A word from…AFF policy & Research Director, Michelle Alston
All army families face challenges when moving – not just with housing, but also finding childcare, the impact on the partner’s job and accessing healthcare. But for those of you moving overseas, there are unique and additional challenges.
Over the last year, our team at AFF has highlighted these challenges to the chain of command at every level; from our regional leads based locally to our overseas manager and specialists working with the army and MOD, as well as our chief executive and I raising these issues with senior chain of command and ministers.
Your evidence matters
To make sure your experiences and views were heard by decision makers, we ran an overseas survey in the autumn. The results showed that you feel that you don’t get realistic and accurate information to make informed decisions. This led to some of you feeling ill-prepared for the realities of your time overseas.
In particular, we heard that you found it difficult to access information on spousal employment, with 85 per cent of those who replied saying they didn’t feel the non-serving partner received the support and advice they needed to make an informed choice about maintaining their careers overseas. This is an issue AFF has been talking to the MOD about over the last year and, whilst we now have some interim guidance, we are continuing to push for answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
You also told us about the financial impact of overseas postings on your family and the difficulties of finding childcare that meets your needs. Plus, we heard about whether you felt supported during COVID-19 and the impact of Brexit.
Despite these challenges, it was great to hear the opportunities and benefits an overseas posting can bring and the majority of you who are currently posted overseas said you would go again.
AFF is sharing this evidence with decision makers and recommending that families are provided with information that is up-to-date, in clear, family-friendly language, giving a realistic view of what army life is really like in specific locations.
We hope this will ensure you have the information you need to prepare for your move and enjoy your overseas posting.
You don’t have to wait until we run a survey to report your issues to us, we are always keen to hear from you as your evidence is key in helping us to make a difference for all army families. Go to aff.org.uk/contact for our contact details.