Top
 

Announcements

 

** EDIT: The report, which has been seen by the Prime Minister, is now available.  **

 

The Prime Minister has recommissioned The Rt. Hon. Mark Francois MP and his research team, to produce an independent report on improving Retention within the Armed Forces.

 

Following on from his successful 2017 report on Armed Forces Recruitment, Filling the Ranks, the Prime Minister has recommissioned Mark Francois MP and his research team, to produce an independent report on improving Retention within HM Armed Forces.

 

The report team would like to hear from serving personnel and their families and from those who have recently left the Armed Services, as well as from providers of services to Armed Forces families in the statutory, voluntary and charity sectors.

 

The team’s objective as set out by No. 10, is: “To understand how to create an environment that ensures the best retention of Service personnel for as long as Defence need them.” The team are required to provide initial findings to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence by the end of July 2019 – with the full report to be submitted by the end of the calendar year.

 

The report team are keen to receive evidence on those factors which materially affect retention in the Armed Services. These include, (but are not strictly limited to):
  • The pressure of service life on personnel and their families
  • Frequency of deployment/nights out of bed
  • Remuneration and the “pull factor” of alternative employment opportunities outside of the Armed Forces
  • Career progression – for both service personnel and their spouses/partners
  • Accommodation and home ownership
  • Quality of medical services available to Armed Forces personnel and their families
  • Educational issues, including the provision of special needs education to children

 

The report team is keen to hear both what is working well and what is not working well and should be improved. Unlike, Filling the Ranks, the conclusions of the report will not necessarily be revenue neutral, but any recommendations must be financially realistic. Submissions/comments should be sent to mark.francois.mp@parliament.uk by the deadline of 00:00 on the 31st May 2019. Please include ‘Stick or Twist Report’ in the subject line of the email.

 

The review will seek the first-hand experiences of currently serving, ex-Service personnel and their families, with a series of planned visits to units. All respondents and their respective data will remain anonymous and no one will be personally identified in any report.

 

Commenting on the commissioning of the report Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said,

“I am pleased that the Prime Minister has asked the Rt Hon Mark Francois MP to produce an independent report to Government to see what more can be done to understand the factors underlying Armed Forces Retention and produce recommendations on how Defence and other areas of government can set the conditions to optimise retention. This study has the full support of the Secretary of State for Defence, the Services and myself.”

 

Posted on: 8th May, 2019
Updated on: 22nd July, 2020

 

Ministers have urged all UK universities to boost support for Armed Forces communities.

 

In a joint letter dated 18th April 2019, Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, and Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister called on institutions to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant.

 

Currently 57 out of 136 UK universities have signed up to the Covenant, including 3 of the 24 Russell Group universities. The Russell Group represents those universities with a shared focus on research and a reputation for academic achievement. According to research conducted by the University of Winchester, the participation for young people from Armed Forces families in higher education is 24%, compared to a rate of approximately 43% for the overall population.

 

This call came in light of the recent announcement from Department for Education which confirmed a £5 million funding to pay the tuition fees for eligible serving personnel and Service Leavers.

 

Universities can support the Armed Forces Covenant in a number of ways including ensuring admissions policies reflect the needs of the Armed Forces community, benchmarking Service experience and qualifications against course entry requirements or having a presence at local careers fairs for those leaving the Services. Universities which have already signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant are leading the way with support for military personnel and their families, pledging to support those who wish to serve in the armed forces as Reservists, and offering flexible leave before or after deployment to personnel and their partners.

 

The Ministers have also called on universities to establish Armed Forces champions within each institution, which would be empowered to uphold the commitments of the Covenant, and to act as a first point of contact for the Armed Forces community, Service charities, and local businesses.

 

Some universities have also included Service children as a target group in their Access and Participation Plans, which all English universities will be drawing up this year for implementation in 2020/21. This is an initiative which the NFF has been actively involved in.

 

We welcome your views. Please do contact us if you have any concerns or would like to share your lived experience.

 

Further Information

 

Posted on: 24th April, 2019

 

Andrew Selous MP has been asked by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to produce an independent report to capture the needs of Service families. Key issues identified can help influence existing and future policies to help improve support available to families.

 

Mr Selous and his report team are keen to hear from spouses and partners as well as children and dependents of those who are currently serving or have recently left the Service.

 

During a visit to Royal Navy and Royal Marines agencies in Portsmouth today, Mr Selous and Prof Walker, lead adviser of the report team, joined us at our offices in HMS Excellent to meet with Naval Service family members.

 

During the meeting, they chatted to spouses and partners about their lived experience, gathering evidence in different areas of concern to help understand the issues families face.

 

One of the issues raised during this meeting was housing. Some of the families at the meeting live in Service Family Accommodation, and they told Mr Selous about living conditions, as well as suggestions on how things could be improved.

