make new friends and create an ongoing support network.
The Naval Children’s Charity (NCC, formerly the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children’s Fund) offers help to children up to the age of 25 with a parent or guardian who is a current or former member of the Royal Navy including the Reserves and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
- NCC offers help to their beneficiaries by providing grants, advice and guidance.
- NCC offers free books to help children to understand feelings when a parent goes away.
The Sailors Childrens Society provides financial, practical and emotional support.
Information and support
Have you signed up to the Royal Navy Forum yet?
The Royal Navy Forum is a safe and secure environment to engage with RN/RM Families to ensure they are INFORMED INVOLVED INTOUCH with the Royal Navy and its stakeholders. The topics area works as a notice board to inform readers on all aspects and updates from the MOD and external stakeholders – this is an open area – should you wish to have these updates into your mailbox then all you need to do is join and subscribe to the areas you are interested in.
Inside the Members area, you will find Local Support groups, Unit and Network areas, Overseas and Training Establishments which provide more bespoke information and discussion areas to engage with like-minded people.
To join, you or your family and friends need your full name as it is on JPA and your Service Number. Once in, navigate to the areas of interest and ask to join – the RN Forum Team will let you in. Don’t forget to click on the bell to follow and receive regular updates to your inbox.
4. Subsidised holiday camps for young people
As part of ‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’ (see section above), young people from serving RN/RM/RFA families can apply to access sports and activity camps right across the UK at a subsidised rate. This is a partnership between the RNRMC and the Kings Active Foundation.
5 - 14 years olds
- Baseport areas: The camps are available at selected bases and establishments during school holidays. Please check out the RNRMC’s website and their social media channels for the latest news and updates.
- Other locations: For those who live away from baseport areas, you can also book your children onto any of Kings Camp’s 55 nationwide non-military locations – click for a list of venues. When making the booking, please mention that you a RN/RM family in order to receive the discount.
14 - 17 years olds
15 - 17 years olds
Rookie Academy is a sports leadership programme where participants will learn how to coach and be a young leader through practical, hands-on activities. This qualification can be added to their CV and included in any future application where part of the assessment is on practical leadership skills.
5. Thriving Lives toolkit
The Service Children’s Progression Alliance (SCiP Alliance), has worked with partners across the UK to develop a self-reflection tool for schools to consider their support for children in Armed Forces families. Underpinned by rigorous research and thoroughly tested in school, the Thriving Lives Toolkit provides schools with a framework of 7 principles through which to reflect on their practice and suite of resources developed in collaboration with a range of partners across the UK.
Parents are encouraged to share this resource with their children’s school(s).
6. The Annington Challenge
Annington offers subsided places to young people aged 10-19 from serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines families to join Outward Bound courses. The courses encourage participants to reach out of their comfort zone and take on new challenges.
You can check your eligibility or to apply via the Outward Bound website.
The editor of Homeport magazine paid a visit to North Wales, where one of the courses was held. Find out more about that course and read what the young people thought from the Autumn ’22 edition of the magazine (p.6-7). Please note, since the publication of the magazine, the eligibility has been widened from 11-19 to 10-19.
6. Deployment Support
The Families Federations have collaborated with Service Children In State Schools (SCISS) to create this useful resource with links and signposting to raise awareness of support offered by organisations to help children from an Armed Forces background during times of deployment.