Lt Col Brian (Edd) Gordon is the Army Carers Advocate – responsible for raising awareness of the issues within the army for those service personnel with caring responsibilities, advocating respect, fair treatment, equality of opportunity, and fostering good relations in an inclusive workplace.

A carer is anyone, including children and adults, who looks after a family member, partner or friend who cannot cope without support because of an illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or an addiction. The care is unpaid.

“I’ve been in the army for 30 years and for over 20 of these, my wife and I have been carers for our mentally and physically disabled son, Harry,” explains Edd. “Everyone’s needs are different, and I have linked with both the Parents’ Network and the Disability Networks to try and ensure everyone’s voice can be heard.”

The issues

Moving home with a member of the family with additional needs brings added challenges. “Adapting a home, moving healthcare, social care, all have policies or processes to support the mobility of military families. What they don’t have however, is the reality of people, resources, opinions, and availability fixed to the solutions. In our recent move from Wiltshire to Fife in Scotland the legal differences and devolved administration policies also played a huge part in this challenge,” adds Edd.

“As Harry is over 18, and has no mental capacity, deputyship was in place in England for my wife Jo and I to make decisions on his behalf. In Scotland this is not recognised, and guardianship is required, which meant new legal proceedings,” explains Edd. “The assessments were stated as having a threeyear backlog. With a two-year posting and being unable to put any care in place without this, some barriers needed to be challenged.”

On making the move, Edd was frustrated by the way the allocation and adaptation of the quarter was handled and also felt there was a lack of understanding and misinterpretation of policy and processes by the local authorities. “They spent more time telling us not to come, rather than to look at options to support Harry. Now, after six months of being in Fife, health and social care have gone some way to supporting him. This has been a painful and isolating time for the family with Harry’s care being provided primarily by Jo.”

Working together

As the Army Carers Advocate, Edd believes that a team approach is the best way forward to help effect change. He works with AFF, families, the chain of command and other organisations.

He explains: “I can highlight and support initiatives that address perceived barriers and related issues, and help to influence key decision making.

“In my role, I also support the chain of command in navigating policies, and help external agencies understand the realities of service life.”

Edd is keen to hear your feedback and experiences. “To help me help you, I need to understand the scope of the issues you are facing.

“If you identify as an unpaid carer, please complete the short survey. This feedback will help me shape future policy challenges and help invest in the correct support for you.”

Sources of support

Are you a service family member with caring responsibilities? If so, there is support available for those caring for a family member, whether you are their parent, spouse, child or an adult carer for an extended family member.

There are a several carers’ organisations that provide specific support to the armed forces community, whether you are still serving, a family member, a young carer, a veteran or a reservist, here are some examples…

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