 

Another issue discussed included childcare and education; there were questions about the use of Service Pupil Premium and concerns were raised about the cost of childcare and its relation to spousal employment.

 

Finally, there was a discussion on health care and the Armed Forces Covenant. It was pointed out that accessing health services could be a challenge for those moving to a different assignment, and how the Covenant could help educate local GPs and dental clinics on this issue.

 

Anna Wright, CEO of the Naval Families Federation, said:

‘We are delighted to facilitate this open conversation and to act as a bridge to connect our Royal Navy and Royal Marines families and the government. This meeting has enabled family members to voice their concerns and give feedback about their experiences. We look forward to reading the final report.’

 

The report will be published this summer, and might provide the impetus for a further review on wider government and public-sector provision.

 

If you have missed the opportunity to submit evidence, please do contact us, as we would like to hear from you. The NFF exists to give all serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families the opportunity to have their views heard by those in positions of power, and we can challenge policy on your behalf.

 

Posted on: 4th April, 2019

Veterans’ Gateway, alongside the NFF and our colleagues at the Army and RAF Families Federations, have launched a ‘Plan Early’ campaign to encourage Service leavers and their family members to look ahead when transitioning into civvy street.

 

As highlighted in a recent reports by the three Families Federations, Lifting the Lid of Transition, findings revealed that 51% of the survey respondents did not know where to go for welfare services, and 33% of respondents believed they would be worse off financially. With that in mind, Veterans’ Gateway have come up with this campaign to ensure that Service leavers and their families are prepared for some of the challenges they could possibly be facing.

 

The campaign’s website covers important aspects and challenges Service leavers and their families may face when transitioning out of their Service, such as housing, employment, finance, mental and physical wellbeing, and family life. There are also lists of other organisations that could be useful.

 

You can watch a short video on this campaign here:

 

Visit this page for a list of FAQs on leaving the Services, written by the Families Federations. Visit this page to access the ‘Plan Early’ campaign, which holds a wealth of information.

 

Posted on: 3rd April, 2019

Did you know that Welcome Guides have been produced to help Service families as they move across the UK or return from overseas?

 

These booklets were designed to provide information you may need to help you and your family settle in to a new location. They cover aspects such as housing, education, healthcare, employment, benefits and social care and other useful information, as well as a list of supporting organisations.

 

If you are considering moving, or are due to move for an upcoming assignment order, please do read the guides, which can help to ease your mind.

Welcome to England poster.
Welcome to Wales poster.
Welcome to Scotland poster.
Northern Ireland
Currently in production. Please watch this space.

These guides can also be accessed via the Armed Forces Covenant here.

Posted on: 2nd April, 2019
Updated on: 29th March, 2021

FAM Pilot

The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) committed the Ministry of Defence to make a new accommodation offer, to help more personnel live in private accommodation and meet their aspirations for home ownership.

 

The way people live and work is changing and the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) reflects this, giving more choice to more Service personnel and their families over where, how and with whom you live.

 

Now that the pilot is live across all Services, FAM leads will test the policy and work closely with Service personnel to see how they respond. The pilot will run for around three years, and everyone’s feedback over that time will be hugely important. A decision will then be made about whether to expand FAM and roll it out to the rest of the UK over the following decade.

 

On 1st April 2019, more information on the model was released. The MOD has produced the following videos to give you an overview of FAM:

 

 

 

FAM is now live at HMNB Clyde, Aldershot Garrison and RAF Wittering.

Under FAM, entitlement to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) will no longer be allocated according to the rank of individuals, but will instead focus on the size of the family, promoting fairness and ensuring homes are fit for purpose. For those living on, or assigned to, HMNB Clyde it is important to know that Single Living Accommodation (SLA) and SFA will still be available, with no SFA properties sold off because of the pilot.

 

If you are happy in your current SLA or SFA at one of the pilot locations don’t worry, you don’t need to take any action. However, if you’d now like to consider renting or buying a home in the local area with support from the MOD, FAM makes this possible:

Eligibility
  • Regular or Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment)
  • Based at one of the pilot locations with 12 months or more left on your draft, or have an assignment there of 12 months or more during the pilot
  • Have 4 or more years of Service
Applications

If you decide you want to change your current accommodation and you want to rent then you will need to complete an Accommodation Preference Form (APF) in JPA. If you want to buy a house then you do not fill out the APF, instead you’ll need to take your legal paperwork to your Unit Personnel Office (UPO). If you choose to stay in your current SLA or SFA then you don’t need to do anything.

 

If you are due to be assigned to HMNB Clyde, you can choose your accommodation in line with the FAM policies. You can submit your APF in advance of your start date.

Note: Long Term Relationships (LTR)

It was also announced that Service personnel who are in a long-term relationship or have residential responsibility for a child will now be able to apply to live together in surplus SFA at all UK bases where properties are available, provided that you met the criteria. Please note that this is not part of FAM, but rather a new policy. This is not an entitlement to SFA. Find out more about your eligibility here.

Enquiries/ Further details
HMNB Clyde FAM Cell
Housing Options Scotland

Housing Options Scotland’s (HOS) “Military Matters” programme supports members of the Armed Forces community with any housing needs or issues. The charity offers free, independent information, advice and support to those who get in touch, and they can help with all kinds of housing tenure – from renting privately to social housing and home ownership.

 

Karen Campbell is the Military Matters broker at HOS and works with clients from the Armed Forces community. Support is offered on a 1-1 basis, where every client receives information and advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

 

Discover My Benefits

Find out what you could receive in payments and allowances, if you rent or buy a home under FAM via Discover My Benefits.

Information on gov.uk
Attachments

The MOD and the NFF’s Homeport magazine have also produced videos, articles and leaflets that can help you understand this update better:

Step-by-step guide:

 

Here’s what the first people to benefit from new choices in accommodation in HMNB Clyde have to say about FAM:

FAM informational poster.
FAM informational poster.
FAM guide front page.
Guide for existing renters at HMNB Clyde
FAM informational poster.
All you need to know about FAM (Homeport Summer '19, p.37-40)

The Naval Families Federation welcomes your thoughts on this pilot. Please do contact us.

 

Posted on: 1st April, 2019
Updated on: 15th October, 2020

 

FAMCAS 2019 is now closed – view the results here.

 

You may have been asked by your serving partner to complete the Families Continuous Attitude Survey (FAMCAS). The survey asks questions about key welfare areas including family life, childcare, deployment, education, employment, healthcare, and housing. It provides spouses/civil partners with an opportunity to share their views on what life is like being with a member of the Armed Forces. In the previous years, the survey was sent to a random selection of Service families located both within the UK and overseas. However, FAMCAS is now open to all Service spouses/partners.

 

We would really encourage you to take part in the survey as the results from the survey are used to aid the development and monitoring of military personnel policies and welfare initiatives. They are also used to inform and monitor Defence personnel programmes (such as the Armed Forces People Programme) and aim to address all types of challenges faced by the families of service personnel. All replies will be treated in the strictest confidence and are completely anonymous. Your individual responses will only be seen by the civilian researchers conducting this survey and external data input contractors.

 

You may be thinking, “What about me? I am not the legal spouse of the serving person, but their service has a big impact on me/my children, and I should be invited to comment.” We agree. We are meeting with the researchers working for FAMCAS to encourage the development of a more inclusive and useful survey that more accurately reflects modern family life. We also know that dual serving couples find it difficult to complete the FAMCAS. We will update you with any progress made in this area. In the meantime, please do have a go at completing the survey. Feel free to get in touch with us with any additional feedback you may wish us to pass on.

 

Posted on: 10th April, 2018
Updated on: 29th July, 2019

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and Relate have launched a free relationship counselling portal for Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their partners.

 

The RNRMC Building Stronger Families portal is a self-directed online learning programme supporting naval couple and family relationships.

 

This project is a joint venture between the RNRMC, the National Charity of the Royal Navy, and the UK’s leading relationships charity, Relate, and builds on the successful relationship and family counselling introduced in 2016.

 

Both serving and former RN and RM personnel and their partners can sign up to the service for free, where they will then have access to seven different modules.

 

The courses are intended to support RNRM relationships with topics ranging from Military Life, Sexual Communication and Intimacy, to Family Life and Parenting.

 

The Building Stronger Families portal can be accessed here. For more information please visit here.

 

Posted on: 12th February, 2019

Pioneering research into the effects of ‘weekending’ – non-operational separations – on Naval Service families has been unveiled by the Naval Families Federation at Admiralty House in London.

 

At a gathering of influential military and civilian supporters of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, drawn from the Services, charities and industry, NFF Chief Executive Anna Wright said the new research indicated that the effects of weekending on spouses and children matched those of longer deployments, affecting relationships, spousal employment and general wellbeing.

 

With the Naval Service keen to recruit and retain the best talent to its ranks, this research will improve understanding of the families’ perceptions of the challenges and opportunities they face, which can affect serving personnel, particularly as their place of work is often far from the family home.

 

Anna said that “of the three Services, the Naval Service has the most separation in terms of military deployments. That is an issue in its own right.

 

“What is less well-known is that, of the three Services, the Naval Service also has the most non-operational separation.”

 

Drawing on their own family experiences, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones both acknowledged the importance of families in the operational effectiveness of the Naval Service, and the challenges caused by such separations.

 

Mr Williamson noted that ‘family’ is an important concept in the Service, and thanked the NFF for undertaking the project.

 

He also told the audience, representing Naval Service families and their support network, that “we always recognise that you being stronger, our Armed Forces are stronger.”

 

Speaking of the research, Admiral Jones said: “Many aspects of Service life, including time spent away from home as a result of working for the Royal Navy, are not easily compatible with family life and I am acutely aware that we ask a lot of our people and their families too.

 

“We are constantly looking to improve the wellbeing of our Naval Service families and there is much work in progress with Royal Navy Royal Marine Welfare, NFF and the Service charities.

 

“However, we can only change things for the better if we have a clear understanding of what really matters to all who serve and the families upon whose unswerving support we all rely.

 

“So I really welcome this report by the NFF which provides really valuable insights on which we can act, and in so doing ensure that life in the Naval Service is as good as it can be for our people and their families.”

Speaker behind a lectern.
Speaker behind a lectern.

The third guest speaker was NFF Homeport magazine columnist, blogger and Naval wife ‘Olive Oyl’, who gave her own take on separation from husband ‘Popeye’ in a sparkling speech that prompted laughter and knowing looks from many in the audience.

 

Summing up the findings, Anna said the challenges faced by families included difficulties in balancing careers with childcare while the partner is away, the placing of more responsibility on older children and a feeling of being under pressure to cram weekends with ‘quality time’ as a family.

 

Many spouses, said Anna, spoke of the sense of ‘just coping’ with the additional responsibilities, resulting in stress, anxiety and tiredness – though she reminded those gathered that Naval families are a resilient group, and there was no question of whingeing.

 

“So there we have it – we have an in-tray to tackle,” she concluded.

 

“The NFF are up for it, and we hope that you are too – our ‘just-coping’ families deserve no less.”

 

The findings of the research – commissioned by the NFF and carried out by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), funded by Greenwich Hospital – will be used by the MOD, senior military personnel and military charities to help improve support for Naval Service families.

 

Read the executive summary here. The full report can be downloaded here.

 

One immediate result of the project is the production by the NFF of a resource for parents and carers.

 

Titled ‘A Guide for Parents and Adults Supporting Children and Young People’, the publication – described by Anna as ‘light-hearted and empowering’ – was created by Bridget Nicholson of the NFF to offer strategies and encouragement for families affected by all forms of separation and those who support them; one finding of the research was that there is a general lack of appreciation that shorter separations still have a significant impact, and the booklet is in part designed to help address that.

 

The publication is available in hard-copy format from the NFF, or can be downloaded here. *Regrettably, we are only able to send hard copies to our beneficiaries due to resource constraints.*

Gallery
Crowd talking.
Speaker behind a lectern.
The Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Alexander Williamson and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones addressing guests at the Naval Families Federation.
Crowd talking.
Team photo.
Crowd talking.

Images UK MOD Crown Copyright 2019

Posted on: 7th February, 2019
Updated on: 21st June, 2019

 

The Secretary of State for Defence has asked Andrew Selous MP to produce an independent report to Government to see what more support can be offered to Service families.

 

The report will analyse the different experiences of Service family members, focussing on:

  • Spouses and civil partners
  • Long term partners
  • Children and dependents

 

The report team would like to hear from serving personnel and their families and from those who have recently left the armed services, as well as from providers of services to Armed Forces families in the statutory, voluntary and charity sectors.

 

The report team would like to receive evidence in respect of the following areas, but would also welcome evidence in any other areas of concern:

  1. Accommodation and home ownership
  2. Deployment lengths and frequencies
  3. Children’s education
  4. Health services
  5. Employment of non-serving members of the Armed Forces community
  6. Pressures on service couple and family relationships
  7. Transition to civilian life for the whole family
  8. Numbers of house moves

 

The report team is keen to hear what is working well in addition to what needs to be improved.

 

Submissions/comments should be sent to andrew.selous.mp@parliament.uk by the 15th of March. ‘Independent Report on Service Families’ should be included in the Subject line of the email.

 

The review will seek the first-hand experiences of military families. All families and their data will remain anonymous and no-one will be personally identified in any report. The review team will not retain any data after the report has been published. All discussions will be completely confidential and the information received will never be shared with anyone else.

 

** Edit: The consultation period has ended on 15th March. **

 

We were delighted to host Andrew Selous MP and Prof Jan Walker, lead of his research team, at our offices in HMS Excellent on 4th April 2019. We were joined by over a dozen of serving personnel and Service spouses/partners. Read the news story here.

 

If you have missed the opportunity to submit evidence, please do contact us, as we would like to hear from you. The NFF exists to give all serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families the opportunity to have their views heard by those in positions of power, and we can challenge policy on your behalf.

 

 

Posted on: 4th February, 2019
Updated on: 5th April, 2019